Forecasting space weather which affects the Arctic circle

Forecasting space weather which affects the Arctic circle
© ESA

Space weather can have an impact on the Arctic Circle. Researchers at Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland, have developed a new technique for forecasting space weather.

The new method can be used to study magnetic field changes for forecasting space weather which affects the Arctic Circle.

Forecasting the fluctuations

The technique analyses fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetic field. It was used to study magnetic field changes in different years, at different times of the day, and at different latitudes.

Doctoral candidate Pyry Peitso, said: “The Fractional Derivative Rate (FDR) technique that we have developed calculates for each day percentage which indicates how often the activeness of the magnetic field has reached a level of 0.2 nT/s (nanoteslas per second) on that day. This value corresponds to the typical initial stage of a substorm, which is one of the most common space weather phenomena. This technique makes it easier to analyse high resolution observation data for long periods of time.”

The precise nature of the understanding of latitudinal differences is important because it will make forecasting more accurate.

The impact on the Arctic Circle

The research showed that there were significant differences in the behaviour of the magnetic field at different observation stations. The largest differences between the geomagnetic activity between different times of day was observed in the Arctic Circle, the northernmost measurement zone.

Space weather has an impact on Arctic regions through the effect on electricity networks, shipping, and mining operations. One example of how space weather can manifest itself is as rapid variations in the magnetic field, which can cause undesired electrical flows in different infrastructure components. This effect can cause problems such as material deterioration.

Peitso added: “The economic significance of the Arctic region is increasing. This means that space weather forecasting will become more important, because space weather impacts on many different kinds of infrastructure and business activities in the Arctic region, including electricity networks, oil and gas pipes, mining operations, aviation and shipping.”

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