A geomagnetic storm warning has been issued, with an expert saying that at least two “big- flare players” could be released from the Sun soon. Space weather physicist Dr Tamitha Skov said that many sunspot clusters could be seen from Earth. She added that though there were “no large Earth-directed storms yet” they were on ‘high alert’. Solar flares, coral mass ejections, high-speed solar wind and solar energetic particles are the four main components of solar activities. With this, a question arises what is a geomagnetic storm and how is it caused? Which we will be discussing in the following sections.
WHAT IS A GEOMAGNETIC STORM?
The geomagnetic storm also known as a magnetic storm or solar storm is a disturbance of Earth’s upper atmosphere brought on by coral mass ejection – i.e large eruption from the Sun’s outer atmosphere which is known as the corona.
These storms often occur when a CME which means Coronal Mass Ejection or ao persistent high- speed solar wind brushes over Earth, resulting in the magnetic field becoming unsettled. If the unsettled state continues long enough, a geometric storm is possible. But scientists have failed to find out when the storm will occur.
LEVELS OF GEOMAGNETIC STORM
eGeomagnetic storms can cause effects on different levels which are discussed in this section.
|SCALE||DESCRIPTION||EFFECTS||PHYSICAL MEASURES||AVERAGE FREQUENCYI CYCLE=11 YEARS|
|R5||EXTREME||HF RADIO:Complete HF[ High Frequency]Radio blackouts on the entire sunlit side of the earth lasted for several hours. This results in no HF radio contact with mariners and en route aviators in these sectors. Navigation: low-frequency navigation signals used by maritime and general aviation systems experience outages on the sunlit side of the Earth for many hours causing a loss in positioning and increased satellite navigation errors in positioning for several hours on the sunlit side of the earth, which may spread into the night side.||X20 [2×10 ³]||Less than 1 per cycle|
|R4||SEVERE||HF RADIO: HF radio communication blackout on most of the sunlit side of the Earth for one side for 2 hours. HF radio contact was lost during this time.NAVIGATION: Outages of low-frequency navigation signals caused an increase error in positioning for 1-2 hours. Minor disruptions of satellite navigation position to the sunlit side of Earth.||X10 [10-³]||8 per cycles[ 8 days per cycle]|
|R3||STRONG||HF RADIO: Wide area blackout of HF radio communication, loss of radio contact for about an hour on the sunlit side of the EarthNAVIGATION: Low-frequency navigation signals degraded for about an hour.||X1 (10‐⁴)||175 per cycle [ 140 days per cycle]|
|R2||MODERATE||HF RADIO: Limited blackout of HF radio communication on the sunlit side, loss of radio contact for tens of minutes.NAVIGATION: Degradation of low-frequency navigation signals for tens of minutes.||M5[5×10‐⁵]||350 per cycle [300 days per cycle]|
|R1||MINOR||HF RADIO: Weak or minor degradation of HF radio communication on the sunlit side, occasional loss of radio contact.NAVIGATION: Low-frequency navigation signals degraded for brief intervals.||M1[10‐⁵]||2000 per cycle [ 950 days per cycle]|
HAZARDOUS EFFECTS OF GEOMAGNETIC STORMS
- The ionosphere during storms, long-
range radio communication that relies on sub- ionosphere reflection can be difficult or impossible and the global positioning system [GPS] can be degraded.
- Ionospheric expansion can increase satellite drag and make their orbits difficult to control.
- During geomagnetic storms, satellite electronics can be damaged through the build-up and discharge of static electric charges. Astronauts and high altitude pilots can be subjected to increased levels of radiation.
- Even though rapid magnetic variations are generated by currents in space, very real effects can result down here on the Earth’s surface. That includes voltage surges in power grids that cause blackouts.
IN THE END…
A geomagnetic storm which is also known as a magnetic and solar storm is a temporary disturbance of Earth’s upper atmosphere brought by a solar wind shock wave or cloud of the magnetic field that interacts with the Earth’s magnetic field.
This year a warning has been issued with an expert saying at least two geomagnetic storms could be released from the sun soon.
-by AAYUSHI DHASMANA (Content writer Intern)