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L

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RE: Geomagnetic storms
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An early warning system to detect destructive solar activity behind the Northern Lights that can cause massive power blackouts has been developed to protect Scottish consumers.

Scottish Power has teamed up with the British Geological Survey and the European Space Agency to develop a forecast system to predict when and where storms of solar particles will batter the planet.
While the particles can create the colourful Aurora Borealis phenomenon, they can also cause dramatic shifts in magnetic currents flowing beneath the Earth's crust and increase currents flowing in electricity grids.
Scottish Power fears these fluctuations in their circuits can damage essential equipment such as transformers, resulting in widespread power cuts. And they have now asked experts at the British Geological Survey to monitor solar activity to provide an early warning of oncoming solar winds.
Using data from a Nasa spacecraft orbiting the Sun, they are able to give engineers up to 60 minutes' early warning of potentially destructive storms.

"It is still very much a science in its infancy - perhaps even 100 years behind modern weather forecasting. Geomagnetic storms are linked to the magnetic activity on the sun. They can take two to three days to reach the Earth, so we can look for potential changes in the solar wind with spacecraft. We use data from Nasa's Advanced Composition Explorer, which is 1.5million km closer to the sun than we are. This gives us some idea of what might be coming our way in the next hours" - Alan Thomson, geophysicist at the British Geological Survey.

Activity on the sun such as solar flares and sun spots produce electrical particles that rain down on Earth, causing fluctuations in the geomagnetic field beneath the Earth's crust.
The early warning system uses a combination of data from the Nasa spacecraft and measurements made on Earth to work out the potential damage that could be caused by an oncoming storm.
Geomagnetic storms are rated on a scale of one to five with the lowest being minor events and the highest being extreme.
In 1989 the worst known storm to be associated with a blackout caused the power grid in Quebec, Canada to catastrophically fail leaving millions of people without power for hours.
The last major power surge due to a geomagnetic storm hit Scotland in April 2000, although it caused no damage.

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L

Posts: 129897
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RE: Aurora 12 Jun 2005
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Aurora Alert, 17:01 UT 12 Jun 2005

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L

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RE:Aurora
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L

Posts: 129897
Date:
Geomagnetic storms
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Two links for Aurora watchers.
They use data from ground-based magnetometers.

One based at York, UK

Example picture

http://www.dcs.lancs.ac.uk/summary/aurorawatch/rolling.png
(Copy and bookmark onto your browser for real-time data)
(Note: the guys there don’t like this to linked into websites, and will block addresses)


The other at base stations in America, http://www.sec.noaa.gov/rt_plots/kp_3d.html
(Website updates every 15 minutes)

K-indices of 5 or greater (er, they’re red) indicate storm-level geomagnetic activity.



-- Edited by Blobrana at 11:32, 2005-05-25

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