Published: September 2, 2018 7:59:37 pm
Scientists say they have developed a new method for analyzing Earth's magnetic field data that could allow for better short-term prediction of geomagnetic storms. The earth's magnetic field extends from pole to pole and is strongly influenced by solar wind from the sun, according to the study published in the journal Chaos. This "wind" is a stream of charged particles that are constantly expelled from the surface of the sun.
Occasional flashes of light, so-called solar flares, put even more particles into the wind, according to researchers at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Sometimes the torches are followed by coronal mass ejections that send plasma into space. The resulting charged particle flux moves millions of miles from the sun to the earth. The storms are serious and disrupt a number of key technologies, including GPS signaling and satellite communications. They can also cause damage to surface electrical grids. The solar activity seems random, so that it is difficult to predict these storms.
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The researchers at the Potsdam Institute developed the method on a technique developed for systems in a state far from equilibrium. Earth's magnetic field fits this paradigm because the field is far from being balanced by the solar wind. Systems that are far from equilibrium often undergo abrupt changes, such as the sudden transition from hibernation to storm. The researchers used hourly values of the disturbance storm time or DST index. Dst values indicate the average deviation of the horizontal component of the Earth's magnetic field from its normal value.
This deviation occurs when a large burst of charged particles arrives from the sun and weakens the field created by the earth. The Dst values form a single stream of numbers, known as time series, the researchers said. The time series data can then be reformulated into a 2D or 3D image by drawing one data point against another at a specified time in the future for the prediction.
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