Mapping a Magnetic Superstorm

Posted: June 13, 2022 by oldbrew in Geomagnetism, solar system dynamics

Beware ‘unusual frequencies (harmonics)’.

June 13, 2022: Researchers have mapped the best and worst places to be in the USA during a severe geomagnetic storm. For residents of some big cities, the news is not good.

“Resistive structures in the crust and mantle of the Earth make cities along the east coast of the USA especially vulnerable to geomagnetic storms,” says Jeffrey Love of the US Geological Survey (USGS), who led the study. “The hazards are greatest for power systems serving Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, DC, – a megalopolis of over 50 million people.”

Above: If you live near an orange dot you might be in trouble. Peak geoelectric field amplitudes during the March 13, 1989, geomagnetic storm, from Love et al (2022).

These conclusions are based on a new study of the biggest geomagnetic storm of the Space Age–the Great Québec Blackout. On March 13, 1989, two major CMEs hammered…

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  1. JB says:

    There are a number of questions that arise reviewing the original article.
    How do they come up with “unusual frequencies” when the storm induction period is measured in minutes/hours while the power transmission rate is 60Hz? What “harmonics”?

    The original paper is 37 pages, while 15 are references. Nearly a third the way through no mention of ground electrode impedance is mentioned. All the discussion is centered on the earth’s conductivity. Yet ground electrode coupling, especially in rock seems to me to be the dominant resistive element. The cited 70km spacing between substations according to their data would yield a 1400V storm surge, which induced upon a 100KV transmission line ground wire is negligible. Except for rock terrain, the efficacy of electrode coupling at station cites, and towers is the controlling factor here.

    How do they arrive at a half cycle surge saturating substation transformers when the storm induction period is at least 2 orders of magnitude longer than the operating frequency of transformer iron?

    Some mention is given to the storm wavefront, but no details about the periodicity of a given geomagnetic storm. Mention of transformer burnout was made, but no discussion of the type of failure analysis of such is discussed.

    Where such long distances are involved with solar magnetic storms are involved, generally the induced current in the area involved rises to the same potential, being a local offset to the power grid. To saturate and overheat a transformer requires a difference in potential over the loop circuit created by the storm.

    About all I get out of this paper so far is they convolved several datasets to sift out a pattern, but no treatment of the actual mechanism utilizing the specific circuit elements is mentioned, except perhaps by cited papers. It basically indicate power utilities in the north central-east have a problem. Their response is “Yes, we know. What’s new?”

  2. dscott8186 says:

    What I want to know is there a way to produce useful electricity from this effect and maybe storing it in a capacitor bank? Instead of complaining about it, let’s turn this to our advantage.

  3. oldbrew says:

    Mapping a Magnetic Superstorm: March 1989 Geoelectric Hazards and Impacts on United States Power Systems
    12 May 2022

    During the storm, electric-power system interference was concentrated where the lithosphere is relatively electrically resistive, and when and where the geoelectric field was of high amplitude.
    . . .
    Measured in a variety of ways, the peak amplitude of 1-min geomagnetic field variation, for a given magnetic storm, is a factor of about 10 greater at auroral-zone latitudes than at low latitudes

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