An Earth-facing component from a current eruption on the Sun's surface brought about a decision from the National Weather Service's Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) to issue a Geomagnetic Storm Watch.
The SPWC forecasts different space weather conditions and occurrences and its impact on planet Earth and human activities. They are currently located in Boulder, Colorado and mainly led the said Geomagnetic Storm Watch.
The Sun's explosion mainly caused by Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) was confirmed to reach an intensity of G2-Moderate. While it does not occur all the time that CME hits earth, it was confirmed that this one has. The Geomagnetic Storm Watch's aim is to monitor the radiation and impact of this significant event to Earth.
What to Know About Coronal Mass Ejections (CME)
Basically, CME is a release or expulsion of plasma accompanied by magnetic field from the solar corona and other forms of solar activity, and containing up to a billion tons of charged particles. CME most often originates from active regions on the Sun's surface, such as groupings of sunspots associated with frequent flares. According to SWPC, the CME to hit Earth is associated with a C3 flare from Region 2816 on the Sun. With the use of specific instruments like coronagraph and forecast models, SPWC was able to observe this occurrence and concluded that the geomagnetic storm reached a potential of G2-Moderate storm level. With the continuing efforts of SWPC and space weather experts, it was confirmed that while the component to hit Earth is fair, the intensity is expected to be low.
Also read: Solar Storms: Are They Dangerous?
The Geomagnetic Storm Effect: Worst Case Scenario
As frightening as it might sound, generally, geomagnetic storms are not harmful to human beings. The Earth's surface is covered with a blanket of atmosphere and magnetosphere which protects our human bodies from solar flares and these kinds of natural events. Over the past years, the sun's occurrences have influenced the evolving life on Earth. This should not cause human panic at all. In a matter of fact, this sun's activity which causes geomagnetic storm is also responsible for the wonderful aurorae and Northern lights, which sparks excitement to most people. In this current's watch, the aurorae could show as low as New York and Idaho.
On the other hand, this storm does cause dangerous effects to our technologies, as it basically creates a temporary disturbance in the Earth's magnetic field. According to SWPC's findings, the power systems, spacecraft operations and others systems were affected moderately. Voltage alarms and transformer damages may occur causing electricity and power outages. For spacecraft operations, corrective actions should be taken by ground control as possible changes can affect orbit predictions that can cause disruption in satellites or spacecrafts. Lastly, findings show that radio communications are also affected which may disrupt telecommunication and navigation systems.
According to experts, we are currently entering an active solar cycle which urges forecasters at SPWC to closely monitor the situation, especially its frequency and impact.
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