X-Class solar flare blasts CME directly at Earth

Large sunspot Group AR1520, seen below just right of center, was pointed directly at Earth when the flare occurred.

The GOES Xray Flux spike hit X 1.4, just barely an X-class: 

From Spaceweather.com

Big sunspot AR1520 unleashed an X1.4-class solar flare on July 12th at 1653 UT. Because this sunspot is directly facing Earth, everything about the blast was geoeffective. For one thing, it hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) directly toward our planet. According to a forecast track prepared by analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, the CME will hit Earth on July 14th around 10:20 UT (+/- 7 hours) and could spark strong geomagnetic storms.

The explosion also strobed Earth with a pulse of extreme UV radiation, shown here in a movie recorded by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory:

The UV pulse partially ionized Earth’s upper atmosphere, disturbing the normal propagation of radio signals around the planet. Monitoring stations in Norway, Ireland and Italy recorded the sudden ionospheric disturbance.

Finally, solar protons accelerated by the blast are swarming around Earth. The radiation storm, in progress, ranks “S1″ on NOAA space weather scales, which means it poses no serious threat to satellites or astronauts. This could change if the storm continues to intensify. Stay tuned.

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56 Responses to X-Class solar flare blasts CME directly at Earth

  1. As solar storm go, this is a moderate one. Judging from the magnetic field in the photosphere the orientation of the field in the CME magnetic cloud seems to be pointing North at its front. This is another hint of only a weak geomagnetic storm. But we shall see.

  2. Rob Dekker says:

    Thanks Anthony,
    Curious : how strong is this Solar flare compared to some other ones we experienced over the past year ?
    Also, (how much) is solar irradiance (total solar output) affected by flares like this ?

  3. Brian H says:

    Ohno! Nekked protons! They’ll eat all our spare electrons! Flee! Fly! Flow!

    What Flum?

  4. Mike Bromley the Kurd says:

    Here is #1520 (and its companion group, #1519) setting with the sun into Demir Dagh Ridge, near Mosul, Iraq.

    http://www.tuxedo-mines.com/DSC09129.JPG

  5. Kelvin Vaughan says:

    Does that mean I will have to take extra proton pump inhibitors or my heartburn will get worse?

  6. Computer modeling would be so much easier if the Sun would just remain constant. Now we have to add a solar fudge factor.

  7. John Doe says:

    To hit the earth it needs to pointed at where the earth will be a few days from now, doesn’t it? Pointed directly at us today means the earth will have moved out of the way by the time it arrives sort of like failing to lead the clay pigeon in a skeet shoot.

  8. Robert of Ottawa says:

    SO, impact on Sunday?

  9. Thanks for the news and analysis.

  10. Rob Dekker says:
    July 12, 2012 at 10:56 pm
    Also, (how much) is solar irradiance (total solar output) affected by flares like this ?
    VERY little. We can hardly measure how little. Only for flares ten times as strong is the a measurably effect: http://spot.colorado.edu/~koppg/TSI/ “While flares are readily detectable at short wavelengths, where the Sun generally has relatively low signal, their contribution to the entire energy output from the Sun is almost negligibly small, making them extremely difficult to detect in TSI”

  11. John Doe says:
    July 13, 2012 at 4:13 am
    To hit the earth it needs to pointed at where the earth will be a few days from now, doesn’t it?
    No, as the Earth moves rather slowly, approximately one degree [seen from the Sun - in one year, 365 days, the Earth covers a full circle, 360 degrees]. It takes the CME four days [at most] the travel from the Sun to the Earth. The CME is wide, some 50 degrees, so that the earth has moved 4 degrees out of the 50, doesn’t matter.

  12. Strange the MSM has not catch in on this one, as this one is directed at Earth.

  13. TomB says:

    The clarity and resolution of the recording of that event is stunning. With multiple space-born scientific observation platforms, we’re poised to learn more – and more quickly – than we ever have before. What a fascinating area of science Leif Svalgaard gets to explore. I envy you.

  14. hell_is_like_newark says:

    So in a day or so, we won’t experience something similar to the final scene of that god-awful movie “knowing”…

  15. Jim murphy says:

    will this intensify the northern lights?

  16. Jim murphy says:
    July 13, 2012 at 11:28 am
    will this intensify the northern lights?
    Yes, some, but not spectacularly, such as moving the northern light down to very low latitudes.

  17. Steve Lohr says:

    Hey, I am heading for the top of the continental divide with my Nikon just on the outside chance something interesting might happen. I had an alpine start planned for a hike with a friend tomorrow anyway. What the heck, you never know.

