Sunday, January 14, 2018

Minor Geomagnetic Storm Impacts Earth

Credit: NOAA

A G1-class (minor) geomagnetic storm hit the Earth on Sunday, January 14, as our planet entered a fast-moving stream of solar wind. In result of the ongoing storming, visible auroras are concentrated around Earth's poles and weak power grid fluctuations could occur. The current storm could also have minor impact on satellite operations.

“A G1 (minor) geomagnetic storm alert was issued at 14/0259 UTC due to the onset of effects from an isolated, positive polarity coronal hole high-speed stream,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration informs on its website.

Fast coronal hole high-speed streams (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 in the power grid and pipelines.

NOAA also reveals that solar activity is expected to be generally at very low levels until February 3. However, geomagnetic field activity could reach active levels on January 15 and 20 due to the anticipated effects of recurrent CH HSSs.


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