With solar storm in progress, regional impact forecasts set to begin

According to NASA’s Spaceweather.com, a G1-class geomagnetic storm is ringing Earth’s poles on Sept. 29th as a high-speed (600+ km/s) stream of solar wind continues to buffet our planet’s magnetic field. While this particular storm isn’t expected to do more than produce spectacular Auroras and perhaps cause some minor power grid fluctuations, knowing what impacts a stronger solar storm could have is very beneficial to society. A new solar impact model that NOAA will implement on Saturday should help determine what areas of Earth would be most affected.

From the University of Michigan and Rice University

Solar storms: Regional forecasts set to begin

ANN ARBOR—For the first time beginning next month, forecasts of the regional effects of solar storms will help protect the power grid and communications satellites, thanks to a new tool developed by researchers at the University of Michigan and Rice University.

Solar storms are torrents of charged particles and electromagnetic fields from the sun that rattle the planet’s magnetic field. Major disturbances can send harmful current into power lines, hampering operations and putting expensive transformers at risk. They can also damage satellites.

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Today, scientists know when a storm is headed toward us, but it’s impossible to predict where on Earth it will hit hardest. So utility companies and satellite operators can’t always limit damage to their systems by shutting off key components.

That will change Oct. 1, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center begins using a new geospace forecast model that can give unique data for each 350-square-mile plot of Earth, and up to 45 minutes before a solar storm hits.

“This is the first time that utility companies will have a regional forecast of space weather effects with any lead time,” said Dan Welling, assistant research scientist in the U-M Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering and one of the model’s developers. “Compared to atmospheric weather forecasting, this sounds like a trivial step, but in terms of space weather, it’s a giant leap.”

Humans haven’t experienced a catastrophic solar storm since putting up the grid and launching satellites. The “Carrington event” in September 1859 caused significant disruption, but only telegraph wires were around. They continued banging out and receiving messages even after their power supplies were disconnected, and some even set the paper on fire.

If a similar event happened today, “it would really be a disaster much worse than a major hurricane,” said Gabor Toth, research professor in the U-M Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering and one of the model’s developers.

Power outages could last months or more because it could take that long to replace any damaged electrical transformers. That’s a long time in societies that depend on electricity for essentials like food, heat, water and communication.

“The Geospace model will help us provide better information to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, and through them, to the grid operators whose decisions affect over 334 million people in the U.S. and Canada,” said Howard Singer, chief scientist at the Space Weather Prediction Center. “Our forecasts will be used to provide, for the first time, the actionable regional information needed to reduce the risk from extreme space weather.”

Unlike most present-day models, the new one is not based on statistics.

“This is the first high-performance physics-based geospace model that can run faster than real time,” said Tamas Gombosi, the Konstantin I. Gringauz Distinguished University Professor of Space Science and the Rollin M. Gerstacker Professor of Engineering at U-M.

It pulls together three components that researchers worked for a quarter century to develop and meld: a “magnetohydrodynamic” model that simulates effects on the Earth from electric and magnetic fields, an ionosphere model that represents aspects of the top layer of the Earth’s atmosphere, and a “ring current” model that gives insights into a region of hot particles that encircles the planet. Scientists at U-M developed the first two and at Rice, the ring current model.

“The ring current, located in the inner magnetosphere, is connected to both the ionosphere and the outer magnetosphere and its inclusion was crucial to making realistic predictions with the model,” said Stanislav Sazykin, associate research professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Rice. “We were able to construct a coupled model that is robust and stable.”

Scientists have estimated an up to 12 percent chance that Earth could be hit with an extreme solar storm in the next decade. In 2012, a Carrington-scale ejection crossed Earth’s orbit and missed us by a week. Since that time, important measures have been taken. In June 2014, the Federal Electric Regulatory Commission began requiring utilities to prepare for solar storms. And in 2015, the White House released a Space Weather Action Plan.

Extreme space weather can happen at any time, but historically the strongest storms tend to hit during the declining phase of the sun’s 22-year activity cycle.

“The largest storms occur after solar maximum, so we are in the most dangerous period right now,” Gombosi said.

Good timing for the new model.

