[Answered] What are Geomagnetic Storms? How do they impact the earth?

Introduction: Explain Geomagnetic storm.
Body: Write how geomagnetic storms are formed and what their impact on earth is. 
Conclusion: Conclude giving a way forward. 

A geomagnetic storm is a major and temporary disturbance of Earth’s magnetosphere. They occur when a surge of solar wind (charged particles from the sun) interacts with Earth’s magnetic field and generates charged particles and currents in Earth’s upper atmosphere.

The solar wind conditions that are effective for creating geomagnetic storms are  

  • Sustained (for many hours) periods of high-speed solar wind, 
  • A southward directed solar wind magnetic field (opposite the direction of Earth’s field) at the dayside of the magnetosphere. 
  • This condition is effective for transferring energy from the solar wind into Earth’s magnetosphere.  

Not all solar flares reach Earth, but solar flares/storms, solar energetic particles (SEPs), high-speed solar winds, and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that come close can impact space weather in near-Earth space and the upper atmosphere 

Impact of Geomagnetic storms on earth 

  • Changes in earth’s atmosphere: Geomagnetic storms result in intense currents in the magnetosphere, changes in the radiation belts, and changes in the ionosphere, including heating the ionosphere and the thermosphere. 
  • Impact on orbiting satellites: Geomagnetic storms can cause extra drag on satellites in low-earth orbit, which could lead to de-orbiting of satellites. For example, Elon Musk’s Starlink has lost dozens of satellites that were caught in a geomagnetic storm. 
  • Impact on space based services: Solar storms can hit operations of space-dependent services like global positioning systems (GPS), radio, and satellite communications. 
  • Impact on communication: Geomagnetic storms interfere with high-frequency radio communications that rely on ionosphere for propagation. 
  • Impact on flights and Space programmes: Aircraft flights and space exploration programmes are also vulnerable. People in airplanes face increased exposure to damaging radiation during geomagnetic storms and sensitive electronics onboard are also affected. 
  • Impact on Power grid and Pipeline: Geomagnetic storms can create harmful geomagnetic induced currents (GICs) in the power grid and pipelines. 
  • Formation of Auroras: Creation The storms can create the appearance of beautiful auroras or the northern and southern lights. 

Scientists use computer models to predict solar storms and solar activities in general. However, Current models are capable of predicting a storm’s time of arrival and its speed. But the storm’s structure or orientation still cannot be predicted. 

With the increasing global dependence on satellites, there is a need for better space weather forecasts and more effective ways to protect satellites. 

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