Solar storm continues, geomagnetic storm and auroras expected

We have about three hours to go for the expected arrival time of the CME at 0625 UTC/1025 PM PST. Proton flux remains high as do other indicators. Additionally another C class solar flare just occured.

http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/rt_plots/Proton.gif

This bulletin just in from NOAA SWPC:

2012-03-08 03:18 UTC  Solar Radiation Storm Continues, Geomagnetic Storming Expected

The coronal mass ejection (CME) associated with the R3 (Strong) Radio Blackout event from 0024 UTC March 7 (7:24 p.m. EST March 6) is forecast to pass ACE early morning UTC on March 8 (start of day EST March 8). Geomagnetic storm periods reaching the G3 (Strong) level are likely as a result.  Additionally, the Solar Radiation Storm levels remain above the S3 (Strong) threshold at this time. Region 1429 remains potent and subsequent activity is certainly possible. Updates here as conditions warrant.

http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/rt_plots/Xray.gif

UPDATE: 825PM

I’ll know more once the CME particles pass the L1 point where the ACE satellite is station-keeping, of course that only gives me a few light seconds warning…but the CME particles are moving much slower than lightspeed, it will be at least a few minutes depending on how fast they are traveling.

Since POES is down for terrestrial computer maintenace, I’m watching the OVATION aurora forecast model right now, but it doesn’t get very accurate until particles pass the L1 point and ACE relays the data…if the solar wind is too strong, ACE saturates the sensor and the forecast gets barmy. http://helios.swpc.noaa.gov/ovation/ Image below updates every 10 minutes.

This is also useful to watch, when it spikes, CME has hit L1

And Leif recommends this plot, MAG- SWEPAM plasma:

UPDATE: 2012-03-08 15:03 UTC  Geomagnetic Storm has Started, Solar Radiation Storm Continues

The coronal mass ejection (CME) associated with the R3 (Strong) Radio Blackout event from 0024 UTC March 7 (7:24 p.m. EST March 6) arrived at ACE at 1045 UTC today (5:45 a.m. EST March 8).  So far the orientation of the magnetic field has been opposite of what is needed to cause the strongest storming.  As the event progresses, that field will continue to change.  Based on overall strength, the predictions for periods reaching the G3 level look justified.  Additionally, the Solar Radiation Storm levels remain above the S3 (Strong) threshold at this time, with values rising momentarily with shock arrival.  Region 1429 remains potent and subsequent activity is certainly possible. Updates here as conditions warrant.

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Based on the magnetic configuration of 11429, the CME magnetic field will be pointing South when it hits the Earth. This would predict a strong storm.

kbray in california

Why don’t they build Flaremills ?
or solar flare panels…
Put them up right next to the windmills.
Keep all that green in one spot.

Mike Wryley

I either read somewhere or had a hallucination that during these kinds of events, residents of orbiting space craft actually see flashes of light in their closed eyes as the hydrogen nuclei scintillate inside of the eyeball. Pretty wild stuff when you consider all the micro electronics around you being shot full of charged particles.
I can’t imagine being violated by high energy protons, can’t be good for you DNA either.

mark wagner

Before I die I would like to see an aurora. I can get two days’ notice to buy airline tickets, but how far north would I have to go? Can I fly to Michigan? Or somewhere into Canada?

Clive

Alarm clock set .. tripod polished … lots of film (ha ha) and all ready to take photos.
Not seen good lights for years! Not before digital. Fingers crossed.

Mac the Knife

Rats! We have a high thin overcast tonight, in the Seattle area.

TG McCoy (Douglas DC)

Same high thin ovc is over NE Oregon-plus that blasted full moon…
Hit statrs about 11:00 pm (2300) as I understand..

Anthony, you should show SWEPAM instead. The sign of the magnetic field is critical.

