Space Science & Space Physics Editors' Highlights

Mapping Extreme-Value Geoelectric Fields

To help mitigate magnetic storm interference on electric power grid operations, extreme-value geoelectric fields have been mapped across the mid-Atlantic United States.

Source: Geophysical Research Letters


Geoelectric fields induced in the Earth’s conducting interior during magnetic storms can interfere with the operation of electric-power grids. Some studies anticipate that the future occurrence of a rare but intense magnetic storm could cause widespread loss of power, significantly impacting the national economy. Love et al. [2018] report on an evaluation of geoelectric hazards for the mid-Atlantic United States, a region with high population density and critically important power-grid infrastructure. From analysis of electromagnetic survey data and historical magnetic observatory data, extreme-value, 100-year geoelectric field amplitudes are mapped. Comparisons with an intense magnetic storm in 1989 show that it resembles a 100-year storm. The geography of geoelectric hazard is directly related to the complex geologic and tectonic structure in the region. The geoelectric hazard maps reported in this article inform projects undertaken by power-grid companies and motivated by regulatory agencies for mitigating the deleterious effects of geomagnetic storms.

Citation: Love, J. J., Lucas, G. M., Kelbert, A., & Bedrosian, P. A. [2018]. Geoelectric hazard maps for the mid-Atlantic United States: 100 year extreme values and the 1989 magnetic storm. Geophysical Research Letters, 44.

 —Gang Lu, Editor, Geophysical Research Letters

© 2018. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0