Monday, May 27

Severe (G4) Geomagnetic Storm Hits Earth: What Does It Mean

Edited by Shibu NK

United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released a statement saying ta severe (G4) geomagnetic storming has been observed and is expected to continue through the remainder of the 24 March-UTC day and into the first half of 25 March.

According to NOAA, a severe geomagnetic storm is a major disturbance in Earth‘s magnetic field; often varying intensity between lower levels and severe storm conditions over the course of the event.

What you should do?

The Public should not anticipate adverse impacts and no action is necessary, but they should stay properly informed of storm progression by visiting official websites of organisations engaged in oceanic and atmospheric studies.

Possible technology effects

Infrastructure operators have been notified to take action to mitigate any possible impacts, NOAA said. The NOAA has also added that possible increased and more frequent voltage control problems will be there which are normally mitigable. There is also an increased possibility of anomalies or effects to satellite operations, and more frequent and longer periods of GPS degradation is also possible.

What is a geomagnetic storm?

Our planet Earth is protected by an invisible shield called the magnetosphere, which shields us from most of the outbursts from the sun. But sometimes, the sun throws a giant surge of charged particles called a coronal mass ejection (CME) in our direction. When this CME hits Earth’s magnetosphere, it creates a disturbance like a powerful shove.

This shove can cause a few interesting things to happen. First, the charged particles get pulled towards Earth’s poles, creating the dazzling auroras – the colorful northern lights (aurora borealis) and southern lights (aurora australis). Second, the storm can disrupt electrical currents in the atmosphere and on Earth’s surface, leading to power outages, especially in areas closer to the poles. Finally, strong geomagnetic storms can also interfere with radio signals and GPS navigation.

So, in simpler terms, a geomagnetic storm is a big space weather event that can cause beautiful auroras, but also some potential tech issues like power outages and communication disruptions.

What is a G4 geometric storm?

A G4 geomagnetic storm is a severe event on a scale of G1 to G5, with G5 being the most extreme. During a G4 storm, auroras like the northern lights become spectacular, visible even at lower latitudes. However, the beauty comes with a price. G4 storms can overload electrical grids, causing widespread power outages, particularly in areas closer to the poles. Satellites orbiting Earth can also be damaged or malfunction due to the intense charged particles. Radio signals and GPS navigation experience disruptions, making communication a challenge.

While these powerful G4 storms are luckily uncommon, one before this happened in April 2023, highlighting the importance of preparedness for such space weather events.