Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan

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Rare geomagnetic storm strikes Earth

Posted: March 19, 2015

Rare geomagnetic storm strikes Earth

A coronal mass ejection hit the Earth’s magnetic field on March 17, 2015. The storm was the strongest geomagnetic storm of the current solar cycle, which began in 2008.

Assistant Research Scientist Shasha Zou states, “This is the largest geomagnetic storm we have seen in almost a decade! This storm has caused dramatic disturbances in Earth's ionosphere, which affected the performance of the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) used to aid air navigation, in particular in Alaska, the northeastern part of the US and some regions of Canada.”

Auroras from the solar storm were visible from Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Alaska.

Zou’s research interests include understanding the physical mechanisms that generate these auroras and other large-scale disturbances in the Earth's space environment.

“I have been particularly interested in using ground-based and space-borne observations to characterize how the ionosphere responds during geomagnetically disturbed times and to understand how those ionospheric disturbances that affect the navigation and communication systems are produced.”

This solar storm has been in the news on NBC and the Washington Post.

(Image: NASA)

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