Solar storms may provoke stunning sights when they hit the earth expanding the reach of Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, and making them visible in more places around the globe. However, beyond this spectacular display the amount of geomagnetic activity created by these so-called transient phenomena may cause grid failures and widespread power outages. They can also disrupt many other services relying on electronic systems and components, such as satellite communications or air transport.
The IEC works with other organizations on projects aimed at dealing with the vulnerability of power networks to these phenomena.
Other natural factors, such as cold and heat, lightning, dust – where the IEC has a universally recognized rating system – or humidity and water, can have an adverse impact on the operation of many electrical components and systems.
Many IEC TCs (Technical Committees) have to take these into account in the preparation of their standards.