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Sun Unleashes Severe Geomagnetic Storm: BOM Warns of Impacts on Earth

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The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a warning of a severe geomagnetic storm event set to affect Earth, starting at approximately 8 pm AEST on Friday. The BOM cautions that this event could lead to power outages and potential disruptions to satellite services, urging governments and critical infrastructure operators to take necessary measures to mitigate any impacts on essential services.

Geomagnetic storms, although not posing direct risks to human health, can have significant implications for technological systems. The anticipated level G4 (severe) geomagnetic storm conditions are expected to reach Earth on Friday evening before potentially reducing to G3, with the possibility of returning to G4 intensity on Saturday.

The G-scale, used to measure global geomagnetic activity, spans from G1 (minor) to G5 (extreme), indicating the severity of the magnetic fluctuations across the planet. The BOM forecasts that these heightened geomagnetic conditions could persist until early Monday morning AEST, signifying an extended period of potential disruptions.

This event stems from the observation of four coronal mass ejections, occurring at distinct times on Wednesday and Thursday. Coronal mass ejections result from the eruption of plasma and magnetic field from the Sun’s outer atmosphere, triggering geomagnetic storms upon their impact with Earth.

According to the US‘s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, such severe magnetic storms may lead to visible auroras even in states as geographically far-reaching as Alabama and northern California. Similarly, the UK‘s Meteorological Service office anticipates potential aurora sightings as far south as Liverpool, highlighting the global scope of the expected geomagnetic impacts.

The BOM emphasizes that G4 level geomagnetic storms possess the capacity to disrupt various technological systems, including power grids, satellite communications, and GPS services. As a result, continued monitoring and proactive measures are essential to mitigate potential repercussions on critical infrastructure.

If the predicted G4 geomagnetic conditions materialize, residents near Sydney and Perth may witness bright auroras at lower latitudes than usual, offering a unique astronomical spectacle for those in dark-sky locations. The BOM’s Australian Space Weather Forecasting Centre remains the primary source for space weather forecasts and alerts, providing essential information for stakeholders across various sectors.

Rachel Adams

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