Posts Tagged ‘solar flares’

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NOAA Report on Solar Geomagnetic Storm that Partially Hit Earth – Coinciding with Earthquake & Volcano Activity

27/09/2011

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.

2011-09-26 19:00   

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).

2011-09-24 22:00   

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.

source: NOAA

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Guatemala Suffers Multiple Earthquake Events & Seismic Swarms in Puerto Rico

19/09/2011

4.5-5.8 Swarm of Earthquakes in Guatemala

According to multiple media sources, between 1 – 3 dead, unknown injured. (6:30 pm)

USGS is reporting, up to 5:30 pm EST four significant seismic events in the Guatemala region.  Please stand by as this blog will be updated in the event more activity occurs in this and the Puerto Rico Region (see below).

MAP  4.5   2011/09/19 20:30:04   14.058   -90.276 40.9  GUATEMALA
MAP  4.8   2011/09/19 19:17:55   14.288   -90.203 36.9  GUATEMALA
MAP  5.8   2011/09/19 18:34:01   14.332   -90.142 39.4  GUATEMALA
MAP  4.8   2011/09/19 18:00:02   14.400   -90.217 61.0  GUATEMALA

This is after yesterday’s (September 18th, 2011) 6.9 magnitude earthquake that struck Sikkim, India, Northern border with Nepal.

It is also important to note that the Puerto Rico Region has too been struck today as well with a swarm of earthquakes, less intense in magnitude.

MAP  3.1 2011/09/19 11:45:14   18.311   -65.303 95.9  Isla C. PUERTO RICO
MAP  2.9 2011/09/19 11:21:22   18.851   -65.336 87.0  PUERTO RICO REGION
MAP  3.2 2011/09/19 11:20:07   18.225   -65.177 96.1  PUERTO RICO REGION
MAP  3.3 2011/09/19 11:17:35   19.166   -65.272 41.6  PUERTO RICO REGION
MAP  3.1 2011/09/19 11:05:50   18.340   -65.280 98.0  PUERTO RICO REGION

Puerto Rico - Swarms of Quakes

Please see my posts about the sun & solar flares whose energy, according to NASA Science, have a big effect on the Earth.  This can include seismic events.

Extra Energy Can Have a Big Effect on Earth – Secret Lives of Solar Flares (NASA Science)

Could the Sun Set Off the Next Big Natural Disaster (Smithsonian News)

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Extra Energy Can Have a Big Effect on Earth – Secret Lives of Solar Flares

19/09/2011

Sept. 19, 2011 via NASAScience: One hundred and fifty two years ago, a man in England named Richard Carrington discovered solar flares.

Secret Lives (sunspots, 200px)

Sunspots sketched by
R. Carrington on Sept. 1, 1859.
© R. Astronomical Society.

[more]

It happened at 11:18 AM on the cloudless morning of Thursday, September 1st, 1859. Just as usual on every sunny day, the 33-year-old solar astronomer was busy in his private observatory, projecting an image of the sun onto a screen and sketching what he saw. On that particular morning, he traced the outlines of an enormous group of sunspots. Suddenly, before his eyes, two brilliant beads of white light appeared over the sunspots; they were so bright he could barely stand to look at the screen.

Carrington cried out, but by the time a witness arrived minutes later, the first solar flare anyone had ever seen was fading away.

It would not be the last. Since then, astronomers have recorded thousands of strong flares using instruments ranging from the simplest telescopes in backyard observatories to the most complex spectrometers on advanced spacecraft.  Possibly no other phenomenon in astronomy has been studied as much.

After all that scrutiny, you might suppose that everything about solar flares would be known.  Far from it.  Researchers recently announced that solar flares have been keeping a secret.

“We’ve just learned that some flares are many times stronger than previously thought,” says University of Colorado physicist Tom Woods who led the research team. “Solar flares were already the biggest explosions in the solar system—and this discovery makes them even bigger.”

Secret Lives (splash, 558px)

Click to view a ScienceCast video about the late phase of solar flares. [Youtube]

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), launched in February 2010, made the finding:  About 1 in 7 flares experience an “aftershock.”  About ninety minutes after the flare dies down, it springs to life again, producing an extra surge of extreme ultraviolet radiation.

“We call it the ‘late phase flare,’” says Woods.   “The energy in the late phase can exceed the energy of the primary flare by as much as a factor of four.”

What causes the late phase? Solar flares happen when the magnetic fields of sunspots erupt—a process called “magnetic reconnection.”  The late phase is thought to result when some of the sunspot’s magnetic loops re-form.  A diagram prepared by team member Rachel Hock of the University of Colorado shows how it works.

The extra energy from the late phase can have a big effect on Earth.  Extreme ultraviolet wavelengths are particularly good at heating and ionizing Earth’s upper atmosphere.  When our planet’s atmosphere is heated by extreme UV radiation, it puffs up, accelerating the decay of low-orbiting satellites.  Furthermore, the ionizing action of extreme UV can bend radio signals and disrupt the normal operation of GPS.

SDO was able to make the discovery because of its unique ability to monitor the sun’s extreme UV output in high resolution nearly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  With that kind of scrutiny, it’s tough to keep a secret–even one as old as this.

The original research of Woods et al may be found in the Oct. 1, 2011, issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

Author: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: Science@NASA

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