A series of mild geomagnetic storms could hit the earth on Monday and Tuesday (March 14 and 15), according to US and UK government weather agencies, after a moderate solar flare erupted from the sun’s atmosphere a few days ago
The storms shouldn’t do any damage Earthapart from possibly confusing radio transmissions and affecting the stability of the power grid at high latitudes – however, the Northern lights could be seen at lower latitudes than usual, possibly as far north as New York and Idaho in the US, the US said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
NOAA assigned the incoming storms a G2 category on Monday and a G1 category on Tuesday, based on the agency’s five-point solar storm scale (G5 being the most extreme). According to NOAA, Earth experiences more than 2,000 G1 and G2 category solar storms each decade and is currently in the midst of a mild solar storm band; the latest G2 storm brushed the ground on Sunday (March 13) and passed early in the morning without major problems.
Like all geomagnetic storms, Monday and Tuesday’s predicted events stem from a burst of charged particles exiting the Sun’s outermost atmosphere, or corona. These bursts, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), occur when magnetic field lines in the Sun’s atmosphere tangle and break, ejecting bursts of plasma and magnetic field into space.
These large clumps of particles sail through the Solar System on the Sun’s solar wind, occasionally pulling directly over Earth, compressing our planet’s magnetic shield in the process. This compression triggers the geomagnetic storm.
According to NOAA, the vast majority of storms are mild and only manipulate technology in space or at very high latitudes. But larger CMEs can trigger much more extreme storms – like the infamous Carrington event of 1859, which induced electrical currents so powerful that telegraph equipment burst into flames, according to NASA. Some scientists have warned that another solar storm of this magnitude could throw Earth into a “Internet apocalypse‘ that take nations offline for weeks or months, Live Science previously reported.
Solar storms are also responsible for the aurora. When CMEs impact Earth’s atmosphere, solar plasma ionizes the surrounding area oxygen and nitrogen molecules there and make them glow. Powerful CMEs can push the aurora to much more southerly latitudes than usual; According to NASA, during the Carrington Event, the Northern Lights could be seen in Hawaii.
The Sun has been spewing out CMEs almost every day since mid-January (though not all have crossed their paths with Earth), according to NOAA. This is to be expected as we approach that portion of the Sun’s 11-year activity cycle known as Solar Maximum – the point when solar storms and CMEs are most active. The next solar maximum will be reached around July 2025, during which time solar activity will likely increase.
Originally published on Live Science.
Two geomagnetic storms to hit Earth on March 14 and 15, NOAA warns Source link Two geomagnetic storms to hit Earth on March 14 and 15, NOAA warns