Friday, May 4, 2018

Minor Geomagnetic Storm May Hit Earth on Sunday

A G1-class (minor) geomagnetic storm may hit the Earth on Sunday, May 6, when a stream of solar wind originating from a hole in the Sun’s atmosphere is expected to arrive at our planet.

In result of the minor geomagnetic storm, visible auroras may be concentrated around Earth's poles and weak power grid fluctuations could occur. Such storm could also have minor impact on satellite operations. 

In general, 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. 

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts one more geomagnetic storm this month classified as G2 (moderate) – likely on May 17. This is connected with the formation of a co-rotating interaction region (CIR) on the Sun ahead of the coronal hole high speed stream (CH HSS). 

NOAA added that after the possible G2 storm on May 17, the remainder of the month is expected to be mostly quiet when it comes to solar activity as a nominal solar wind environment is predicted. 

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.

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