 

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85 thoughts on “With solar storm in progress, regional impact forecasts set to begin

    • The magnetic field of the earth is weakening, solar output has declined over three decades, with declining solar wind and decreased terrestrial shielding. The change in the position of the earth’s magnetic poles has caused deformation of the earth’s crust that has created sinkholes, caused earthquakes and volcano eruptions. The migration of magnetic poles that’s led to magnetic reversals that caused extinction events in the past is occurring at a higher rate than in the past. http://www.suspicious0bservers.org/
      A great science site that produced the video on icenow, up 50,000 subscribers in the last 6 months. NASA, ESA, NOAA data. Ben has written a high-accuracy earthquake prediction algorithm based on solar-earth electromagetic coupling, based on NASA solar data. He’s launched a challenge to USGS to refute his published research and been ignored.

  1. And like hurricane predictions, it’ll only take a few warnings of major events that turn out to be damp squibs and everyone will start to ignore them.

    • Given the real measured potential for black swan events, this is what NOAA/NASA should actually be working on in regards to the earth. Not silly C02 scares. This type of thing should be given at least half of the current “climate change” funding (the other half should be used to help balance the budget)

  2. Can someone tell us what measures are taken with modern overhead lines to protect against voltage spikes that could occur from solar storms, EMP, lightning, etc? Hopefully we are better prepared now than fifty or a hundred years ago.

    Or do we still cross our fingers and hope the black swan never appears?

    • You should know that the “voltage spikes” from solar storms are distinctly different in nature than those from EMP and lightning. Some protective measures are the same for all, some are different. Why utilities don’t seem to care about protecting their equipment from rare but potentially crippling events can be found in the way that state and the federal government regulate them. While I don’t think the damage will be as bad as alarmists would have us believe, I am still disappointed at the lack of appetite on the part of utilities to even try to protect their equipment.

      Perhaps some person within the industry can share their thoughts on this matter

      • So tell us: Just what is the difference between voltage spikes from solar storms and EMP and lightning. Lightning can be many kV / m. I think dry air can stand maybe 3MV / m fields.

        Transistor radios can pick up EM fields in the microvolt per meter range quite readily. imagine what you transistor radio would do with a field a million times higher than a radio signal. How about one a billion times bigger. Have you ever heard any of those signals on your transistor radio ??

        G

      • Well for one most utilities are price regulated to 10% profit, so if expenses go up, so does the Gross profits i.e. an extra $90 in expenses means an extra $10 in profits! They might get push-back on a planned expense like a new power plant but unlikely on an act of God event such as a Carrington event.

      • A lightning strike is localized and very brief. A Carrington type event is global and can last for hours or even days. A surge protector that can absorb a quick spike safely may burn out under extended load of lesser intensity.

    • What is the energy of a 60 Hz photon ??

      The wavelength of 60 Hz EM waves is 5,000 km or 5 Mm if you like.

      Power transmission lines are usually three wire or six wire twisted cables with HUNDREDS of twists per wavelength at 60 Hz.

      So as an antenna, even a cross country line, will be broken up into several to many short sub wavelength sections that are twisted more tightly than you can twist 22 gauge hookup wire.

      Has it dawned on any of your electronic wizards out there, that transmission line systems are protected against megavolt level voltage transients. Even the input terminal to one of the “Intel Inside” logic inputs on your finger toy microprocessor, is immune to at least a couple of KV spikes.

      So power transmission line systems are not destroyed by hundreds of KV voltage spikes. So what did you say was the EM field strength of solar flare EM waves (in microvolt per meter at the earth orbital radius) is.

      It takes multi-amp CURRENT surges to blow up power line transformers, and you aren’t going to induce multi-amp currents in a twisted cable that is twisted hundreds of times per wavelength. (hint: think about just a single pair of wires in a closed loop electrical circuit, with the current going in opposite directions in the two wires, that are for all intents and purposes in EXACTLY the same location as far as a 5,000 km wavelength EM wave is concerned. The fields around that wire pair cancel each other, so virtually NO EM radiation can be propagated by such a pair. Conversely an incoming wave will induce EXACTLY the same current in each wire of the pair, at any point along the pair, and those identical currents are travelling in opposite opposing directions, so they cancel out. That’s the entire purpose of twisting wires in a cable )

      Buy yourself a copy of the Ham Antenna Handbook and learn something about antenna theory.

