Sunday, February 11, 2018

Minor Geomagnetic Storm May Hit Earth Next Week

A G1-class (minor) geomagnetic storm may hit the Earth next week when a high-speed solar wind will reach our planet on February 15 or 16. The solar wind is escaping from a hole in the Sun's atmosphere towards the Earth.

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.

A 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.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) informs that solar activity is expected to be at mostly very low levels till the end of the month. However, this activity could increase on March 1 due to the return of the active region (AR) 2699 on the Sun.

ARs are areas of intense and complex magnetic activity that can sometimes give rise to solar eruptions such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs). NOAA added that there exists a slight chance for R1-R2 (minor-moderate) radio blackouts on February 11-13 due to the flare potential from AR 2699.

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