Natural Hazards Editors' Highlights

Power Outage When the Aurora Throws a Curve Ball

Omega-band aurora carries fast propagating electric currents in the azimuthal direction, producing geomagnetically induced currents that can cause power outage on the ground beneath.

Source: Geophysical Research Letters


Geomagnetically induced currents (GIC) in power networks are induced by the transient currents in the Earth’s ionosphere that are generally associated with intense, global-scale geomagnetic storms, and they are known to pose potential threat to power system stability and availability, especially in high-latitude regions.

Apatenkov et al. [2020] present new observational evidence that the so-called omega-band aurora can be associated with the simultaneous occurrence of intense GIC in power networks in the localized geographic region beneath.

This is of both public and scientific interest, as it can advance scientific and public understanding of these phenomena towards specific physical processes, rather than just the general association of aurora and GIC.

The association brings an important new insight into how electrical currents in the ionosphere can generate strong geomagnetic induction inside the Earth, and how the spatial motion of ionospheric current structures can give rise to rapid temporal changes to the magnetic field perturbation, which ultimately produce the GIC.

Citation: Apatenkov, S. V., Pilipenko, V. A., Gordeev, E. I., Viljanen, A., Juusola, L., Belakhovsky, V. B., et al. [2020]. Auroral omega bands are a significant cause of large geomagnetically induced currents. Geophysical Research Letters, 47, e2019GL086677.

—Andrew Yau, Editor, Geophysical Research Letters

Text © 2020. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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