Down to Earth with an Electric Hazard from Space
Dr. Jeffrey Love, USGS Geomagnetism Program
Electric fields induced in the Earth’s conducting interior during magnetic storms can interfere with the operation of electric-power grid systems. In extreme cases, these geoelectric fields can damage high-voltage transformers and cause blackouts. Maps of extreme-event geoelectric amplitude can help utility companies evaluate the vulnerability of their systems to this ground-level space-weather hazard. We discuss the construction of such maps using data from the EarthScope magnetotelluric survey and from long-operating magnetic observatories. This project is a collaboration between solid-Earth and space-physics scientists, and it is motivated by the U.S. National Space Weather Action Plan.
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