      G

      • That’s not how it works, it’s that the multi-megawatt transformers are being driven into half-cycle saturation by the external magnetic fields. Visualize your antenna with diodes that shunt half the cycle into ground (0 ohms impedance) and the other half is open (infinite ohms impedance) and the poor 50 ohm transformer in your linear trying to cope. Geomagnetically induced_current GIC in power grids explains the problem much more eloquently that I can.

      • Visualize your antenna with diodes that shunt half the cycle into ground (0 ohms impedance) and the other half is open (infinite ohms impedance) and the poor 50 ohm transformer in your linear trying to cope.

        Funny you should describe it this way. I had to analyze the load margin on a microwave receiver input circuit that had to tolerate over 1,000Vp-p signals, while having high sensitivity. And we did it with pin diodes creating impedance discontinuity in the stripline creating a signal reflection which was routed into a load. Something like this (it was 35 years ago)

        George, again it has been a while but I had my FCC 2nd class commercial license in 1976, at 17.

      • Lovely picture Christopher.

        I can see all the way from California to Chicago in that picture.

        Why don’t you go out to that transmission line and walk along it for 5,000 km and count the number of twists as you go.

        Then come back and tell us how many twists you counted.

        Californians who drive highway 5 or 99 routinely, can while away the trip boredom by observing the 12kV transmission lines running for some distance along those roads, and note every time they come to a totally different power pole layout, where those three wires will get rotated one third of a turn, usually in a distance of 1-2 miles, so they complete one twist in about 5 miles.
        The 12 kV systems manage to pull this switcheroo by the simple artifice of reversing just one of the three wire supporting brackets on just a single pole, which allows them to drop one wire down, while moving the one below to the side, so that the one third twist is accomplished in the spacing of just three poles in a row, with the central one being the odd one.

        For the multi hundred kV lines in your picture, the transfer is more elaborate, but well researched for eons.

        Why do they do it ?? No not to prevent space aliens from getting tangled in the wires in their X-fighters.

        Transcontinental transmission lines can be a significant fraction of a wavelength at the power line frequency (anything over 1/10th wavelength is significant), so a 500 km stretch is a tenth of a wavelength at 60 Hz.
        Loran -C wavelength is 3,000 meters. Loran-C receiving antennas are often 8ft long, or less than 0.001 wavelength.
        A 1250 km long “long wire” antenna is a quarter wave antenna at 60 Hertz, and will radiate quite efficiently at 60 Hertz, if you don’t twist it up with wires going the other way (currents).

        The power company calls it “Energy Loss”. Somebody has to pay for it if they let it happen.

        I actually used to read the Brown-Boveri Research Journal every month when I was 14 years old in high school.

        If you don’t know anything about what you are talking about, Christopher, it is best to not talk about it.

        G

      • People who build transformers for AC power conversion are quite concerned about efficiency. Inefficiency means power loss. Power loss means energy dissipation as “heat” (noun) which causes “heating” (verb) as in Temperature rise, that results in slow degradation of materials and eventual failure. Plus the power loss is energy they don’t get paid for by any customer who never got to use it. With power transformers it can occur by way of “leakage inductance” which is simply magnetic fields that get loose and escape from both the copper wires, and also from the iron cores from which transformers are made.

        So they design their transformers to keep that magnetic field as corralled as is practical.

        Well if it can leak out, it can also leak in, except the leak in, works in reverse.

        If a megawatt transformer leaks 10 kW to leakage inductance which escapes out into the rest of the universe instead of staying in the transformer, then a one megawatt splatch from some interstellar space ship’s Warp drive afterburner, at the same frequency will induce a 10 kW squeak in that transformer’s innards, and since it was only designed to handle power up to the megawatt range, that 10 kW glitch will cause the transformer to feel an itch which it will want to scratch at.

        Power system components which are built to minimize the losses from zigawatts of transactions, are inherently immune to penetration from any pestilence that is not orders of magnitude higher than what they are designed to handle.

        I think I did say somewhere once that I actually have a degree in Radio-Physics. Well that was over a half century ago, and I imagine that over the years things have changed a bit. I notice that Maxwell’s equations are still at the top of the Physics heap.

        Munought and epsilonnought still are the crown jewels of Physics.

        G

      • “””””…… bugenator

        September 29, 2016 at 1:07 pm …..”””””

        Well bugenator, if YOU can’t explain it, how do YOU know that your cited wiki source can explain it at all, let alone eloquently ??

