Articles Tagged: space weather

The Sun creates ‘space weather’ that affects us all

It began as an ordinary summer’s evening. But by 8 o’clock on 29 August 1859, the residents of New Orleans knew something was up. The sky was glowing green and sparks were falling like rain. Soon the blaze turned blood-red, illuminating streets, houses, and sombre faces. The light show was visible from Hawaii to London. Some people thought it was a message from God, or an omen of famine, or revolution. The more scientifically-minded guessed it had something to do with the weather. Perhaps it marked the beginning of a cold snap.

What Would Happen if a Massive Solar Storm Hit the Earth?

We all know that major storms can wreak havoc, flooding cities and decimating infrastructure. But there’s an even bigger worry than wind and rain: space weather. If a massive solar storm hit us, our technology would be wiped out. The entire planet could go dark.

Space Weather Creates Electrical ‘Bermuda Triangles’

New research shows that when even a mild shock wave in the solar wind hits the Earth, it can suddenly amp up the equatorial electrojet and create localized magnetic storms – smaller versions of the large geomagnetic storms that have knocked out power grids and charged up and damaged long pipelines under the aurora-lit skies of higher latitudes.

This is still the hardest space weather problem, and it’s a huge threat to our infrastructure

Space weather forecasters have always struggled with predicting the strength of a geomagnetic storm. Why is this the hardest problem? Not only is the source of the eruption 93 million miles away, but geomagnetic storms themselves are one of the most serious threats to our critical Earth infrastructure.

Severe geomagnetic storm – update

As of yesterday, Earth was still within the plasma cloud of the CME from 22 June, which arrived around 13:00 UT (15:00 CEST) on Wednesday. Thus, the Earth is surrounded by a region of high speed solar wind. Because the Interplanetary Magnetic Field (IMF) of the Sun turned southwards during the night of Wednesday/Thursday, the high-speed solar wind triggered a moderate geomagnetic storm that started around 06:00 UT (08:00 CEST) yesterday. This storm continued throughout the day yesterday.

Huge solar storm hits Earth: power grid and GPS could be disrupted, but auroras might be seen

The Earth is being battered by a huge solar storm, which could disrupt the power grid and GPS as well as letting people see beautiful auroras. Solar storms can disrupt communications, navigations systems, the power grid and other systems that rely on radio communications, but there were no reports of damage, according to NOAA space weather physicist Doug Biesecker. It was likely that important systems like the electrical grid saw current fluctuations, but they have been built to be able to handle such disruption.

Spotting a solar storm 24 hours in advance

Large magnetic solar storms could soon be predicted more than 24 hours in advance. The breakthrough modelling technique could help prevent major disruption on Earth, including GPS disturbances and blackouts. Currently, satellites are only able detect the approach of a storm with any certainty when it is nearing Earth, giving scientists just 30 to 60 minutes’ notice.

Partner & Fellow Blogs