3 CME’s headed our way – geomagnetic storminess set for earth

http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/sxi/images/latest_sxi.png

From the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center, word that our recent X-class (and lesser magnitude) solar flares have released three Coronal Mass Ejections (CME’s) toward Earth:

The calm before the storm. Three CMEs are enroute, all a part of the Radio Blackout events on February 13, 14, and 15 (UTC). The last of the three seems to be the fastest and may catch both of the forerunners about mid to late day tomorrow, February 17. Watch this space for updates on the impending — G2, possibly periods of G3 — geomagnetic storming.

From Today’s Space Weather :

Geophysical Activity Forecast: The geomagnetic field is expected to be quiet to unsettled on day one (16 February). Day two (17 February) is expected to be quiet to active with a chance for minor storming late in the period. Day three (18 February) is expected to be unsettled to active with a chance for minor storming. The increase in activity is forecast due to expected arrival of the CME from the X2 event described in part IA.

Aurora watchers can keep a lookout using this display:

This plot shows the current extent and position of the auroral oval in the northern hemisphere, extrapolated from measurements taken during the most recent polar pass of the NOAA POES satellite.

The red arrow in the plot, that looks like a clock hand, points toward the noon meridian.

The statistical pattern depicting the auroral oval is appropriate to the auroral activity level determined from the power flux observed during the most recent polar satellite pass. The power fluxes in the statistical pattern are color coded on a scale from 0 to 10 ergs .cm-2.sec-1 according to the color bar on the right. The pattern has been oriented with respect to the underlying geographic map using the current universal time, updated every ten minutes.

This presentation provides an estimate of the location, extent, and intensity of aurora on a global basis. For example, the presentation gives a guide to the possibility that the aurora is located near a given location in the northern hemisphere under the conditions that existed at the time of the most recent polar satellite pass.

Normalization factor (n)
A normalization factor of less than 2.0 indicates a reasonable level of confidence in the estimate of power. The more the value of n exceeds 2.0, the less confidence should be placed in the estimate of hemispheric power and the activity level.

The process to estimate the hemispheric power, and the level of auroral activity, involves using this normalization factor which takes into account how effective the satellite was in sampling the aurora during its transit over the polar region. A large (> 2.0) normalization factor indicates that the transit through the aurora was not very effective and the resulting estimate of auroral activity has a lower confidence. In order for users to assess the confidence in a given estimate of auroral power, we now report the numerical value of the normalization factor in our web pages.

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29 Responses to 3 CME’s headed our way – geomagnetic storminess set for earth

  1. Madman2001 says:

    I enjoy this blog not only for its coverage of climate craziness, but also the basic gee-whiz science postings such as this or the preceding one on radioactive bananas. Congrats.

  2. John Cooper says:

    I hope this doesn’t knock out the satellites beaming American Idol to the people of America!

  3. Tom B says:

    I heard on the morning radio news that there was a chance to see some Auroras tomorrow. That would be cool.

  4. Sun Spot says:

    This is interesting, but how is the blogasphere going to handle a truly active sun like in the 90′s ??

  5. Philip Mulholland says:

    Online access to the Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory, University of Oulu, Finland. All-Sky Cameras

  6. Great Greyhounds says:

    One of my mates from the UK is currently on Holiday in Lapland, above the Arctic Circle, on a ‘Northern Lights’ Expedition. He was pretty excited to learn of the X-Class Solar Flare via email this morning, and I’m hoping he gets some wonderful imagery captured.

  7. Baa Humbug says:

    Thanx for that, very interesting.

    We now need Piers Corbyn to tell us how these CMEs will effect our climate.
    We’re supposed to be in for some extreme weather around the end of the month.

  8. _Jim says:

    So far, have seen little effect on that part of the ionosphere that enhances propagation at 20 to 30 MHz, although 15 MHz WWV (Ft. Collins, CO) was strong at times yesterday …

    .

  9. INGSOC says:

    I wonder if Tallbloke is again going to hold his “furthest south” aurora viewing contest? We have scattered and unsettled skies here in SW BC, and viewing should be fairly good at times.

    Thanks for the heads up.

  10. 1DandyTroll says:

    How come the polar regions on Sol in the plane of that image are colder than the rest of the body?

  11. JER0ME says:

    Just had a nice little bask in the sun this morning. All OK, the UV index for Sydney si a temperate 3.

    I looked at the forecast, wondering if it would be OK this arvo, and saw a 10+ forecast for the whole of Oz for the next 24 hours. I assume this is related, and am am very glad I looked!

  12. Caleb says:

    All I can see in Southern NH this evening is a bright full moon. Pity it isn’t a new moon.