        Did you find any actual calculations in your eloquent source that calculated either the induced voltage or current from any geomagnetic source of any stated field strength, in any representative power transmission circuit component or element of one such component.

        A lot of vacant hand waving.

        Don’t equate a control system shut down by the control system itself with a damage caused by the energy of some supposed extra-terrestrial event.

        Time was when chemical plants handling thousands of gallons of hazardous materials with pneumatic or hydraulic feedback control systems, were designed to shut down gracefully usually by the power just shutting off and the controller passively retreating by a safe path to a non-hazardous condition.

        So now we have gee whizz direct computer control of such things and decisions can be made at multi-gigahertz clock frequencies.

        Unfortunately human beings; the same species that gave us Microsoft Windows, program those computer systems. They also program the traffic light systems.

        And old saw reads: “If you build it, they will come”.

        Probably first said by the chap who designed the Sphynx.

        Traffic lights are controlled according to a closely related algorithm.

        ” If you turn it ON, they will come. ”

        Which means simply that if you turn a traffic light on to GREEN, eventually some traffic will come in that direction to go through the intersection safely.

        In the meantime, all of the dozens of cars that you have stopped at all of the lights that are showing red, will be safe from any mishap.

        When programmers program a railway line control system and tell it to allow two trains to operate in opposite directions on the same track at the same time, it is reasonable to assume that eventually both trains will be on exactly the same piece of steel rail, and somewhere near that time they will collide with each other.

        It wasn’t the railway line or the trains, that caused a collision. it was the control system. The same thing that shuts down power grids.

        If these geo-magnetic storms are dealing in such magnificent energy quantities, we should build systems to tap into them as a renewable energy source.

        There have been far too many star trek movies and TV fiction shows. People can’t even tell what is real any more.

        G

      • Common mode vs. differential mode. The good audio and radio electronics people already know where I’m going. A good transmission line resists picking up the differential mode favored for efficient power transmission. But it has zero resistance to picking up common mode, feeding an in phase voltage along the parallel conductors to the transformer (or whatever else) at the end. This won’t induce current in the winding connected to the line, but may exceed the voltage limit of the insulation separating the winding from the core or another winding.

    • It is more like overcurrent event than overvoltage event

      Also it is DC current and it will damage transformers without tripping protection relays

      Kinda scary.

      • Best comment on the problem so far.

        Basic issue is that the time varying magnetic fields set up by the currents flowing in the magnetosphere induce very low frequency voltages in the loop formed by the transmission lines (which are typically grounded at each end) and the earth below. “Skin Depth” of the earth at these frequencies can be miles, so the effective loop are can be hundreds of square miles (close to 10E9 square meters). DC resistance of the loop is on the order of a few ohms, so a B-field variation of a few milligauss per second could set up currents of hundreds of amps. The next thing that happens is the cores in the transformers saturate, greatly lowering the inductance of the transformer and triggering an overcurrent condition.

        Note that Canada has a couple of things that makes them more susceptible to power line problems for geomagnetic storms. First is being close to the geomagnetic pole. The second is that the rock underlying Ontario is very old and thus has relatively high resistance allowing for the much deeper return current paths (larger loops).

        One possible work-around is to use series capacitors on the long distance transmission lines – these are often used to improve power handling capability of the line.

      • Thank you Erik.
        I don’t work in the field of generation and transmission of el. Energy anymore, which was the subject I originally got my master degree in, but I still remember some basics for the university times,

  3. This event is not as big a threat as Climate Change, which is the biggest threat to mankind.
    That’s what my President said.

  4. So, the main source of energy for our planet has solar storms which affect our planet and I would suggest the thing in the sky, that nearest star to us, is key to all the sudden changes in climate on earth aside from the occasional major volcanic eruption or even rarer but more dangerous massive asteroid hits.

  5. Major solar storms with some infrastructure consequence are not something that happens frequently; for the general public could be of interest when flying polar route.

    the last three/four major storms passed with little or no harm.
    July 14, 2000 Bastille Day event
    October 28/29, Halloween & November 4, 2003 solar storms
    July 23, 2012 solar storm
    Google any of the above to find out more.

    • Thomas Englert September 29, 2016 at 8:44 am
      Hi Thomas the quote from article below is food dor thought.

