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Geomagnetic storm:

GS Paper 1:

Topics Covered: Important Geophysical phenomenon.

 

Context:

The earth is likely to hit by a geomagnetic storm on 7th April, according to the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

 

Current Affairs

 

What are Geomagnetic Storms?

Geomagnetic storms are caused when events such as solar flares can send higher than normal levels of radiation towards Earth. This radiation interacts with the Earth’s magnetic field causing a geomagnetic storm.

Causes:

The disturbance that drives the magnetic storm may be a solar coronal mass ejection (CME) or (much less severely) a co-rotating interaction region (CIR), a high-speed stream of solar wind originating from a coronal hole.

 

Effects of Geomagnetic storms:

  • Effects from the geomagnetic storm can range from the appearance of auroras or the northern and southern lights to disruptions in communications systems due to high radiation. This would make it difficult to communicate with others on Earth.

Classification of Geomagnetic storms:

Geomagnetic storms are classified according to a scale that measures the effect that storms will have.

  • At its safest level, a G1 storm affects power grids by causing weak fluctuations, minor impacts on satellite operations, and causes the northern and southern lights to occur.
  • At its most extreme, G5, there would be voltage control problems with some grid system collapses or blackouts, radio waves wouldn’t be able to travel for one to two days, low-frequency radio would be out for hours, and the auroras would be able to be seen at lower latitudes than usual.

 

Insta Curious:

In February this year, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s Starlink project was hit hard when a geomagnetic storm damaged 40 of its satellites. What happened then? Reference: read this.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are solar flares?
  2. What are sunspots?
  3. How solar flares affect earth’s magnetic field?
  4. What is sun’s 11 year cycle?

Mains Link:

What are geomagnetic storms? Discuss the concerns associated.

Sources: the Hindu.