Archive for the ‘Geomagnetism’ Category

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The next year or two may give us a better idea of how solar cycle 25 is going to turn out, compared to other cycles.

Spaceweather.com

Oct. 21, 2021: Paolo Bardelli will never forget Oct. 21, 2001. “The sky over my hometown in Italy suddenly filled with intense red auroras,” he recalls. “This happened exactly 20 years ago today.”

Above: Red auroras over Tradate, Italy (latitude +45N), on Oct. 21, 2001. Photo credit: Cesare Guaita

A trip down memory lane: In 2001, Solar Cycle 23 was peaking and solar activity was very high. Strong flares were a daily occurance. On Oct. 19th, giant sunspot AR9661 erupted twice in quick succession, producing almost identical X1.6-class solar flares. The double blast hurled two bright CMEs toward Earth: CME #1, CME #2.

This is what the sun looked like that day:

The first CME took only two days to reach Earth. It was fast and potent. The storm cloud’s arrival on Oct. 21, 2001, ignited a severe geomagnetic storm (Kp=8). Solar wind speeds in the CME’s wake…

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Professor says it’s “a giant feedback loop in space.”

Spaceweather.com

Sept. 20, 2021: No solar storms? No problem. Earth has learned to make its own auroras. New results from NASA’s THEMIS-ARTEMIS spacecraft show that a type of Northern Lights called “diffuse auroras” comes from our own planet–no solar storms required.

Diffuse auroras look a bit like pea soup. They spread across the sky in a dim green haze, sometimes rippling as if stirred by a spoon. They’re not as flamboyant as auroras caused by solar storms. Nevertheless, they are important because they represent a whopping 75% of the energy input into Earth’s upper atmosphere at night. Researchers have been struggling to understand them for decades.

Above: Diffuse auroras and the Big Dipper, photographed by Emmanuel V. Masongsong in Fairbanks, AK

“We believe we have found the energy source for these auroras,” says UCLA space physicist Xu Zhang, lead author of papers reporting the results in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space…

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solarflare

Solar flare erupting from a sunspot [image credit: space.com]

Using trees as solar cycle and cosmic ray detectors here. The researchers say: ‘Notably, other evidence suggests that the sun was also undergoing a decades-long period of increasing activity.’ We may ask, with a view to the current era: how often does that happen, and why?
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The sun constantly emits a stream of energetic particles, some of which reach Earth, says Phys.org.

The density and energy of this stream form the basis of space weather, which can interfere with the operation of satellites and other spacecraft.

A key unresolved question in the field is the frequency with which the sun emits bursts of energetic particles strong enough to disable or destroy space-based electronics.

One promising avenue for determining the rate of such events is the dendrochronological record. This approach relies on the process by which a solar energetic particle (SEP) strikes the atmosphere, causing a chain reaction that results in the production of an atom of carbon-14.

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First X-flare of Solar Cycle 25

Posted: July 5, 2021 by oldbrew in Cycles, Geomagnetism, News
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Is this solar cycle finally lifting off?

Spaceweather.com

July 3, 2021: Now, Solar Cycle 25 has really begun. On July 3rd, new sunspot AR2838 produced the first X-class solar flare since Sept. 2017. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash:

The July 3rd explosion registered X1.5 on the Richter Scale of Solar Flares

A pulse of X-rays ionized the top of Earth’s atmosphere, causing a shortwave radio blackout over the Atlantic Ocean: blackout map. Mariners, aviators, and amateur radio operators may have noticed unusual propagation effects below 30 MHz just after 1429 UT.

X-flares are the strongest kind of solar flare. They are typically responsible for the deepest radio blackouts and the most intense geomagnetic storms. This is the first X-flare of young Solar Cycle 25. More are in the offing. During the previous solar cycle (Solar Cycle 24) the sun produced 49 of them. Forecasters believe that Solar Cycle 25 should be at least…

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Extreme geomagnetic storms are now thought to occur about once every 45 years, or every four solar cycles, on average.

