Earth is facing the prospect of a moderate-level geomagnetic storm on September 4. But what are these geomagnetic storms? Know all details.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters have warned that a minor G1 class and a moderate G2 class geomagnetic storms are likely to hit Earth on September 4. This will happen when a stream of solar wind is expected to hit Earth’s magnetic field. The gaseous material is flowing from a large hole in the sun’s atmosphere. But what are these geomagnetic storms? Do they have any impact on our Earth? Here is everything that you need to know about Geomagnetic storms and their impact.
What are Geomagnetic Storms
A geomagnetic storm, which is also known as a magnetic storm, is a period of rapid magnetic field variation, which can last from hours to days. These storms have two basic causes. First, when the Sun ejects a strong surge of solar wind called a coronal mass ejection in space after solar storms on the surface of the Sun, this can disturb the outer part of the Earth’s magnetic field. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) mentioned that it undergoes a complex oscillation. “This generates associated electric currents in the near-Earth space environment, which in turn generates additional magnetic field variations — all of which constitute a ‘magnetic storm.’” the report explained.
Solar outbursts shoot coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which are massive solar particles that generate geomagnetic storms on Earth. Sometimes, the Sun directs these CMEs at a time when the magnetic field lines of the Earth and Sun are directly connected. During this phase, we can experience a massive geomagnetic storm.
How Geomagnetic storms can affect Earth
- USGS further explained the hazards of geomagnetic storms which can leave a direct impact on our technology-based infrastructure during geomagnetic storms.
- It can also affect long-range radio communication that relies on sub-ionospheric reflection. As the ionosphere, where Earth’s atmosphere meets space, is heated and distorted during geomagnetic storms, GPS can be degraded.
- Not just these, geomagnetic storms can increase satellite drag, which simply means it will make their orbits difficult to control. Also, satellite electronics can be damaged due to the surge in the discharge of static-electric charges, just like in the case of Elon Musk’s led Starlink satellites that SpaceX had launched. A huge number of them could not reach the desired orbit because of the geomagnetic storm and they fell back and burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere.
- The effect can be seen on Earth’s surface too, as Geomagnetic storms can cause power grid fluctuations, even blackouts.
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