Daily Archives: December 29, 2014

What are geomagnetic storms?

Our sun is an active star that has storms. Sometimes the sun ejects a cloud of gas, called a coronal mass ejection or CME. CMEs are often associated with solar flares, and it takes about two to three days for the charged particles in this gas to reach Earth. Earth’s magnetic field deflects these particles toward the North and South Poles.

Unfortunately, solar electrons and protons from CMEs collide with the Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere and can stir up electromagnetic storms in the Earth’s magnetosphere. These geomagnetic storms can result in the Northern Lights but also disrupt satellite-based navigation, communications, air travel, power grids and even pipelines. A geomagnetic storm in March 1989 shut down the Hydro-Quebec electric grid in Canada, leaving people without electricity. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Phenomena

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