  18. Steven says:

    Computer modeling would be much easier if you just put the electro back into magnetic. Even your very first graph says it all.

  19. Steven says:

    Love the video too, very electricity like isn’t it

  20. Lady Life Grows says:

    Actually, it’s a good excuse to check your survival preps for storms like the one that hit DC a week ago. Don’t expect to actually need anything, but if a big one ever happens, and you are prepared, you’ll be glad.

  21. uninformedLuddite says:

    Never having heard of the movie knowing I decided to watch the youtube clip. You owe me ten minutes.

  22. Steven says:
    July 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm
    Computer modeling would be much easier if you just put the electro back into magnetic. Even your very first graph says it all.
    The effect of the CMEon the Earth is caused by its magnetic field reconnecting with the Earth’s. The resulting magnetic configuration is unstable and will eventually break down, creating electric currents that light up the sky.

  23. This situation of extreme earth facing events on the Sun (significant active Regions /Coronal Holes) just preceding extreme weather events ~13-14.5 July (ie 14/15th) on Earth was predicted by WeatherAction in forecasts issued end June
    http://www.weatheraction.com/displayarticle.asp?a=472&c=5
    Piers Corbyn

  24. Piers Corbyn (@Piers_Corbyn) says:
    July 13, 2012 at 7:27 pm
    This situation of extreme earth facing events on the Sun (significant active Regions /Coronal Holes) … was predicted by WeatherAction in forecasts issued end June
    Since the Sun is rotating and large active regions live for longer than one rotation, it is no big feat to ‘forecast’ a recurrence of the region 27 days later:
    http://www.specola.ch/drawings/2012/loc-d20120711.JPG and
    http://www.specola.ch/drawings/2012/loc-d20120614.JPG

  25. sorry if posted twice. WUWT was not responding…

  26. Jim Arndt says:

    Piers Corbyn (@Piers_Corbyn) says:
    July 13, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    “This situation of extreme earth facing events on the Sun (significant active Regions /Coronal Holes) just preceding extreme weather events”

    There are always an extreme weather event somewhere on the planet so this is an open ended forecast.

    Jim Arndt

  27. Julian Braggins says:

    An explanation of how a Solar Flare would effect the Earth’s magnetic and electrical fields can be deduced from here, which uses standard electric, electronic, and plasma engineering science.
    http://www.thunderbolts.info/wp/2012/01/17/essential-guide-to-the-eu-chapter-8/

  28. Rob Dekker says:

    Thanks for your notes, Leif.
    Incidentally, this solar cycle 25 seems to be late, and its amplitude seem to be the weakest in centuries.
    How much did that effect reduce TSI (total solal irradiance) as expressed in W/m^2 on planet Earth over the past decade, and how much is that reduction compared to the increase in GHG radiative forcing over the same period ?

  29. Gary Pate says:

    So what happened? Are we all going to die or what?

  30. Jim Arndt says:
    July 13, 2012 at 8:42 pm
    http://research.aerology.com/severe-weather/derecho-storm-seen-from-space/
    Is an example of the use of the lunar declinational patterns to see the short term effects of solar flares and CME on the usual global circulation patterns driven by the moon alone.
    Piers Corbyn (@Piers_Corbyn) says:
    July 13, 2012 at 7:27 pm
    If you want a copy of all of my tabled raw data, the program for deriving the csv files, and the software to plot the maps, for all four past analog cycles, and the composite that gets posted on my site just let me know. info@ or richard@

  31. Rob Dekker says:

    Piers,
    Since Leif just showed that variations in TSI from solar flares are hardly measurable, why (physical reason please) do you think solar flares affect the weather at all, let alone cause ‘extreme weather events’ ?

  32. Julian Braggins says:
    July 14, 2012 at 12:38 am
    An explanation of how a Solar Flare would effect the Earth’s magnetic and electrical fields can be deduced from here, which uses standard electric, electronic, and plasma engineering science.
    http://www.thunderbolts.info/wp/2012/01/17/essential-guide-to-the-eu-chapter-8/

    That is no explanation at all. An explanation means giving numbers: how large is the effect given the input. EU can’t give you those numbers because their ‘explanation’ is no explanation. If you want a real explanation [which we have known for half a century you can find it here: http://www.leif.org/research/Geomagnetic-Response-to-Solar-Wind.pdf
    The appendix shows how to calculate the size of the effect.

    Rob Dekker says:
    July 14, 2012 at 1:09 am
    Thanks for your notes, Leif.
    Incidentally, this solar cycle 25 seems to be late, and its amplitude seem to be the weakest in centuries.
    You probably mean cycle 24. Number 25 is still about ten years away.