      “Scientists have estimated an up to 12 percent chance”

      Note the words “up to”. Myself I think that is the high ball guesstimate. I think they are trying to drum up support for action (funding) to address the threat. Since CO2 make bigger food and pretty flowers but Geomagnetic Storms fry satellites and transformers I know where I want our taxes spent on- the pretty flowers give me allergies,

      michael

  6. “The ring current, located in the inner magnetosphere, is connected to both the ionosphere and the outer magnetosphere and its inclusion was crucial to making realistic predictions with the model,” said Stanislav Sazykin, associate research professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Rice. “We were able to construct a coupled model that is robust and stable.”

    While I appreciate the effort to build such a model that gives comprehensible results, and then get it to run in real time is a great accomplishment.
    But isn’t including the ring current in the model an obvious first step to get something that even resembles our magnetosphere? Magnetic fields have moving electrons someplace, and if it a real current, then it’s critical for a model of a magnetic ring.

  7. “Humans haven’t experienced a catastrophic solar storm since putting up the grid and launching satellites. The “Carrington event” in September 1859 caused significant disruption, but only telegraph wires were around. They continued banging out and receiving messages even after their power supplies were disconnected, and some even set the paper on fire.”

    Telegraphic machines were (relative) low power devices attached to very long wires (it was needed a tiny current as low as 0.05 Amps to drive the coils which burnt the papers in the 1859 event). The current grid should be better in voiding the solar storm effects because of the highest power of the devices attached to the ends of the long path wires (usually high energy transformers).
    The satellites instead are small sized devices, usually already thought to resist solar wind because shielded into Faraday’s cages, so they could be safe anyways.

    I would worry about solar farms instead, where wide areas of silicon sensitive panels are exposed to the solar storm. Will they resist?

    Have a great day.

    Massimo

    • I would worry about solar farms instead, where wide areas of silicon sensitive panels are exposed to the solar storm. Will they resist?

      For a while it was part of my job to review electronic components requirements and find appropriately hard replacement components for a space program.
      Basically the main problem from a solar magnetic storm for a solar field will be all of the wires. Now this can include the wires on the silicon itself, and a lot will depend on what the wavelength the energy comes in at. The wires can basically open circuit in a variety of sometimes colorful ways, or short which is also usually colorful. You could get large voltage spikes, which usually if it causes a problem with a diode, it creates a short across the junction or evaporates conductors.
      The radiation should be modest at worst at the surface, if there were a lot of hard particles you might create other shorts across the diode junction, which will impact that specific diode some, reducing that cells output, but likely modestly at worst. These are usually due to crystal bonds that break altering the structure, and if this happens across the junction it causes leakage.

      • You are correct. The current collection grid built into every single solar cell forms an antenna. The PV cell itself is a giant diode with a very low Vr (reverse voltage limit). Any voltage induced in the collection grid has faster and easier access to the PV cell junction than to the junction of any nearby protection diode. In short, PV cells are very vulnerable to instant and total destruction by a sufficiently strong pulse, like one from a nuclear EMP attack.

        Think about that the next time you are tempted to buy a PV panel for power in a post-EMP world.

      • In short, PV cells are very vulnerable to instant and total destruction by a sufficiently strong pulse, like one from a nuclear EMP attack.

        A nuke would likely fry a lot of them, I might think it’d matter which way they are pointed, but I can’t tell you which way they should be even if it did.
        But, IMO this would have to be a very large event for those types of effects to be a general effect.

      • So Buck, just how low or how big is the reverse breakdown voltage of a modern single crystal silicon photo-diode. A good one like a Sunpower systems solar panel.

        They are not used in reverse direction anyway; they are always forward biased in operation and within a stone’s throw of 500 mV for a silicon diode.

        With all of the acres of silicon photodiode junctions lying around all over the world, you would think that you could never complete the installation before some solar emp would come and blow it up.

        Most cosmic ray charged particles don’t even make it past the upper atmosphere before being captured. Solar neutrinos can go all the way through the earth and out the other side, and never ever hit anything; probably they don’t even know the earth was there in their way.

        Fast neutrons might go all the way through you and not hit anything.

        I just looked at the specs sheet for a high efficiency silicon photo-diode that I have on my computer (the spec sheet; not the diode) and the reverse voltage limit spec is 60 volts. That is the allowable value under any conditions; not the breakdown voltage.

        If earth surface radiation gremlins from anywhere and everywhere in the rest of the universe were any real threat to earth, there would simply be no surviving electronics anywhere on this planet.

