archive: SETI FW: [ASTRO] USGS Reports Geomagnetic Storm In Progress

SETI FW: [ASTRO] USGS Reports Geomagnetic Storm In Progress

Larry Klaes ( )
Fri, 28 Aug 1998 09:15:53 -0400

What effects from this space storm are Argus folks finding in
their surveys? How do you compensate for any interference?

From: Ron Baalke
Sent: Thursday, August 27, 1998 8:34 PM
Subject: [ASTRO] USGS Reports Geomagnetic Storm In Progress

News Release Address
Office of Outreach Central Region
U.S. Department of the Interior PO Box 25046, MS150
U.S. Geological Survey Denver, CO 80225-0046
Release Contact Phone Fax
August 26, 1998 Donald C. Herzog 303-273-8487
Heidi Koehler 303-236-5900 x302

USGS Reports Geomagnetic Storm In Progress

At about 3:00 am EST on Wednesday August 26, plasma from a solar eruption
impacted the Earth's magnetic field causing a sudden storm commencement
(ssc) and the possible beginning of a significant geomagnetic storm.

Since August 19, a series of solar X-ray events have been reported by NOAA's
Space Environment Center, and these events have the potential of causing
auroral activity that could be seen in the continental United States.
Auroras seen at mid-latitudes are not as dramatic as they are in the
northern latitudes, but those who have seen them describe them as looking
like city lights in the sky but in green, blue, and perhaps even red.
Because of all the complex factors involved, it is difficult to predict
whether the magnetic storm will become severe or not, but it is possible
that an aurora could be seen over the next few nights. A severe magnetic
storm in March 1989 caused aurora that were reported as far south as Mexico.
Look to the north, preferably in a dark area with a clear view of the

The Sun emits not only light but a continuous stream of charged particles or
plasma known as the "solar wind" traveling at more than million miles per
hour. The Earth's magnetic field shields us from this deadly particle
radiation; but if conditions are right, eruptions on the Sun can strike the
Earth, resulting in large erratic fluctuations in the magnetic field that
can cause power outages, satellite failures, disruption in communications,
and the aurora borealis. The 1989 storm caused the collapse of the
Hydro-Quebec power system in Canada, leaving approximately 6 million people
without power. If that storm had not occurred in the middle of the night on
the East Coast, it likely would have brought down power grids in the United
States as well.

The number of geomagnetic storms on the Earth increase and decrease in
concert with the 11-year sunspot cycle of solar activity. The next solar
sunspot maximum is scheduled to occur in the year 2000, and as our
dependence on sophisticated electronic equipment grows, so does our
vulnerability to the effects of geomagnetic storms.

The USGS operates 13 magnetic observatories throughout the US, Alaska,
Hawaii, Guam, and Puerto Rico that continuously monitor the Earth's magnetic
field. The data are received by satellite in near-real time at the National
Geomagnetic Information Center in Golden, Colo., as one operational arm of
the Geologic Hazards Team. These data are used by many customers, such as
NOAA's Space Weather Office for alerting power companies and others to
impending hazards, and by the U.S. Air Force Space Weather Operations Center
at Falcon Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., that supports
high-priority National Space Programs, United States Space Command, Air
Force Space Command and its component commands, NORAD, NASA space shuttle
operations, and military surveillance and communications systems.

As the Nation's largest water, earth and biological science and civilian
mapping agency, the USGS works in cooperation with more than 2000
organizations across the country to provide reliable, impartial, scientific
information to resource managers, planners, and other customers. This
information is gathered in every state by USGS scientists to minimize the
loss of life and property from natural disasters, contribute to the sound
conservation, economic and physical development of the Nation's natural
resources, and enhance the quality of life by monitoring water, biological,
energy and mineral resources.