Space Science & Space Physics Editors' Highlights

A Space Weather Threat in the Mediterranean Region?

The impact of space weather on power grids in Mediterranean countries, such as Italy, needs deeper assessment, including consideration of coastal effects, ground conductivity, and failure reports.

Source: Space Weather


Geomagnetically induced currents (GIC) driven by space weather have the potential to disrupt national power grids the world over. Tozzi et al. [2019] use the “GIC index” developed by Marshall et al. [2011] to make a preliminary assessment of the risk from space-weather GIC to the Italian power grid. This index is a convenient tool for initial GIC risk assessment as it is derived from geomagnetic measurements readily-available from ground-based observatories, in this case from observatories in northern and central Italy and on the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa.

The authors show that significant GIC can flow in the Italian power grid during space weather events, such as large sudden commencements and sharp changes in the strength of the ring current. They thus make the case for deeper assessment of GIC risks, for example, to take account of ground conductivity and coastal effects. They also note that a wider census of power grid failures is needed to better calibrate how the GIC index can be used for assessment of the risk that space weather poses to power grids in countries at lower magnetic latitudes.

Citation: Tozzi, R., De Michelis, P., Coco, I., & Giannattasio, F. [2019]. A preliminary risk assessment of geomagnetically induced currents over the Italian territory. Space Weather, 17.

—Michael A. Hapgood, Editor, Space Weather

Text © 2019. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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