Published: Wed, March 14, 2018
Culture | By Stewart Greene

NOAA explains why geomagnetic storm won't hit Earth on March 18

NOAA explains why geomagnetic storm won't hit Earth on March 18

NOAA says the incoming solar storm is expected to be a G-1 "minor" storm.

But that's not the full story.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) rated the geomagnetic storm as "minor".

Stargazers do not need telescopes to see the Aurora Borealis with the incredible colours visible to the naked eye.

A geomagnetic solar storm is expected to hit Earth in the next couple of days, allowing the auroras to be seen from Australia. When compared to 1859, yet another similarly intense storm was seen in 2012 which disrupted power grids, however, it was not too unsafe since it flyby near Earth with a margin of nine days.

The sun is actually pretty quiet at the moment.

The strongest flares though can have an impact across the whole planet, triggering widespread radio blackouts and long-lasting storms - affecting Global Positioning System signals, radio communications and power grids.

That's a far cry from the serious power outages touted by some.

The scientists created this scale based in part on an index generated from the amount of magnetic deviation which is produced through a storm in combination with measurements of different currents including "auroral electrojets" and the "field-aligned current".

Also known as a geomagnetic storm, it is a temporary disturbance of the Earth's magnetic field, caused by radiation and streams of charged particles from the sun. Moderate storms, known as G2 storms, are somewhat more intense than G1 events, though still not a huge cause for concern. "Transformers may experience damage". However, they are also well-equipped to predict space weather and events such as geomagnetic storms.

Those particles can be dragged down into Earth's upper atmosphere, where they interact with neutral particles, making them glow and look like dancing ribbons of light in the sky.

A solar flare on January 20, 2005, released the highest concentration of protons ever directly measured and took just 15 minutes to reach Earth, indicating a velocity of approximately one-third light speed.

This 'solar storm' is set to hit our planet on March 14, which is Wednesday this week.

A truly massive solar storm, which would likely be caused by charged particles from a solar eruption sent out toward Earth, could, in fact, knock out parts of the electrical grid for months at a time.

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