What Is G4 Geomagnetic Storm? Impact & Ways To Measure Intensity Explained

What Is G4 Geomagnetic Storm? Impact & Ways To Measure Intensity Explained

The G4 storming observed Sunday is considered 'severe' as per the SWPC, and a storm of this caliber is “a major disturbance in Earth’s magnetic field"

Ruddhi PhadkeUpdated: Monday, March 25, 2024, 01:05 PM IST
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NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center on Sunday March 24th said that a major geomagnetic storm is impacting Earth. Reports said that this implies that a major change in the planet's magnetic field is expected in due course. NOAA said that the geomagnetic storm intensified to a G4 level event (severe - Kp=8) due to a stronger-than-expected impact on Earth's magnetosphere of a passing CME. It is believed to be the strongest geomagnetic storm so far during solar cycle 25.

What is a Geomagnetic Storm?

As per an X user @CivilLearning1, "G4 geomagnetic storms stem from the sun's activity. Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), which are massive bursts of solar plasma and magnetic fields, can strike Earth and disrupt its magnetic field. Severity: G4 storms fall into the "Severe" category on the NOAA Space Weather Scales Scale: Geomagnetic storms are measured on a 1-5 G-scale (G1-Minor to G5-Extreme)".

What is Coronal Mass Ejection

As per a report by American news paper 'The Hill', A coronal mass ejection, or CME, is an explosion of plasma and magnetic material from the sun that can reach Earth in as little as 15 to 18 hours. According to NASA, CMEs can create currents in Earth’s magnetic fields that send particles to the North and South Poles. When those particles interact with oxygen and nitrogen, they can create the northern lights.

The Hill also points out that Bill Murtagh, program coordinator for the SWPC and seasoned space weather forecaster, said, “It’s essentially the Sun shooting a magnet out into space. The magnet impacts Earth’s magnetic field and we get this big interaction. That interaction is known as a geomagnetic storm, the strength of which will impact how far south the northern lights will be visible."

How to measure and gauge the storm's intensity?

The intensity of the story is measures on a 5 point scale. The lowest impact is when the storm is measured to be G1. G5 is the most severe storm. As per the report by The Hill, "The geomagnetic storm scale ranges from G1 to G5. At the lowest end is G1, described as minor storms that can lead to aurora being visible in Maine and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A G5 storm, described as extreme, could send the northern lights as far south as Florida and southern Texas."

Impact & Measurement

G1 storm- minor impacts on the power grid, satellite operations, and migratory animals.

G2 -G3 storm- A much larger storm can knock out satellites, communications, and power grids

G4-G5 storm- Geomagnetic storms can also impact our navigation, communication and radio signals. 

What needs to be done?

As per the report by The Hill, "The G4 storming observed Sunday is considered 'severe' the SWPC notes, saying a storm of this caliber is “a major disturbance in Earth’s magnetic field; often varying intensity between lower levels and severe storm conditions over the course of the event.” As alarming as it may sound, the agency is advising otherwise. The public should not anticipate adverse impacts and no action is necessary, but they should stay properly informed of storm progression by visiting our webpage,” the SWPC said in a Sunday update, adding that “infrastructure operators have been notified to take action to mitigate any possible impacts.”

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