        Maybe that would be good if it targeted just the finger toys that cause people to go to sleep at traffic lights requiring a three car gap so they don’t rear end the guy in front, while they are texting.

        G

      • George e. Smith asks “So Buck, just how low or how big is the reverse breakdown voltage of a modern single crystal silicon photo-diode. A good one like a Sunpower systems solar panel.”

        An EMP can induce thousands of volts (30kv/m) with < 10 ns rise time. But notice that I also mentioned time. The PV current collection grid (EMP antenna) is immediately on top of the PV surface and so has almost no impedance while any protection diode is mounted some distance (and time), a "stone's throw" away. The damage is done before the pulse can be clamped by any nearby protection diode. The Vr of a PV solar sell has got to be very low as the higher the Vr, the thicker the junction layer is. Once the PN junction is pierced anywhere along its vast surface, it is toast.

      • So I ask Buck a simple question about his very low solar cell breakdown Voltage, and he gives me some hand waving about EMPs that he says can generate 30 KV /m. and nothing at all about solar panel breakdown voltage.
        Well buck, 30KV/m is exactly 30 volts per mm which is the thickness of a typical solar cell wafer.

        And your grid contact which you say is the pickup antenna, happens to be electrically connected at a quite low sheet resistance to the entire area of the p-side of the solar cell diode, so the whole area is clamped at less than one volt in the positive direction and might give negative 30 Volts on a diode that is good for at least 60 volts in reverse.

        And those EMP fields that you mention would be for air or vacuum media. The sheet resistivity of the n side of the diode is way higher in conductance, and the p side is higher still.

        You need to go back to wiki and find some more crutches buck or better still why not take a course in device physics, so you can actually learn something about modern semi-conductor device technology.

        The trouble with trolls is that they google for some catch word such as “transpose” which is not twisting according to Christopher. It’s for interphase capacitance balance he says. Hello ! Earth to Christopher; your capacitance balancing transpose likewise creates an interphase inductance balance.
        Come to think of it, I believe I already said that is why they do it. The transposition twisting balances both E and H fields which is why it makes a lousy antenna, which is what they want. And yes, a poor transmitting antenna is also a poor receiving antenna for the frequency range it is designed for, which is usually the range that the hardware is deigned to function at.

        Solar storm or EMP risk to megawatt power transmission components is complete rubbish.

        Ordinary computer systems with cheap power supplies and shielding may be somewhat vulnerable to damage by lightning or transients but even the cheapest computer or other semi-conductor chips have static discharge protection in the several KV range I’ve designed a few semi-conductor chips both analog and digital and even optical; bet every single pin giving external access to the inner circuit at least in silicon devices has a “pad protection” circuit built right in usually good for the order of 2.5 KV applied directly to the pin as a static discharge. And I’ve even designed the pad protection circuit (on the silicon) necessary to do that . Pad design is a special semi device design technology.

        So believe what you will buck. I’m not in the evangelism business. I never try to change anybody’s mind. Specially one with access to wiki where they can really learn something. Well they can read it, but that isn’t the same as learning it. Often it isn’t apparent what one is learning.

        G

  8. Unlike hurricanes, the preparations and hardening actions needed for resilience lies with grid operators, satellite operators, power plant utilities. Those can be given orders & directions by governments. The actions that an individual can undertake are negligible.

    • The actions that an individual can undertake are negligible.

      Not true, you can trip your main circuit breakers, and unplug any sensitivity or unprotected equipment from the outlets.

    • “The actions that an individual can undertake are negligible.”

      Well, I would be relying on my trusty generator to see me through the worst of it – depending on how long the outage lasts. But that also depends on whether petrol (gasoline in the US, I guess) is still available at the pumps and then again whether distribution will also have been hit.

      • if it’s anything like Northeast blackout of 2003 then the answer is mostly no. I had seen a lot of people and businesses in the areas affected installing natural gas powered backup generators. These geo-magnetic storms effect the big sub-station and power station scale transformers (100 MVA and above) the most. we can replace them but it takes from 2 to 5 years to build as they are basically custom built.

      • What is your reason for thinking that your trusty generator will survive the “event”? I’m particularly thinking of the diodes in the field windings, connected up to those nice copper antennas.

