Novel Warnings: Severe Geomagnetic Storm Impacting Earth from 10 to 12 May 2024

Since decades ago, astronomers and astrophysicists have been carrying out research to understand the dynamics of the Sun. The results of this research are allowing those experts in national meteorological offices and other solar/terrestrial observatories to implement the first elements of space weather early warning. On Thursday 8 May 2024, the Space Weather Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States issued a Watch related to a category 4 severe geomagnetic storm that is impacting the planet as of 10 May 2024, and will continue for several days. According to this Center, it last issued a Geomagnetic Storm Watch of this category (G4) in January 2005. The scale is structured in 5 levels (G1 to G5) and the Space Weather Prediction Center indicated that it has monitored G5 conditions these days as well. More information on this scale is available here. Geomagnetic storms are triggered by strong solar flares emanating from the Sun. UN-SPIDER invites you to visit the dedicated webpage of the Space Weather Prediction Center to understand more about this Watch, and to become aware of other aspects of space weather.  

In a similar fashion, the Space Physics and Space Weather Department at the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) reported very high values for the Kp index, which is one of the parameters used to characterize the magnitude of geomagnetic storms. The Space Weather Service Network of the European Space Agency, the Met Office in the United Kingdom and the Australian Space Weather Forecasting Centre also noted severe space weather conditions related to this severe geomagnetic storm. The NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory was able to capture impressive images of this strong solar flare on 10 May 2024.  

Geomagnetic solar storms impact the magnetosphere and the electromagnetic field of the Earth, and may affect the routine operation of satellites in orbit, as well as the provision of electrical service in specific regions of the planet, as rapid and severe variations in the magnitude of the magnetic field of the Earth in those regions may induce very large voltages in transmission lines that deliver electricity over large areas, burning transformers. 

Efforts like this one are contributing to enhance early warning capacities worldwide, and contributing to the implementation of the Early Warnings for All initiative launched by the United Nations Secretary General in 2022.