Riding On the Tail of A CME

Solar storms more severe when two events ‘slipstream’ behind each other

Solar storms more severe when two events 'slipstream' behind each other

A research team led by Imperial College London has presented in a new study that Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) or solar storms could be more extreme than previously believed when they “slipstream” each other or when two such events follow each other. Modeling of an extreme space weather event that missed the Earth narrowly in 2012 shows that it could have been worse if another one occurred.

Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) are explosions of vast amounts of magnetized material from the Sun, which travel at high speeds and release a large amount of energy in a short period. When the CMEs reach the Earth, they trigger auroras, but they can also disrupt satellites and communications.

The most extreme of space weather events are likely to be catastrophic, causing power blackouts that would damage transformers, and it could take years to repair. Therefore, precise monitoring and forecasting are important to reduce possible damage.

The research team analyzed a large CME that happened on July 23, 2012, which narrowly missed the Earth by a couple of days. It traveled at around 2 250 km/s (1 400 mps), making it comparable to one of the biggest events on record– the 1859 Carrington event.

“The 23 July 2012 event is the most extreme space weather event of the space age, and if this event struck the Earth, the consequences could cause technological blackouts and severely disrupt society, as we are ever more reliant on modern technologies for our day-to-day lives,” said lead author Dr. Ravindra Desai from the Department of Physics at Imperial.

“We find however that this event could actually have been even more extreme– faster and more intense– if it had been launched several days earlier directly behind another event.”

The team studied one of the possible causes to identify what made the storm so extreme, and determined that it was the release of another CME — on July 19, just a few days before — that ‘cleared’ the path for another.

CMEs travel faster than the ambient solar wind, the stream of charged particles constantly flowing from the sun. This means the solar wind exerts drag on the traveling CME, slowing it down.

However, if a previous CME has recently passed through, the solar wind will be affected in such a way that it will not slow down the subsequent CME as much. This is similar to how race car drivers ‘slipstream’ behind one another to gain a speed advantage.


The July 23 event. Image credit: NASA/STEREO

The team developed a model that accurately represented the traits of the July 23 event, then simulated what would happen if it had happened earlier or later, or closer to the July 19 event.

The researchers found that by the time of the July 23 event, the solar wind had recovered from the July 19 event, thus, the previous event had a small impact. However, the model showed that if the latter event happened earlier– nearer the July 19 event– it could have been more extreme and could have possibly reached up to 2 750 km/s (1 700 mps).

“We show that the phenomenon of ‘solar wind preconditioning’, where an initial CME causes a subsequent CME to travel faster, is important for magnifying extreme space weather events,” said co-author Han Zhang.

“Our model results, showing the magnitude of the effect and how long the effect lasts, can contribute to current space weather forecasting efforts.”

“There have been previous instances of successive solar storms bombarding the Earth, such as the Halloween Storms of 2003,” co-author Emma Davies added.

“During this period, the sun produced many solar flares, with accompanying CMEs of speeds around 2 000 km/s. These events damaged satellites and communication systems, caused aircraft to be re-routed, and a power outage in Sweden.”

“There is always the possibility of similar or worse scenarios occurring this next solar cycle, therefore accurate models for prediction are vital to helping mitigate their effects.”


“Three-Dimensional Simulations of Solar Wind Preconditioning and the 23 July 2012 Interplanetary Coronal Mass Ejection” – Desai, R. T. et al. – Solar Physics – DOI: 10.1007/s11207-020-01700-5 – OPEN ACCESS


Predicting the large-scale eruptions from the solar corona and their propagation through interplanetary space remains an outstanding challenge in solar- and helio-physics research. In this article, we describe three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamic simulations of the inner heliosphere leading up to and including the extreme interplanetary coronal mass ejection (ICME) of 23 July 2012, developed using the code PLUTO. The simulations are driven using the output of coronal models for Carrington rotations 2125 and 2126 and, given the uncertainties in the initial conditions, are able to reproduce an event of comparable magnitude to the 23 July ICME, with similar velocity and density profiles at 1 au. The launch time of this event is then varied with regards to an initial 19 July ICME and the effects of solar wind preconditioning are found to be significant for an event of this magnitude and to decrease over a time-window consistent with the ballistic refilling of the depleted heliospheric sector. These results indicate that the 23 July ICME was mostly unaffected by events prior, but would have traveled even faster had it erupted closer in time to the 19 July event where it would have experienced even lower drag forces. We discuss this systematic study of solar wind preconditioning in the context of space weather forecasting.

Featured image credit: NASA/STEREO

from:    https://watchers.news/2020/10/04/cme-slipstream-research/

Solar Storms & Earthquake Connections

Strong Geomagnetic storm hits late, earthquake prone areas should keep alert

Published on March 9, 2012 – 16:00 UT
– By TWS Staff Reporter
– Edited by Staff Editor

Another piece of the earthquake trigger puzzle is the work done by TheWeatherSpace.com Senior Meteorologist Kevin Martin. Martin has been bashed at by others in the weather field, media outlets, and even Tony Phillips at SpaceWeather. Martin has been working on his theory of how solar storms may be a trigger to earthquakes since before the year 2000. According to online records, Martin was once known as “Geomagnetic Man”, in-which he was predicting quake windows like fellow predictor Berkland.(TheWeatherSpace.com) – Two theories floating around have come together to question what is next. As the Full Moon goes and the Solar Storm remains or fades, two people are wondering what will happen next.