    How much did that effect reduce TSI (total solal irradiance) as expressed in W/m^2 on planet Earth over the past decade, and how much is that reduction compared to the increase in GHG radiative forcing over the same period ?
    The changes in TSI are very small, of the order of 1 W/m^2. About GHG you can find estimates in many places [do some searching yourself]

  33. Julian Braggins says:
    July 14, 2012 at 12:38 am
    An explanation of how a Solar Flare would effect the Earth’s magnetic and electrical fields can be deduced from here…
    Your link contains this interesting statement [which BTW is almost correct, except 'ionosphere' should be 'magnetosphere']:
    “Any ions and electrons in the vicinity, for example, in the ionosphere, will therefore acquire velocities perpendicular to both B and g under the combined influence of gravity and the magnetic field. Because the velocities of ions and electrons are in opposite directions, this is equivalent to a current flowing in a ring around the equatorial plane.”
    So, the current is created from the magnetic field and gravity according to EU theory.

  34. solarlux says:

    Leif, doesn’t the plasma ejecta cloud rotate and twist during its transit here? As so, wouldn’t that tend to render the original magnetic configuration less relevant?

  35. solarlux says:
    July 14, 2012 at 7:28 am
    doesn’t the plasma ejecta cloud rotate and twist during its transit here? As so, wouldn’t that tend to render the original magnetic configuration less relevant?
    There is some twisting, but since the cloud is still connected back via its magnetic field most of the original configuration is intact. Here is more on CMEs: http://solarphysics.livingreviews.org/open?pubNo=lrsp-2011-1&page=articlesu11.html

  36. solarlux says:

    Thanks, that is helpful. So in cases where the leading edge arrives with exactly opposite the expected magnetic polarity … is that mainly due to a difficulty in inferring the cloud configuration from the alignment of the originating active area? Or is it due to inferring incorrectly *what* precise area produced the CME?

  37. solarlux says:
    July 14, 2012 at 9:17 am
    So in cases where the leading edge arrives with exactly opposite the expected magnetic polarity … is that mainly due to a difficulty in inferring the cloud configuration from the alignment of the originating active area? Or is it due to inferring incorrectly *what* precise area produced the CME?
    Both, but usually the expected polarity is also what arrives. E.g. for this CME, it has arrived, the leading has northward pointing flux as I predicted from eyeballed magnetograms of the sun, and, as expected, the resulting ‘storm’ is very minor [so far...]

  38. solarlux says:

    It definitely seems like a tricky science. The largest geomagnetic storm of SC23 originated from CMEs associated with < M5 flare(s) with a max wind speed of 730 km/s. It seems to be all about the magnetic configuration.

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/current/si/links/2004GL021639.pdf

    So no bow shock with this current one incoming?

  39. solarlux says:

    Ah… never mind, here it comes.

  40. The leading edge of the ion flux coming into Minnesota and also Newfoundland NOW watch as this sweeps South/East to see if the increased rainfall follows the past derocheo pattern?
    http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~ovens/loops/wxloop.cgi?wv_east_enhanced+50+-update+3600
    Slow connection warning 68 meg bit loop of the the past 50 1/2 hour satellite images, so you can see the changes from yesterday.

  41. Rob Dekker says:

    Leif said :

    The changes in TSI are very small, of the order of 1 W/m^2. About GHG you can find estimates in many places [do some searching yourself]

    Thanks Leif. That 1 W/m^2 spread out over the Earth’s surface would be a reduction of 0.25 W/m^2, right ?
    For doubling of CO2 (280 ppm->560 ppm) generally 3.7 W/m^2 in GHG forcing is calculated. So, in first order approximation, the 2ppm/year we add in CO2 would cause 0.13 W/m^2 forcing over the past decade.
    So would it be fair to say that reduction in solar activity (TSI) over the past decade probably reduced radiative forcing, even when increase in CO2 would be accounted for ?

  42. Rob Dekker says:

    I’m sorry Leif. 3.7 W/m^2 / 280 ppm = 0.013, so our 2 ppm CO2 should have caused 0.26 W/m^2 increase in forcing.
    Which appears to be at the same order of magnitude as the reduction in TSI over the same period.
    Does that sound right, or did TSI go back up to the peak levels of previous solar cycles ?

