The Sun maintains a turbulent behavior, with multiple flares and coronal mass ejections having been recorded virtually every day since mid-January – meaning some of these outbursts have been towards Earth, so there will be storms solar this week. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center and the UK Met Office have already issued warnings for light and moderate geomagnetic storms in the coming days.
☀ Satellite images show a CME leaving the sun yesterday which could produce minor/moderate geomagnetic storms on March 13 or 14, with aurora sightings possible over Scotland and northern England.
Get the latest aurora forecasts ? https://t.co/L2a0b4XDih@metoffice #SpaceWeather pic.twitter.com/U78SWBqUee
— Met Office Space (@MetOfficeSpace) March 11, 2022
That’s not something we need to worry about, however: we’ve already been hit by light to moderate geomagnetic storms in recent days, which reached G1 and G2 on the five-level solar storm scale – a level that indicates that there could be some degradation of high frequency radio signals at high latitudes and may mean that corrective actions are needed on satellites due to changes in drag. There may also be power grid fluctuations and some disruption of migratory animal activity. It will also be possible to see an increase in Northern Lights and Northern Lights.
“There is a hypothesis of enhancements to the auroral oval following two coronal mass ejections and a high-velocity flow from the coronal hole reaching Earth,” the British Met Office reported. These “shows” of light can be seen up to 55 degrees latitude at each pole.
Solar storms are fairly normal space weather, occurring whenever the Sun becomes more active. As a result, CMEs and solar winds cause disturbances in the Earth’s magnetic field and upper atmosphere – both occurring today.
CMEs are exactly what they sound like. The Sun’s corona – the outermost region of its atmosphere – erupts and ejects plasma and magnetic fields into space. If the CME is pointed towards Earth, the collision of solar ejecta with the Earth’s magnetic field can cause a geomagnetic storm – also known as a solar storm. Solar winds emerge from “holes” in the solar corona, which are cooler, less dense regions of plasma in the solar atmosphere, with more open magnetic fields. These open regions allow solar winds to escape more easily, blowing electromagnetic radiation out into space at high speeds.
When charged particles from the Sun reach Earth’s atmosphere, they are funneled along Earth’s magnetic field lines towards the poles, where they rain down into the upper atmosphere and interact with molecules – this interaction ionizes the molecules and causes them to glow, creating dawn.
According to the aurora forecast “Space Weather”, this Monday and Tuesday will show maximum levels of Kp 6 and Kp 5, respectively, in the Kp index of ten points of geomagnetic activity, which will mean a strong possibility of auroras bright and dynamic. with the likelihood of aurora crowns, so now is a good time to grab your camera and look up at the sky.
The Sun has been a little more active lately: our star experiences 11-year cycles of activity, with a marked peak and trough, called solar maximum and solar minimum. Solar minimum, when the Sun’s magnetic field is weakest, occurs when the Sun’s magnetic poles change places. The most recent solar minimum occurred in December 2019. This recent activity means that we are approaching solar maximum when the solar magnetic field is strongest. As it is the Sun’s magnetic field that controls its activity, you may see an increase in sunspots, solar flares and CMEs – solar maximum is expected to occur around July 2025. It is difficult to predict how much of a cycle given will be active. , but there is evidence to suggest we may be entering the most intense cycle on record – more powerful solar storms could cause bigger problems, scientists warn.