And – PJM (Pennsylvania Jersey Maryland) RTO ‘power’ control area are on top of it:
Per: https://emergproc.pjm.com/ep/guest_login.htm
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
High System Voltage 03/07/2012
22:45 Mid-Atlantic – Region
Southern – Region As of 22:45 New hours, all companies shall take the following actions on the Bulk Electric System: 1. Switch capacitors out of service. 2. Switch reactors in service. 3. Ensure all SVCs are absorbing reactive power. 4. Generation Owners coordinate reactive power adjustments with Transmission Owners (TOs). 5. Generation Owners communicate with PJM and TOs restrictions to their generators ability to absorb MVARs that vary from existing “D” curve. Target: Distribution Companies/Transmission Owners/Generation
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Solar Magnetic Disturbance Warning 03/07/2012
18:30 PJM – RTO As of 18:30 hours, an SMD warning of K4 to K6 or greater is in effect beginning at 03:00 and will continue for the next 18:00 hours. PJM will issue any SMD events or extended warnings posted on the RCIS by MISO St. Paul via the PJM All-Call. Additional Comments: This is based on NOAA 3 hour planetary index. From 0300 March 8 until 2100 March 8.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

ISO – New England:
http://www.iso-ne.com/psc/view.do
Power System Conditions – Normal
.

> We have about three hours to go for the expected arrival time of the CME at 0625 UTC/1025 PST
0625 UTC is right, that makes it 2225 PST (the day before), and 0125 EST (where I have clouds).

ldd

@mark wagner
North Bay and Sudbury are not too far off the beaten track from TO (Ontario) but even that’s often on the southern limits for araura viewing. Have seen them there though, summers, winters and even from inside the smaller city of North Bay.

kbray in california

Is there a way to quantify the energy represented by such a solar flare ?
It must be substantial if it can spike voltages in our power grids.
Can anyone convert it into an everyday measurement ?

eyesonu

I’m in cental east coast US. Clear sky but full moon. If effects are visable here does it matter which direction I should look? Is the effect sudden or does it continously build in intensity?
This is real time cosmic stuff here. LOL

kbray in california says on March 7, 2012 at 9:49 pm
Is there a way to quantify the energy represented by such a solar flare ?
It must be substantial if it can spike voltages in our power grids.
Can anyone convert it into an everyday measurement ?

The effect is really only seen on the more northerly Transmission Lines (NOT ‘grids’ really as the public fashionably likes to sling it these days) and on the longer runs of Transmission lines; the damage is the DC caused by the changing Geomagnetic field which induces GICs (Geomagnetic Induced Current) into the lines, causing magnetic flux changes in the transformers which may then ‘saturate’ on 1/2 of the cycle of the applied AC voltage, and the transformers have a specific BH curve (flux density- field intensity) that should not be exceeded, adding DC current to the AC already there causes the problem … when in saturation, the current level in the transformer can soar, no longer inhibited by counter a EMF which would be present were the transformer not in a magnetically saturated condition due to the added GIC.
.

kbray in california says:
March 7, 2012 at 9:49 pm
Is there a way to quantify the energy represented by such a solar flare ?
It must be substantial if it can spike voltages in our power grids.
Can anyone convert it into an everyday measurement ?

Flares are one thing [and their energy can be measured and is known], but what concerns effects on the Earth, the important piece is the solar wind hitting us. The appendix [pages 31ff] of http://www.leif.org/research/Geomagnetic-Response-to-Solar-Wind.pdf has a calculation of the energy flux impinging on the Earth during a magnetic substorm [and a geomagnetic storm is just a sequence of several of those]. The result is 3 Terawatt.

kbray in california

_Jim says:
March 7, 2012 at 10:05 pm
Wiki gave me this:
A solar flare is a sudden brightening observed over the Sun surface or the solar limb, which is interpreted as a large energy release of up to 6 × 10^25 joules of energy[1].
On my napkin, I did a quick conversion and I got 16.7 million x 1 billion KW hours.
That could power a few homes…

GeoLurking

Ref: _Jim (above).
This is also similar to the mechanism of some of EMP, though the energy levels are smaller and much more localized.

GeoLurking

Grrr….. meaning the EMP effects are on a much smaller scale. (could be read the other way, which is not what I meant)

DJ

Does the sudden increase in proton flux translate into corresponding atmospheric chemical changes…ie sulphur dioxide, methane hydroxyls, etc.,,, and a change in clouds that could be connected? (perhaps not unlike the GCR theory)
It would seem to me that the electrical concerns are only a part of the equation, and the climate or at least short term weather is influenced in some way.

