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THE RISKS AND CONSEQUENCES OF GEOMAGNETIC STORM
Geomagnetic storm can be defined as a temporary disturbance of the magnetosphere of the earth. This disturbance results from an interference causing disturbance in the interplanetary medium. It is a very fundamental component of what is referred to as space weather. Solar flares do interact with the earth’s magnetic field and the resulting magnetic fluctuations have the potential to significantly affect the power grid and other forms of infrastructure..
The Physics behind the magnetic storm
The solar flares and solar wind interact vehemently with the magnetic field of the earth and produce the magnetic storms. At the initial stages, the solar wind pressure increases thereby compressing the magnetosphere. The solar wind’s magnetic field will then interact with the magnetic field of the earth. The consequence of this is transmission of a substantially increased amount of energy which is released into the magnetosphere (Kappenman 26-7). Plasma movement into the magnetosphere also increases. This is driven by the risen state of the electric fields in the magnetosphere and ionosphere. Magnetic force is then created by the electric currents whose consequence is the pushing of the boundary that exists between the solar wind and the magnetosphere. As a result, there occurs disturbance of the earth’s magnetosphere. This is how geomagnetic storm comes about.
The sun can trigger geometric storms through a coronal mass ejection. This is a large and violent ejection which is charged with particles which are carried by solar winds at speeds of over 2000 kilometers per second. The magnetic fields of these ejections have complicated helical shapes that begin at the surface of the sun. They later expand through the interplanetary space. By the time they get to the earth, the magnetic fields can be of huge volumes. Their passages can also last a long time coupling with the earth’s magnetosphere. Consequently they cause geomagnetic storms.
The risks of geomagnetic storm to the public safety and infrastructure
The world is continuously becoming electrified. In the United States, the extra high voltage of power grid has risen by a factor of ten. China’s is even more vulnerable to geometric storms. Geomagnetic storms have been witnessed a number of times. The aftermath of these storms could be very adverse on the general public and even the infrastructure. The first geomagnetic storm was witnessed in the early 19th century. The effects of this disturbance were well observed. In September 1859, the hugest and most destructive geomagnetic storm in history occurred. Later on, observation of sun flares and sunspots could be made. This has been branded the famous Carrington (Severe Space Weather Events, 18). The last major geomagnetic storm was witnessed in 1992.
Other geomagnetic storms have happened since then and their effects have also been adverse on both the public and the infrastructure. It is worth noting the effect of a geomagnetic storm that occurred in 1859 March which collapsed the Hydro-Québec power grid. The grid was destroyed after the lapse of very few seconds.............
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