Sunday, December 3, 2017

Moderately Strong Geomagnetic Storm May Hit Earth

Credit: NOAA

A G2-class (moderately strong) geomagnetic storm may hit Earth on Monday or Tuesday, according to an alert issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Such storm could have noticeable impact on power systems, satellites, and could trigger auroras seen as low as New York and Idaho.

“G2 (moderate) geomagnetic storm conditions are likely on 04-05 Dec 2017 due to the anticipated influence of a recurrent, positive polarity CH HSS,” NOAA informed.

NOAA underlines that geomagnetic storms are due to the anticipated arrival of a recurrent, positive polarity coronal hole high speed streams (CH HSSs). Fast CH HSSs can impact Earth’s magnetosphere enough to cause periods of geomagnetic storming to the G1-G2 levels; although rarer cases of stronger storming may also occur. The larger and more expansive coronal holes can often be a source for high solar wind speeds that buffet Earth for many days.

Geomagnetic storms can increase the density and distribution of density in the upper atmosphere, causing extra drag on satellites in low-earth orbit. The local heating also creates strong horizontal variations in the in the ionospheric density that can modify the path of radio signals and create errors in the positioning information provided by GPS. While the storms create beautiful aurora, they also can disrupt navigation systems such as the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and create harmful geomagnetic induced currents (GICs) in the power grid and pipelines.

G2-class storm can cause voltage alarms and transformer damage in high-latitude power systems. When it comes to possible impact on spacecraft operations, in result of such storm, corrective actions to orientation may be required by ground control. Moderately strong geomagnetic storm can also spark auroras and cause fading of HF radio propagation at higher latitudes.

NOAA also added that solar activity is expected to be generally at very low levels till December 23. However, one G1-class (minor) geomagnetic storm is expected around December 18.

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