      • Tom Johnson: I don’t know about his, but my generator is disconnected from the grid with a several meter gap (not just an open breaker), and it’s sitting inside a metal building.

      • and it’s sitting inside a metal building

        So, you need to make sure all of the panels (including the roof panels) are electrically tied together, and the building has a good copper ground rod in the ground, I just looked, min length of a ground rod is 8 ft, but it’s sphere of influence is 2x that, so 16 ft deep for an 8′ rod, if your building is bigger, want a longer rod.
        I think you want something that will include all of your building in it’s “sphere” because you don’t (I presume) have a metal floor to complete the electrically/magnetically shielded box.

        Now they use copper for real sealed screen rooms because it has lower resistance than steel, so steel won’t protect as well, but it should be much better than without, if it’s all sealed up (they even tie all the edges together).

        You have to decide how much effort you want to invest for the level of protection that will provide.

      • Well I believe your trusty generator is more likely an even more trusty alternator, since you really would like to plug your 120 volt AC devices into it.

        In that case, you will be dead and buried, long before you or Tom Johnson, find those diodes he says are in the field windings.

        But Luc, in your automobile, which I suppose also runs on petrol (or benzine), you also have an alternator, which also doesn’t have any diodes in its field windings, but it does have a six diode (18 Amp diodes) three phase bridge rectifier on the output, so you can get about 14 volts DC to charge your car battery (which also doesn’t contain any diodes.

        The trolls giggle some word they have heard, and suddenly they are experts on something they don’t know enough about to know how little they know.

        I notice that trolls seldom give credit to the sources of what non relevant information they turn up from the web. They would have us believe it is all their own work.

        G

  9. Hopefully this physics-based geospace model will
    explain exactly how strong solar activity and solar
    winds effect our magnetic field. Also the effects of
    solar activity on the polar vortex and the outflow of
    heat at the poles.

    An ice age is a time when the earth cannot retain
    its heat and this loss occurs at the poles. It appears
    that during an inter-glacial, strong solar activity is
    closing off the outflow at the poles allowing the earth
    to warm. Perhaps NOAA will finally be able to answer
    some of these questions?

    Please visit weathercycles.wordpress
    “Fibonacci and the climate”
    “The sun’s acceleration and ice ages”

  10. Oh my!

    Another heralding announcement about developing a new model along with wonderful words regarding how wonderful it will be…

    More models.
    More predictions.
    Where are the verification runs? How well did the models perform. How many observation updates are required before the model achieves ‘regional’ accuracy?

    “Today, scientists know when a storm is headed toward us, but it’s impossible to predict where on Earth it will hit hardest. So utility companies and satellite operators can’t always limit damage to their systems by shutting off key components.

    That will change Oct. 1, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center begins using a new geospace forecast model that can give unique data for each 350-square-mile plot of Earth, and up to 45 minutes before a solar storm hits.

    “This is the first time that utility companies will have a regional forecast of space weather effects with any lead time,” said Dan Welling, assistant research scientist in the U-M Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering and one of the model’s developers.

    “…said Howard Singer, chief scientist at the Space Weather Prediction Center. “Our forecasts will be used to provide, for the first time, the actionable regional information needed to reduce the risk from extreme space weather.”

    Unlike most present-day models, the new one is not based on statistics.

    “This is the first high-performance physics-based geospace model that can run faster than real time,” said Tamas Gombosi, the Konstantin I. Gringauz Distinguished University Professor of Space Science and the Rollin M. Gerstacker Professor of Engineering at U-M.”

    Fancy that!?
    Why do I not believe them?

    Will they publish confidence factors with their predictions?

    “Extreme space weather can happen at any time, but historically the strongest storms tend to hit during the declining phase of the sun’s 22-year activity cycle.

    “The largest storms occur after solar maximum, so we are in the most dangerous period right now,” Gombosi said.”

    Twenty two years too?
    I presume they meant the solar magnetic cycle. I wonder if they meant the most dangerous outbursts occur on the declining magnetic cycle?
    But how does one decide when to start the cycle? North Magnetic pole positive charge or negative charge?

    • Probably he meant to say something like this:
      ‘Solar coronal mass ejections (CMEs) in the even-numbered solar cycles tend more often (than in the odd numbered cycles) to hit Earth with a leading edge that is magnetized north . Such CMEs open a breach and load the magnetosphere with plasma starting a geomagnetic storm. The even-numbered solar cycles are every 22 years and we are in one right now, the SC24.’

