The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration has been reporting on high solar activity for the past while. Here is the news for the past 3 days, updated today. It is important to note that the September 26th report emphasizes that “aurora watchers in Asia and Europe will be favourably positioned” and we now have had reports of much earthquake and volcanic activity, most notably the swarms in Spain (see El Hierro Volcano Article), Greece and Turkey, as well as the ones around the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, (see Cleveland Volcano Article) as well as the 5.3 MAG that hit the North West Territories (see 4 Significant Quakes/NWT Article). There are many more places that have been affected – all along the Pacific Ring of Fire. Drop in news of earthquake drills and we have a bit of a rocky road perhaps ahead (see Earthquake Drill in US, NZ, BC Article)? (Hey, I’m just saying, but what do I know?)
If you would like to see what an Aurora looks like from space, here is a video take from the International Space Station around September 19th 2011 and its quite spectacular to see. The path taken here is eastwardly from Madagascar along to northeast Australia, hence the term ‘aurora australis’. Aurora borealis north & aurora australis south hemisphere.
REPORTS FROM NOAA – PAST 3 DAYS
2011-09-27 17:33 Update on the September 26/27 Geomagnetic Storm
The Geomagnetic Storm that began yesterday is quieting down, though we aren’t quite back to quiet conditions yet. High speed solar wind is coming in behind the Coronal Mass Ejection and these winds are keeping things slightly active on the space weather front. The region on the Sun that produced this activity is in a favorable position to cause further problems, but it is starting to weaken. It remains a threat, though diminishing. Yesterday, there would have been problems with high accuracy GPS and there was a noted issue with the FAA’s Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS), where the Vertical Error Limit was exceeded. WAAS is used to provide high accuracy GPS in the areas around airports. Much more information about this storm is available on the SWPC Facebook page.
The fast Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) that erupted from NOAA Active Region 1302 arrived this morning at 1237Z (8:37am Eastern Time). It has kicked off moderate (G2) geomagnetic storms for low latitudes, but high latitudes are seeing severe (G4) levels of activity. Aurora watchers in Asia and Europe are most favorably positioned for this event, though it may persist long enough for viewers in North America. The bulk of the CME missed the Earth, meaning the storm intensity and duration are less than what they would have been in the case of a direct hit. We are posting frequent updates on the SWPC Facebook page, which you can follow (here).
NOAA Region 1302 remains impressive and active as it continues its transit across the visible disc. As shown in the GOES X-ray plot below, 1302 produced an R3 (Strong) and multiple R2 (Moderate) flares today. Intermittent degradation to High Frequency communications occurs on the daylight side of the Earth during each respective flare. Also, the slow rise of energetic protons near Earth has flattened out and we are hovering right around the S1 threshold (NOAA Solar Radiation Storm Scales). A fairly fast Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) associated with the long duration R2 flare is partially directed at Earth (long duration meaning long-lasting in time and wider in the graph below, as opposed to the impulsive flares that spike quickly). We won?t see the bulk of this CME, but a glancing blow is predicted for late evening Eastern Time on the 25th (or right around start of day GMT on the 26th). Geomagnetic Storm levels reaching the G1 (Minor) level are likely with isolated G2 (Moderate) possible, particularly at high latitudes. 1302 remains active so stay tuned for further updates.