Friday, November 9, 2018

Minor Geomagnetic Storm May Hit Earth This Weekend

Credit: NOAA

A G1-class (minor) geomagnetic storm may hit our planet in the coming hours when a high-speed stream of solar wind is expected to strike Earth's magnetic field, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NOAA estimates that there is a 60 percent chance that the gaseous material flowing from the sun will trigger minor storming on Earth. There are also some uncertainties regarding the exact the date of the possible G1-class storming. 

“Uncertainties with the arrival time of the co-rotating interaction region (CIR) ahead of the negative polarity coronal hole high speed stream (CH HSS), have led SWPC [Space Weather Prediction Center] forecasters to extend the likelihood of G1 storm levels into November 10,” NOAA informs. 

NOAA adds that the solar wind speed is expected to increase to 550 km/s or higher upon connection with the CH HSS, what could cause geomagnetic responses at unsettled to active levels. 

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. 

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

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.

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