  11. Extreme space weather can happen at any time, but historically the strongest storms tend to hit during the declining phase of the sun’s 22-year activity cycle.

    “The largest storms occur after solar maximum, so we are in the most dangerous period right now,” Gombosi said.

    Decaying part of 11y cycle is fairly obvious. How are they defining “decaying” in terms of the Hale cycle which has both N and S maxima?

    If they have published their model in a reproducible way , it can be compared to the current event. Are those parameters of the model NOW available in a reproducible form ??

    • They say they can warn “up to 45 minutes before a solar storm”. So they can predict the storm from solar activity 45 minutes before the eruption. Not bad if true. We still can’t be sure of predicting an Earth volcano eruption more than a day or two ahead, I think (worst case), and we have only got that good quite recently.
      [note: sun to Earth time is irrelevant becauset it cancels out; observation is from Earth].

  12. I can only imagine what will happen when the “zombies” who are on their devices 23 hours of the day get hit with a service interruption lasting more than a few minutes…

  13. Question: Would that prevent damage to solar panels on – say – a house roof?

    Short segments of wires not connected together are your friend.
    Long wires, loops of wires are all bad.
    So you might be able to unplug stuff, if you have long wires between panels, those are suspect.

    Now they might already have surge protection on them, you’d have to look at the specific spec. There are devices that can protect inputs, but they have to be used and have a high enough joules ratings. You can look at good surge protectors to see what could be used, if the company felt it was worth it, likely grid connect stuff would be protected. But if it’s unplugged and it still fails, there isn’t anything you can do*.

    * you could build a Faraday shield over your home, but…….

    Writing this, made me think that maybe the Earths magnetic gets pushed into the surfaces, the long wires would effectively get plugged into the planets magnetic fields energy (technically it’s be like adding a new loop of wire onto a transformer core, creating a new secondary and extracting energy out), that would explain things nicely.

      • What you need to do is protect the regulator and inverter electonics. ie unplug from the wiring to the root and local network and shut them in grounded metal box. Put your PC and other electronic ‘essentials’ in there too.

  14. This month’s geomagnetic storms have been relatively potent, this one hit G2 level twice overnight. The earth ‘charges up’ from these events. The charge & discharge from these smaller scale ‘Carrington-type’ events happen irregularly throughout each solar cycle from either solar flares or particle events.

    As I record the geomagnetic storms and solar activity simultaneously, I also monitor geophysical reactions, and I can’t wait for you to find out what particle power can do….. to be continued

  15. “The largest storms occur after solar maximum, so we are in the most dangerous period right now,”

    Except that historically, the big one (Carrington) did not occur until after the Dalton minimum was well over. So shouldn’t the chances be less now than they will be 50 years from now after stronger maximums?

  16. “Scientists have estimated an up to 12 percent chance that Earth could be hit with an extreme solar storm in the next decade. In 2012, a Carrington-scale ejection crossed Earth’s orbit and missed us by a week.”

    How many Carrington-scale CMEs missed our planet between 1859 and the deployment of satellites monitoring solar emissions? I bet nobody can tell for sure without another century of observation using the available technology.

  17. CME’s, asteroids, pole reversals hellfire boys (and girls and undecided) this planet is one of the ducks on a track in a shooting gallery. Sooner or later Annie Oakley will belly up to the counter, plunk down her two bits and we’ll be the duck she draws a bead on.

  18. “Power outages could last months or more because it could take that long to replace any damaged electrical transformers.”

    & Bugenator said, “These geo-magnetic storms effect the big sub-station and power station scale transformers (100 MVA and above) the most. we can replace them but it takes from 2 to 5 years to build as they are basically custom built.”

    That explains a lot. Thank you.

  19. In June 2014, the Federal Electric Regulatory Commission began requiring utilities to prepare for solar storms. And in 2015, the White House released a Space Weather Action Plan.

    Let me be the first to guess:

    The environmentalists are now in the process of banning all fire retardants so there won’t be anything to use to replace the transformer oils.

    The eventual mandated replacement will be very expensive, very inefficient, and perhaps genuinely toxic– in other words, sustainable.

  20. Geomagnetic activity influences the growth of the ozone hole in the south. The current storm will increase.

    Please see the year 2015.

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