Large-scale currents flowing overhead in the ionosphere induce electric and magnetic fields on the surface of the Earth. So-called Geomagnetically Induced Currents (GICs) can in turn be induced in technologically networks located underneath these currents, such as railroads, power transmission lines, and pipelines. During electromagnetic storm periods caused by the Sun these GICs can be large, often exceeding several hundred Amperes, and cause catastrophic consequences to the system in which they flow.
Scientists at Dartmouth are attempting to predict the occurence of GICs using physics-based models of the global magnetosphere, ionosphere, and Earth conductivity together with input from a satellite located in the upstream solar wind. The electric (and magentic) field at the surface of the Earth over North America will be determined with 30-90 minutes warning, allowing an advance warning of GICs to be calculated for specific conducting networks.
Click on image at left to view animation.
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