This blog provides commentary on interesting geological events occurring around the world in the context of my own work. This work is, broadly, geological fluid dynamics. The events that I highlight here are those that resonate with my professional life and ideas, and my goal is to interpret them in the context of ideas I've developed in my research. The blog does not represent any particular research agenda. It is written on a personal basis and does not seek to represent the University of Illinois, where I am a professor of geology and physics. Enjoy Geology in Motion! I would be glad to be alerted to geologic events of interest to post here! I hope that this blog can provide current event materials that will make geology come alive.

Banner image is by Ludie Cochrane..

Susan Kieffer can be contacted at s1kieffer at gmail.com

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

X5-class solar flare on its way!

Northern lights over Lake Superior
Photo by Shawn Malone, available on spaceweather.com

A huge X5-class eruption at 00:28 UT, March 7, is heading toward earth (a mild storm had already started prior to the X5 class one). This CME is coming out of  sunspot group 1429. X-class flares are major events that can trigger "planetwide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms." On another scale (of magnetic field intensity?), the Kp-index, this is a 5-6 event. A Kp index of 5 or greater indicates storm-level geomagnetic activity. These storms, in turn, are associated with charging of surfaces on satellites, and with increased atmospheric drag on satellites as the atmosphere inflates under the influence of the event.

The CME is expected to reach earth on March 8th at 0625 UT (+/1 7 hours). If I'm doing my time-zones right, that's about 10:25 p.m. tonight Central Standard Time here in Illinois.  This was the strongest CME in 5 years.  Have already had high-frequency radio blackouts, could have power grid outages... This is kind of a fun, "energetic" description of the "sun going 'boom;!"

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