  43. Rob Dekker says:
    July 15, 2012 at 2:07 am
    did TSI go back up to the peak levels of previous solar cycles ?
    The 1 W/m^2 variation is cyclic. So TSI does indeed return to about the same peak value, except that the peak value depends on the sunspot number. It is not so that the solar cycle average is 1 W/m^2 lower, only the peak value. Slice 25 of http://www.leif.org/research/What-is-Wrong-with-GSN.pdf shows [the red curve] what I think the variation of TSI has been the last 400 years.

  44. Steven says:

    Leif, you and I know that relativity ties the electric and magnetic force into one thing. Why do you always go against your very own theory to exclude the electric force? Do you not believe in relativity?

  45. Steven says:
    July 15, 2012 at 7:42 am
    relativity ties the electric and magnetic force into one thing.
    Nothing to do with relativity. Maxwell’s equations unify the electric and magnetic force. This is consistent with special relativity, is all. The Electric forces are not excluded. Every explosive effect occurring in a plasma is due to the short circuiting of electric currents, which in turn are generated by moving the conducting plasma across a magnetic field. No magnetic field, no current.

  46. Steven says:

    Leif, I actually read your paper and i see energy of the system mentioned numerous times. What is this energy Leif?

  47. Steven says:

    Leif Svalgaard says: No magnetic field, no current.

    That’s what you keep parroting. But why was the neutron deduced it was not a fundamental particle because it apparently had a magnetic moment and was neutral? It could not be reconciled with known laws that the particle could possess a magnetic moment and be neutral, It was later discovered that it was composed of quarks, charged particles that by their spin and interaction with one another that the magnetic moment of the neutron was made possible.
    E=mc^2 demands that a particle completely at rest, not moving in your magnetic field, possess charge, contrary to everything you have been saying.

  48. Steven says:

    [snip - off topic, submit to the correct thread please ~mod]

  49. Steven says:

    Lol, off topic, you mean no answer

  50. Steven says:
    July 15, 2012 at 11:45 am
    Leif, I actually read your paper and i see energy of the system mentioned numerous times. What is this energy Leif?
    Wow, amazing [and that you should say 'actually' suggesting that you normally do not pay attention to anything]. But which paper are you referring to? Ir is very likely that energy is mentioned in just about any physical paper.

  51. Steven says:
    July 15, 2012 at 11:52 am
    E=mc^2 demands that a particle completely at rest, not moving in your magnetic field, possess charge, contrary to everything you have been saying.
    Apart from this being nonsense it is also irrelevant.

  52. Steven says:
    July 15, 2012 at 11:52 am
    E=mc^2 demands that a particle completely at rest, not moving in your magnetic field, possess charge
    What Einstein showed [I have his 1905 paper right here in front of me] was, and I quote “If a body gives off the energy L in the form of radiation, its mass diminishes by L/c^2. The fact that the energy withdrawn from the body becomes energy of radiation evidently makes no difference”
    No mention of that E=Mc^2 demands that the particle possesses charge, in fact it “evidently makes no difference”.

  53. Rob Dekker says:

    Leif,
    Thank you for the link to your presentation. Impressive amount of details on the methods of observation of sun spots over the centuries, and how this may have affected total solar irradiance over that period. You make a compelling argument which seem to suggest that TSI has varied even less over the past 3 centuries than the Wang et al 2005 analysis suggests, which was already less than the Lean et al 2000 assessment.

    If your assessment is correct, then there is very little the sun has contributed to any climate change since at least the Little Ice Age.

    Still, do you have any other independent assessment of TSI which confirms (of contradicts) your estimates ?

    How about beryllium isotope analysis ? Does that method provide enough statistical significant accuracy in this debate about past solar irradiance, or is there too much noise in that signal to differentiate between, say, Lean et al 2000 and your assessment of TSI over the centuries ?

  54. Rob Dekker says:
    July 16, 2012 at 1:51 am
    How about beryllium isotope analysis ?

    http://www.leif.org/EOS/2009GL038004-Berggren.pdf :
    “Recent 10Be values are low; however, they do not indicate unusually high recent solar activity compared to the last 600 years”

    http://www.leif.org/EOS/2011GL046658.pdf :
    “Therefore, the best estimate of magnetic activity, and presumably TSI, for the least‐active Maunder Minimum phases appears to be provided by direct measurement in 2008–2009. … suggests that drivers other than TSI dominate Earth’s long‐term climate change”

    A problem with the isotope analysis is that many factors determine what we see, not only solar activity but also climate and changes in the Earth’s magnetic field.

    This is an active research area right now. I’m leading two workshops on that:
    http://www.leif.org/research/Svalgaard_ISSI_Proposal_Base.pdf
    http://ssnworkshop.wikia.com/wiki/Home

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