Spaceweather.com

April 30, 2021: Imagine living in Florida. You’ll never see the Northern Lights … right? Actually, the odds may be better than you think. A new historical study just published in the Journal of Space Climate and Space Weather shows that great aurora storms occur every 40 to 60 years.

“They’re happening more often than we thought,” says Delores Knipp of the University of Colorado, the paper’s lead author. “Surveying the past 500 years, we found many extreme storms producing auroras in places like Florida, Cuba and Samoa.”

This kind of historical research is not easy. Hundreds of years ago, most people had never even heard of the aurora borealis. When the lights appeared, they were described as “fog,” “vapors”, “spirits”–almost anything other than “auroras.” Making a timeline 500 years long requires digging through unconventional records such as personal diaries, ship’s logs, local weather reports–often in languages that are foreign to…

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A prediction for the Talkshop to mull over.

Spaceweather.com

April 8, 2021: If you think you are safe from geomagnetic storms, think again. A new study just published in the journal Space Weather finds that powerful storms may be twice as likely as previously thought.

Jeffrey Love of the USGS, who authored the study, analyzed Earth’s strongest geomagnetic storms since the early 1900s. Previous studies looked back only to the 1950s. The extra data led to a surprise:

“A storm as intense as, say, the Québec Blackout of 1989 is predicted to occur, on average, about every four solar cycles. This is twice as often as estimated using only the traditional shorter dataset,” says Love.

Above: The data Love used in his extreme value analysis. Red and blue circles denote the two strongest storms in each solar cycle.

A study like this is part physics, part math, and part detective work.

Love has spent recent years digging deeply into…

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A Surprise Visit from STEVE

Posted: July 18, 2020 by oldbrew in Geomagnetism, solar system dynamics

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Nature’s purple haze.

Spaceweather.com

July 16, 2020: Even STEVE wants to see Comet NEOWISE. On July 14th, the geomagnetic phenomenon appeared over Canada, streaking the sky with mauve ribbons of light. Harlan Thomas of Calgary, Alberta, reports: “I was out shooting the comet when I noticed a mauve-looking cloud. Wow!” I thought. “STEVE has come to visit NEOWISE. How cool is that?”

steve

STEVE is a recent discovery. It looks like an aurora, but it is not. The purple glow is caused by hot (3000°C) ribbons of gas flowing through Earth’s magnetosphere at speeds exceeding 6 km/s (13,000 mph). It appears during some geomagnetic storms, often alongside a type of green aurora known as the “picket fence,” also shown in Thomas’s photo.

Statistics suggest that STEVE appears most often in spring and fall. What summoned STEVE in mid-summer? It may have been a CME that grazed Earth’s magnetic field on July…

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This twitter video caught my eye last night, it was taken near Miami a few nights ago. It shows mysterious lights, confirmed from many sources and featured on national US TV channels where it’s reported answers are being demanded from the Pentagon.

Then today my physicist friend Mike McCulloch posted a tweet about some similar phenomena which have been observed for many years in Norway.

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Credit: NASA


This BBC link includes a video which shows the weakening of the magnetic field over the last 400 years (under ‘Magnetic flip’ sub-heading).
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In an area stretching from Africa to South America, Earth’s magnetic field is gradually weakening, says Phys.org.

This strange behaviour has geophysicists puzzled and is causing technical disturbances in satellites orbiting Earth.

Scientists are using data from ESA’s Swarm constellation to improve our understanding of this area known as the ‘South Atlantic Anomaly.’

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Now believed to be of similar intensity to the more famous Carrington event of 1859.

Spaceweather.com

May 12, 2020: 99 years ago this week, people around the world woke up to some unusual headlines.

“Telegraph Service Prostrated, Comet Not to Blame” — declared the Los Angeles Times on May 15, 1921. “Electrical Disturbance is ‘Worst Ever Known'” — reported the Chicago Daily Tribune. “Sunspot credited with Rail Tie-up” — deadpanned the New York Times.

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They didn’t know it at the time, but those newspapers were covering the biggest solar storm of the 20th Century. Nothing quite like it has happened since.