Geologist Jim Berkland is the founder and developer of the theory involving earthquakes and the moon positions. According to Berkland, his Earthquake window this month was March 8th through the 15th, issued on March 8th. His theory is based on Syzygy, which is a twice-monthly alignment of the Sun and the Moon, from new to full.
No records before-hand show the work being done. Martin is the founder and developer of the theory that solar storms and geomagnetic storms may trigger earthquakes. Dr. Tony Phillips last year finally was starting to agree on what Martin has been saying for over 12 years now and more people should be aware of the trigger.

“Oh I get laughed at a lot but down the line the joke is always on them,” said Martin. “I think outside of the box, something not many want to do today. The generation of today’s youth and world is laziness and Xbox. Back in 1998 is when I started working on my theory, which I still believe in today to be a trigger.”

At the current time only a magnitude 7.1 was registered in the Southern Pacific, northeast of Australia. Coincidentally it happened when the geomagnetic storm arrived. The area of the quake is prone to large quakes, but last year a solar storm hit the planet and Japan had the devastating earthquake right as it hit.

Right now the geomagnetic levels are dropping after a peak of 7 on the 1 through 9 scale. This went well with what Martin had said on TWS’ official Facebook page on Thursday morning when Dr. Tony Phillips had declared the storm “a dud”.

“What matters is how much energy is being trapped up there in the geomagnetic field of the Earth, and when the Bz goes south, these particles will find a “Crack” so to speak and filter downwards,” said Martin. ” This can happen either right after impact or within 6-18 hours after the initial impact. Also the impact could come in waves throughout the day.”

Martin states that the trigger window is still open 24 hours after the storm finishes. Earthquakes hit without notice but it can still be a good idea to be ‘On-Watch’ and alert when triggers are elevated.
from:    http://www.theweatherspace.com/news/TWS-30912-solar-storm-hits-planet.html

Continuing Solar Storms

Solar storms causing few problems on Earth

Geomagnetic and solar radiation storms hitting Earth after Tuesday’s solar flares may not be as big as advertised, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday.

Together, such storms can affect GPS systems, other satellite systems and power grids, but none of these problems has been reported, even as the leading edge of the sun’s coronal mass ejections from Tuesday hit Earth on Thursday morning, scientists said.

The geomagnetic storm has reached only G1 intensity on a scale from G1 (weak) to G5 (extreme), and the solar radiation storm is an S3 (strong) on a similar 1-to-5 scale, NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center said. Earlier, NOAA had predicted a G3/S4 event.

Still, the solar radiation storm has prompted some airlines to divert planes from routes near the north pole, where radio communications may be affected and passengers at high altitudes may be at a higher than normal radiation risk.

“Today we are using alternate routes for seven westbound flights to Asia. We will monitor possible solar impact to the operation in making decisions for tomorrow and future dates,” Delta Air Lines spokesman Anthony Black said.

American Airlines put three high-polar flights  from the U.S. to Japan and China on lower-altitude routes on Thursday, spokesman Ed Martelle said. And United Airlines rerouted four flights to Asia, according to United spokesman Mike Trevino.

The geomagnetic storm still could give earthlings quite a show Thursday night. The storm is expected to produce auroras, or northern lights, that may be visible as far south as the northern United States, said Physicist Joseph Kunches with the Space Weather Prediction Center.

Tuesday’s solar eruptions included two solar flares – intense bursts of radiation from the sun – and two coronal mass ejections, which are releases of gas and magnetic fields from the outer sun. The coronal mass ejections reached Earth on Thursday.

Kunches likened the challenge of forecasting the strength of the storms to hitting a major league pitcher’s fastball.

“Like a hitter, we try (to) figure out if the pitch is coming down the middle of the plate or is low and outside,” Kunches said. “The problem is, the pitch comes from the sun from 93 million miles away.”

Forecasters also try to figure out which way the particles ejected from the sun are oriented, which has major implications on how strong the event will be.

“Like a curveball, the orientation can change. We didn’t see the spin with this event,” Kunches said.

He added that the event is not over, and the effect of the solar radiation could increase if it becomes better aligned later Thursday. By Friday morning, the solar storm should be diminishing.

The sunspot that produced the storms, however, still will be facing Earth through the weekend, and further emissions could bring new storms to the planet.

from:   http://lightyears.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/08/radiation-from-solar-storms-begins-to-hit-earth/?hpt=hp_c2

NASA Solar Storm Briefing

NASA to Discuss Solar Storm Tracking Efforts Thursday

SPACE.com Staff


Aug. 9, 2011 solar flare in ultraviolet range
This still from a video taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the Aug. 8, 2011 solar flare as it appeared in the ultraviolet range of the light spectrum. The flare registered as an X6.9 class sun storm, the largest of the Solar Cycle 24.

NASA will hold a press conference Thursday (Aug. 18) to discuss “new details about the structure of solar storms and the impact they have on Earth,” space agency officials said in a statement.

The briefing this week will review new observations from several NASA spacecraft, including the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (Stereo), that currently keep a close eye on the sun, agency officials said in the statement released today (Aug. 16)

to read more, go to:    http://www.space.com/12649-nasa-solar-storm-tracking-briefing-thursday.html