International Standards and Conformity Assessment for all electrical, electronic and related technologies

March 2013


Natural and transient phenomena

IEC International Standards provide protecticve measures

The forces of nature have to be reckoned with at all times. Whether a solar storm, water, dust or a heat wave, they can cause major damage. For centuries, inventors, scientists and engineers have been devising protective and mitigating measures to counter the effects of these natural and transient phenomena.


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.


  • Northern Lights are produced from millions of explosions of magnetic energy
  • Dust storms can cause important damage to installations and equipment
  • Claire Marchand, Managing Editor of e-tech