It began on May 12, 1921 when giant sunspot AR1842, crossing the sun during the declining phase of Solar Cycle 15, began to flare. One explosion after another hurled coronal mass ejections (CMEs) directly toward Earth. For the next 3 days, CMEs rocked Earth’s magnetic field. Scientists around the world were surprised when their magnetometers suddenly went offscale, pens in strip chart recorders pegged uselessly…

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Magnetic North on the move [credit: ESA]


It’s down to a process known as ‘flux lobe elongation’, according to researchers. They foresee the magnetic north pole travelling a further 390–660 km towards Siberia.
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European scientists think they can now describe with confidence what’s driving the drift of the North Magnetic Pole, says BBC News.

It’s shifted in recent years away from Canada towards Siberia.

And this rapid movement has required more frequent updates to navigation systems, including those that operate the mapping functions in smartphones.

A team, led from Leeds University, says the behaviour is explained by the competition of two magnetic “blobs” on the edge of the Earth’s outer core.

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Magnetic North on the move [credit: ESA]


They have a go at doing so, anyway. To make it more complicated, the South Magnetic Pole is also moving, but at a much lesser rate.

European scientists think they can now describe with confidence what’s driving the drift of the North Magnetic Pole, says BBC News.

It’s shifted in recent years away from Canada towards Siberia.

And this rapid movement has required more frequent updates to navigation systems, including those that operate the mapping functions in smartphones.

A team, led from Leeds University, says the behaviour is explained by the competition of two magnetic “blobs” on the edge of the Earth’s outer core.

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Magnetic North on the move [credit: ESA]


Few will notice anything, but some airport runways will have to change their markings.

The team of researchers that maintain the World Magnetic Model (WMM) has updated it and released it a year ahead of schedule due to the speed with which the pole is moving, reports Phys.org.

The newly updated model shows the magnetic north pole moving away from Canada and toward Siberia.

The magnetic north pole is the point on the Earth that compasses designate as true north. It is the result of geological processes deep within the planet—molten iron flow creates a magnetic field with poles near the geographic North and South Poles.

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Credit: JS Pailly


What a time to be alive says ScienceAlert.
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For the first time in centuries, compasses in Greenwich are about to point directly at true north: an epic coincidence of time and magnetism that hasn’t taken place for some 360 years.

This serendipitous occurrence – which is set to occur within the next fortnight – serves as a startling reminder of how Earth’s magnetic north pole is constantly wandering, unlike the fixed ‘true north’ of Earth’s geographic north pole.

The angular difference between those two different points is called magnetic declination, and while the gap might not be something ordinary people spend a great deal of time thinking about, it’s a disparity that can last for centuries at a time.

For hundreds of years now in the UK, due to Earth’s shifting magnetic north pole, declination has been negative, meaning compass needles have been pointing west of true north.

But nothing lasts forever.

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Still plenty of work for scientists to do to gain a better understanding of our rotating Earth’s electromagnetic processes.

Scientists assumed Earth’s mantle, the layer stretching from the crust to a depth of 255 miles, was magnetically dead. New research suggests they were mistaken, reports Phys.org.

Most scientists thought Earth’s magnetism was powered by materials in the crust and core, but according to a new study published this week in the journal Nature, hematite, a common iron oxide, retains its magnetic qualities at high temperatures.

“This new knowledge about the Earth’s mantle and the strongly magnetic region in the western Pacific could throw new light on any observations of the Earth’s magnetic field,” Ilya Kupenko, mineral physicist and researcher from the University of Munster in Germany, said in a news release.

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Arctic region


At last – something that can’t be blamed on Brexit! Just joking of course, and wandering poles can be a serious matter for navigators.

Erratic motion of north magnetic pole forces experts to update model that aids global navigation.
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Something strange is going on at the top of the world, a Nature article says.

Earth’s north magnetic pole has been skittering away from Canada and towards Siberia, driven by liquid iron sloshing within the planet’s core.

The magnetic pole is moving so quickly that it has forced the world’s geomagnetism experts into a rare move.

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Credit: solen.info


The storm was so strong that the change in magnetic direction could be easily measured on a compass, as this 2013 article explains.

