Earth just survived TWO geomagnetic storms! And this was the impact
On March 14 and 15th, two strong geomagnetic storms struck the Earth. Find out the impact of these storms on our home planet.
A few days ago, the Sun underwent a series of combustion reactions that gave rise to large solar flare activities and resultant coronal mass ejections (CME) flung several million kilometers in space. Soon after, on March 14 and 15, geomagnetic storms, also known as solar storms, hit our planet. Normally, solar storms can be quite dangerous. The most powerful of them are capable of even causing a large-scale power grid failure and damage to satellite infrastructure that controls the internet, GPS services, mobile networks and much more. Thankfully, these solar storms were not as dangerous with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) classifying the geomagnetic storm on Monday as G1 (minor) and the one on Tuesday as G2 (moderate).
Currently, the Earth is in the middle of a mild solar storm streak. The first storm hit Earth on March 13 and then two subsequent storms were seen on March 14 and 15. These more frequent geomagnetic storms are being caused by the Sun's active phase, which is also known as solar maximum. The solar maximum is the regular period of greatest solar activity during the Sun's 11-year solar cycle. According to scientists, Earth entered this phase sometime last year and it is going to continue for a while. Although so far we have only seen minor incidents of solar storms, a severe one could be just around the corner.
What are Geomagnetic storms
Geomagnetic storms, or solar storms are intense eruptions of electromagnetic radiation in the Sun's atmosphere. These are caused by random spontaneous combustions on the surface of the Sun, which we call solar flares or CME. The combustions shoot these radiations out in space at very high speed and it often looks like a storm cloud, where the name is derived from.
Why are geomagnetic storms dangerous
Geomagnetic storms do not really affect humans, but it can cause significant damage to the electronics we use. From our smartphones to satellites can all be affected by a geomagnetic storm. In severe situations, they can even damage a power grid and cause failure. In a world where everything is interconnected and the internet, GPS and mobile network are extremely crucial, if a solar storm hitting Earth damages it all, it can quite literally bring life to a halt and cause massive destruction indirectly.
How dangerous were the geomagnetic storms which hit us this week
These solar storms were on the mild side, with the NOAA giving it a G1 and G2 rating. Solar storms are divided into 5 categories from G1 to G5, where G1 is the mildest and G5 is the most severe geomagnetic storm. The ones that hit Earth on Monday and Tuesday did not cause any significant damage to satellites or mobile networks. However, near the northern horizon, Aurora was observed. Aurora is a natural light display in Earth's sky, predominantly seen in high-latitude regions. Auroras display dynamic patterns of brilliant lights that appear as curtains, rays, spirals, or dynamic flickers covering the entire sky.
However, not all solar storms are beautiful to look at. The situation is concerning because there is no way to predict when a strong solar storm may head towards us. And with our existing technology, there is not much we can do in case one does hit us.
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