[snip – sorry – wayyyy off topic, electric motors – Anthony]

kbray in california

I calculated it to be enough electricity to power every household in the USA for 6 years.
One rogue flare can do that…
I hope the sun stays “happy” for a long time.
If the earth is warming or cooling, the first suspect to look at has to be “El Sol”.
It’s the obvious.

southern auroras are spectacular when viewed from the adelaide hills, south australia.
during 1981, we saw one so bright that we thought it was a dreaded bushfire burning over the hill. we drove to the top of the hill, only to find that it seemed to be burning over the next hill ! we watched it for quite a while. it seemed to cover the whole sky, and reminded me of the massive curtains being pulled accross at the movies.

mike about town

any news?

Although Dr. S. doesn’t favour it, the Tromso magnetogram has clearest indication of the magnetic field disturbances
http://flux.phys.uit.no/cgi-bin/plotgeodata.cgi?Last24&site=tro2a&

Lisa C

Just had a pretty decent power surge here in Honolulu around 2130 HST. Power is still ON.

MAVukcevic says:
March 7, 2012 at 11:31 pm
Although Dr. S. doesn’t favour it, the Tromso magnetogram has clearest indication of the magnetic field disturbances
Tromsoe is in the auroral zone and shows mainly local disturbances, not representative for geomagnetic storms, and thus prone to over-interpretations. This is particularly evident now since the CME hasn’t hit yet. Use Kakioka or Boulder or Guam, but not Tromsoe. This is not about favoring, but about doing things right. I have mentioned this several times and you still haven’t learned.

BTW, the energetic protons have already arrived. They travel a lot faster than the solar wind CME protons, and arrives in minutes or hours, rather than hours and days.

Apparently there some still ‘known unknowns’ about aurora
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/Aurora.htm

Kelvin Vaughan

In the 1960s I used to work in the international telegraph centre in London. On one floor of the building were the teleptinters working over HF radio circuits. There were thousands of teleprinters chattering out their messages from all over the world. The noise was deafening.
As a solar storm hit the ionosphere the radio circuits would drop out one by one depending on the frequency being used. Slowly the room would get quieter and quieter as the teleprinters ceased to function until there was an eerie silence in the room. After some minutes a teleprinter would start to chatter away again, then one by one they would all start working and the room would build up to the full deafening noise again.

I am following this on my simple webpage where I have assembled several on-line graphs, etc. This is intended only for myself and a few friends interested in aurora photography. (Small webserver on a Synology DS210j).
http://www.agust.net/aurora

John Marshall

1050UT in UK and, fingers crossed, things seem to be normal.

Ian

I grew up in Nova Scotia, way way way out in the country , before we had street lights, and I mean pitch black at night , this was the norm when the moon was not out…and I remember vividly the northern lights ….it was so often, it was a sight to see..it was normal for us to see them, but it was so often, if wasn’t a thing we waited to see…it was just there…. I once heard a saying that goes like this ” If the stars only came out once every 10 years, no one would miss it. ” …much as with solar eclipses, people fly all over the world to see it in person. Enjoy the show folks..
Ian

Well, I’m glad I didn’t stay up too late. We had clouds, anyway.

mark wagner

@Ldd: Thanks! So if it’s a good storm, I could fly into Ontario, take a car north and just wait until dark. Maybe.

So, the solar wind magnetic field was northwards, therefore no strong magnetic storm. There was a strong compression of the magnetosphere, called the ‘initial phase’ when the CME hit: http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/rt_plots/bou_12h.html but the ‘main phase’ that should occur a few hours later is basically missing.

kbray in california says on March 7, 2012 at 10:14 pm

Wiki gave me this:
A solar flare is a sudden brightening observed over the Sun surface or the solar limb, which is interpreted as a large energy release of up to 6 × 10^25 joules of energy[1].
On my napkin, I did a quick conversion and I got 16.7 million x 1 billion KW hours.
That could power a few homes…

Is that the total energy involved with a flare? (Considering variable parameters e.g. size, duration of event, magnitude, etc)
Then one must work out the ‘propagation’ of that energy involving the inverse square law to determine the amount of ‘energy’ impinging on the earth (after considering conversion effects from the local event into the CME charged particle motion energy), and more specifically, the amount of ‘energy’ (in the form of a mag field) intercepted by a length of ‘wire’ comprising a HV Transmission line.
.

