Statistical Analysis of Solar Geomagnetic Storm Occurrences
storms are caused when a solar wind gusts or magnetic
clouds impact the Earth's magnetosphere. The sun produces several
different types of disturbances including solar
wind (super heated coronal gases from the sun's corona), coronal
mass ejecta (large magnetic explosions giving off magnetic clouds),
flares (large explosions producing magnetic clouds). To see a
model showing a solar flare produce a coronal mass ejection and a magnetic
cloud impact the Earth's magnetosphere
here. When a group of charged particles (magnetic clouds or solar
wind) collides with the magnetosphere it charges the magnetosphere
and produces a geomagnetic storm. Geomagnetic storms have many effects
on Earth. Geomagnetic storms produce beautiful Auroras, but they
also have the capability of disrupting cell phone use, Global Positioning
Satellites, taking down power grids and threatening astronauts with harmful
radiation. Geomagnetic storms affect everything that has to use radio
waves because all radio waves pass through the ionosphere and that is where
the storm impacts. Auroras (Northern
Lights) are seen throughout the world during very large storms, but
mainly seen at higher
latitudes (Canada and Northern U.S.A.). The intensity of geomagnetic
storms is measured in Kp.
Kp ranges from 0 (no activity) to 9 (extremely high activity) and it is
quasi logarithmic, very similar to the Richter Scale for Earthquakes.
Kp is derived 8 times a day (3 Hour intervals) from mid-to-high latitude
magnetometer measurements from all over the globe. Geomagnetic storms
typically occur during the solar
maximum. The solar maximum happens about every 11 years.
The level of Solar activity is measured in F10.7
cm x-ray flux.
For more information on Solar Activity and Geomagnetic Storms please look at the Links page.
Our research is done using both
of these indices, (Kp and F10.7) and one goal was to find a pattern in
geomagnetic storm occurrence. Another goal of the project was to
find out when the best time is to plan radar operations to collect data
on geomagnetic storms. Our concentration was on very large storms
(Kp > 8), however we also did a lot of research with all levels of Geomagnetic
storms (Kp > 5). The existing theoretical models and data
analysis that we studied throughout the project stated that the maximums
are found near the equinoxes (March 22nd and September 22nd). Also
it was believed that March and April are the most active periods of the
year. These ideas became the basis for the research, we wanted to
confirm for ourselves that they were correct.
For more information on our findings visit the Results page.