  13. 1DandyTroll says:
    February 16, 2011 at 4:28 pm
    How come the polar regions on Sol in the plane of that image are colder than the rest of the body?
    The brightness is not a measure of the temperature but of the density, so how come the polar regions of the solar corona are much less dense that the rest? The answer is partly that the density depends on how much material is trapped in the closed magnetic loops, and there are no closed loops in the polar regions: the magnetic field extends straight into the solar wind and plasma is thus simply not trapped.

  14. Pamela Gray says:

    Is that related to the shape of magnetic shavings when a magnet is applied? Loops in the middle, sticks on the ends?

  15. Pamela Gray says:

    Baa Humbug, I would be looking at pressure ridges building up or falling apart somewhere nearby that will eventually come your way, not the CME coming at you. The CME will not have enough energy to significantly affect the weather process. The energy intrinsic in pressure systems is gigantic compared to the bedbug energy in a CME in terms of affecting weather patterns.

  16. John Cooper says:

    I had been thinking that the transit time from the Sun to the Earth for a CME was the same 6 minutes as it is for light, but apparently that’s not the case. The particles ejected . in a CME travel much, much slower than light – in the range of 300 to 500 Kilometers per Second. I poked around on the Internet for a while and apparently it’s a three-dimensional math problem with a number of unknowns like initial velocity and drag along the way.

    The bottom line (as far as I can tell) is that nobody can predict exactly when the effects of the CME will arrive. Using the “best guess” numbers I found, I came up with a transit time of 4.77 days.

    Does this seem about right?

  17. planejaner says:

    A friend of mine, upon hearing that we may disconnect our land-line connection this week and go entirely to cell-phones…said that I should wait until the solar flares were gone.

    being completely non-scientific of mind, I said, “huh?”

    so–he pointed me to this post–thanks for the information!

    blessings
    jane

  18. John Cooper says:
    February 17, 2011 at 7:39 am
    Using the “best guess” numbers I found, I came up with a transit time of 4.77 days. Does this seem about right?
    Yes, except that there are some CMEs that are really fast so the transit time can be a few hours less than a day in rare cases. Because of such a large spread, quoting the transit time to two decimals is not very meaningful. Better to say 4 1/2 days.

  19. John Cooper says:

    Leif: Thank you for your expert opinion, since I’m in no way an expert on this. So if the flare reached its maximum at 17:38 UTC (or 12:38 PM EST) on Feb. 13th, adding 4 1/2 days would put the peak of the “event” here on earth at around 05:30 UTC on the 18th, or around midnight tonight (Feb. 17th), EST where I live.

    I’m looking forward to seeing photos of the Aurora Borealis on weatherunderground.com or elsewhere.

  20. _Jim says:

    planejaner February 17, 2011 at 7:44 am

    A friend of mine, upon hearing that we may disconnect our land-line connection this week and go entirely to cell-phones…said that I should wait until the solar flares were gone.

    Wait – what am I – what are we missing here? The same telco infrastructure is used for backhaul of the cell site voice and data on trunks (via DS1′s on fiber back to CO’s – Central Offices or switching centers) as is used for the land-line telephones (hanging off the ends of POTS lines) … so, where’s the perceived vulnerability?

    (Pls don’t be thinking there are ‘solar-induced effects’ on the uplink/downlink radio signals to/from the cell site! We’re talking a ‘path’ that averages a couple miles at most in the cities these days and the cell-site coverage is intended to be terrestrial in nature, not extraterrestrial.)

    Not to dispel any urban rumors or anything!

    .

  21. The first CME has just hit. As predicted it starts out with northwards field.

  22. Northern Exposure says:

    This is typical Murphy’s Law for me…

    In my part of Canada it’s completely cloudy and will be as such for at least a few days. No beautiful aurora viewing for this pussycat.

    And it’s the same story every time we have scheduled meteor showers.
    I just can’t win.

    *sigh*

  23. mattb says:

    Looks like the Cme might finally be getting here. The kp is up to 5, the wind speed is up, and we had another high m class flare at about the same time.

  24. mattb says:
    February 18, 2011 at 4:16 am
    Looks like the Cme might finally be getting here. The kp is up to 5, the wind speed is up, and we had another high m class flare at about the same time.
    As predicted the CME did not cause a major storm as its magnetic field was pointing northwards. The flare is from the other active region. That region is predicted to generate CMEs with southwards fields so the storm [in three days] resulting may be severe.

  25. mattb says:

    A slight side leif, we have some equipment at work that has been getting a bit flaky the last few days. It is a com line running at 56k bps on a 422 bus (bi directional serial). Any thoughts on if these flares could be giving it fits? Or would they likely be too small just yet. I have noticed lots of pops on the radio too.

  26. mattb says:
    February 18, 2011 at 9:33 am
    Any thoughts on if these flares could be giving it fits? Or would they likely be too small just yet. I have noticed lots of pops on the radio too.
    I don’t think you can blame the flares. A very strong ‘superstorm’ of geomagnetic activity could induce currents, but this storm is not nearly there.

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