Mike:
“I either read somewhere or had a hallucination that during these kinds of events, residents of orbiting space craft actually see flashes of light in their closed eyes as the hydrogen nuclei scintillate inside of the eyeball.”
Actually, the shell of the spaceship is pretty good shielding from the high energy protons. BUT, not against normal COSMIC rays. THEY can cause the flashes, at about any time..all the time. Typical exposure is about 10 to 100 mR per day, indicating that long term (2 to 3 year) stays will need more shielding for radiation health physics reasons! (Mars mission?)
I can’t imagine being violated by high energy protons, can’t be good for you DNA either.

GeoLurking says on March 7, 2012 at 10:32 pm
Ref: _Jim (above).
This is also similar to the mechanism of some of EMP, though the energy levels are smaller and much more localized.

The high-frequency spectral energy content (rate of change) is much higher with an EMP event whereas the GICs (Geomagnetic Induced Currents) indicate to be low-frequency, changing or varying over time periods of seconds to tens of seconds. The rate of change is important, as well as the amplitude of the magnetic amplitude change, induced voltage being proportional to effective Inductance times the rate of current change (v = L * di/dt).
A couple of relevant papers applicable to these subjects:
Mario Rabinowitz/Electric Power Research Institute:
Effect of the FAST NUCLEAR ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE
on the Electric Power Grid Nationwide: A Different View

ORNL paper: Electric Utility Experience Industry with Geomagnetic Disturbances
.

solarlux

[blockquote]So, the solar wind magnetic field was northwards, therefore no strong magnetic storm.[/blockquote]
So in general, is it difficult to predict the polarity ahead of the CME arrival at ACE?
Although I’m guessing one should be right at least half of the time…

solarlux says:
March 8, 2012 at 8:37 am
So in general, is it difficult to predict the polarity ahead of the CME arrival at ACE?
Yes, indeed it is. My estimated based on the photospheric field was clearly wrong. Of course, one should base the prediction on the coronal field rather than on the underlying photospheric field. This is the holy grail of this business, and progress is being made in calculating the coronal field. No doubt, this event will be studied closely.

Mike McMillan

kbray in california says:March 7, 2012 at 10:50 pm
I calculated it to be enough electricity to power every household in the USA for 6 years.
One rogue flare can do that…

Wind turbines in space?

Forbush decrease (about 10%, still falling) in progress
http://neutronm.bartol.udel.edu/~pyle/TheThPlot.gif
http://neutronm.bartol.udel.edu/~pyle/thespnplot.png
is a rapid decrease in the observed galactic cosmic ray intensity following a coronal mass ejection (CME). It occurs due to the magnetic field of the plasma solar wind sweeping some of the galactic cosmic rays away from Earth (ref. wiki)
Good test for the Svensmark hypothesis, if decrease lasts day or two. Take note of the current cloudiness forecast for next two days, then compare with the actual events.

Jim G

Nothing like the national news to keep up with science. Fox news reported the CME on its way at 4 million miles per second. I thought the speed of light was 186,000 miles per second? Guess it has changed or this stuff has gone superluminal. Einstein will be upset over this.

So no light show?

solarlux

> So no light show?
Doesn’t look too impressive:
http://www.solarham.com/oval.htm

Peter Pan

Jim G says:
March 8, 2012 at 10:03 am
at 4 million miles per second. I thought the speed of light was 186,000 miles per second?
==============
4 million/3600=1100.miles per second, ~2000km/s.

Sparks

Don’t forget about lunar positioning and the orbital positions of the inner planets, What effect can the moon have on incoming CME particles? if the moon was positioned between the Earth and the sun could it deflect or absorb the CME particles in some way to reduce the overall effects of the incoming solar storm on Earth? maybe a kind of geomagnetic solar eclipse??
It’ll be interesting to check where the Moon and planets were after each solar storm passes during this solar maximum and note their intensity,