Thursday, July 19, 2018

Minor Geomagnetic Storm May Hit Earth This Weekend

A G1-class (minor) geomagnetic storm may hit the Earth on between July 20 and 23, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The storming is expected when a stream of solar wind, flowing from a hole in the Sun’s atmosphere, will reach our planet.

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 in the power grid and pipelines. 

Minor geomagnetic storm can trigger auroras visible around Earth's poles and weak power grid fluctuations. Such storm could also have minor impact on satellite operations. 

NOAA informs that besides July 20-23 solar activity is expected to remain very low until August 11. 

The agency added that solar activity was also very low recently under a spotless solar disk. No Earth-directed coronal mass ejections (CMEs) were observed in available satellite imagery. 

What is noteworthy is that no sunspots have been observed on the Sun during the last 22 days. This is the longest interval of spotlessness since July-August 2009 when the Sun was blank for 52 days.

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