Ghosts and goblins, candle-lit jack o’lanterns and dark haunted houses, ominous screeching and maniacal laughter – these are some of the frightening fantasies we associate with Halloween.

But ten years ago during the Halloween of 2003, while children in costumes paraded door-to-door for treats, the Sun was playing its own tricks with planet Earth, says Directions Magazine.

The consequence: a solar-terrestrial nightmare became a scary reality.

The Halloween Storm

In mid-October 2003, a bundle of concentrated magnetic energy emerged from the Sun’s interior, forming a large sunspot, a site of seething activity. Enormous solar flares soon followed. Then, on October 28, the sunspot abruptly ejected a concentrated mass of electrically conducting solar wind, flinging it out into interplanetary space toward the Earth. Less than a day later, on October 29, a geomagnetic storm was initiated as the solar wind disrupted the Earth’s protective magnetosphere.

Over the next three days, the “Halloween magnetic storm” would evolve and grow to become one of the largest such storms in half a century.

Magnetic storms are global phenomena, and their effects can be easily seen around the world. During the Halloween storm, for example, magnetic direction in Alaska quickly changed by more than 20 degrees. In other words, the storm was so large that it could be measured with a simple compass.

The Halloween magnetic storm also produced spectacular aurora, with green phantom “northern lights” seen as far south as Texas and Florida.

The Impacts of this Storm

The USGS network of magnetic observatories monitored activity from the Halloween storm in collaboration with international partners. The storm played tricks on technological systems around the world, which scientists continue to analyze even today.

Continued here.

See also: The Halloween Storms: When Solar Events Spooked the Skies | GPS World

I was at the Dodger game Saturday when the power went out….completely.  It was the 12th inning, with the score tied at 4-4 (Dodger Vs Padres).  This was a serious matter!

I thought I was joking when I told my friends “It’s probably caused by massive ground currents from a CME (coronal mass ejection)”.  Lo and behold, when I woke up Sunday morning, I discovered that a surprisingly significant stream of energy from an earthbound solar filament hit the ionosphere at the same time as the outage.

The following chart shows measurements of the Earth’s geomagnetic field in the time period when the power outage occurred:

glenn1

UTC is 7 hours ahead of PST, so the power outage at Dodger Stadium, which occurred in Los Angeles at 9:44 p.m., shows up on the chart on August 26th at 04:44 a.m.  That appears to be exactly when the KP Index from NOAA hit Kp = 7.0, categorized as a “Severe Storm”.

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Pipeline corrosion


The technical term for the alleged problem seems to be
stray current corrosion. However in the reported incident the pipeline itself may or may not have been partly to blame, as it was ‘finally damaged by a digger’
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Scientists say the sun may be corroding New Zealand’s pipelines, and might have played a role in Auckland’s recent fuel crisis – but not in the way we might think,
says the NZ Herald.

Geomagnetic storms are a temporary disturbance of the magnetosphere, which surrounds our planet and is formed by the interaction of the solar wind and Earth’s magnetic field.

When giant explosions on the sun – or solar flares – send energy, light and high-speed particles into space, the solar wind shock waves typically strike Earth’s magnetic field 24 to 36 hours later.

Coronal mass ejections – eruptions of gas and magnetised material from the sun – similarly have the potential to wreak havoc on satellites and Earth-bound technologies, disrupting radio transmissions and causing transformer blowouts and blackouts.

“We’re vulnerable to these as we’ve become more and more technologically dependent,” said Otago University’s Professor Craig Rodger.

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Northern Lights illuminate sky over UK [image credit: BBC]

Northern Lights illuminate sky over UK [image credit: BBC]


‘We could see these changes occurring as early as the next few decades’, say the researchers.

Britain may lose the magic of the Northern Lights by the middle of the century due to major shifts in solar activity, scientists have discovered.

Space scientists at the University of Reading conclude that plummeting solar activity will shrink the overall size of the sun’s ‘atmosphere’ by a third and weaken its protective influence on the Earth, reports Phys.org.

This could make the Earth more vulnerable to technology-destroying solar blasts and cancer-causing cosmic radiation, as well as making the aurora less common away from the north and south polar regions for 50 years or more.
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