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Strong magnetic storms possible this week

By Liang Shuang | China Daily | Updated: 2024-03-25 09:32

The China Meteorological Administration called for special attention to be paid to potential geomagnetic storms from Sunday to Tuesday, as it predicted such storms may impact sectors such as aviation and satellite navigation, while "northern light hunters "may have a chance to observe the phenomenon.

The administration said on Sunday that it is probable that geomagnetic activities may occur through Tuesday, with some likelihood of a moderate or even major storm on Monday.

Space stations may experience a decrease in their orbit altitude, the administration said, adding that satellite navigation systems may become less precise, and the aviation sector may experience communication disruptions and extra radiation over the polar region.

The loss of altitude could occur as the two stations in orbit are "dragged down" by extra friction caused by air in the upper atmosphere heating up due to the geomagnetic storms.

For the general public, the administration said, those engaged in breeding or racing homing pigeons are advised to reduce the activities as the birds' navigational abilities may also be affected by the storms.

On the other hand, those interested in observing aurora borealis, or the northern lights, in the country may have a chance to see the phenomenon if weather permits, the administration said.

Geomagnetic storms are triggered by solar eruptive activities, specifically coronal mass ejections, said Han Dayang, an engineer with the National Center for Space Weather.

Such ejections may create shock waves of solar particles and cause changes in the direction and magnitude of the Earth's magnetic field, leading to geomagnetic storms, he said in early December last year during a similar weather event.

At that time, a strong geomagnetic storm led to the northern lights illuminating the skies in northern China, which is rare because the area is relatively far from polar regions.

The administration said this time, the coronal ejection, which lasted several hours on Saturday, was almost directly facing Earth, so it may create strong geomagnetic activity, adding that such an eruption could lead to auroras.


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