Saturday, July 14, 2012

NASA, NOAA Solar Storm Predictions Vary

Posted at 12:31 PM ET, 07/13/2012

Solar storm incoming: Federal agencies provide inconsistent, confusing information

Visualization of a solar flare and wave of charged particles known as a coronal mass ejection (NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory) 

Update, 9:53 p.m.: NASA has responded to questions about its forecast and differences with NOAA. Scroll down to the bottom of this post. Meanwhile, NOAA has produced an excellent video about this event - click here to view.
From 12:31 p.m.: A wave of plasma stoked by an X-class solar flare, the most intense type, is headed towards Earth. This blast of charged particles, known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), is forecast to ignite a geomagnetic storm on Earth over the weekend. NOAA predicts it will be minor, maybe moderate. NASA says it will be moderate to severe.
I ask: which intensity will it be and why aren’t these two science agencies on the same page?
The intensity of the inbound CME matters.
If NOAA’s right, and the ensuing geomagnetic storm is minor, it’s no big deal. It means the high latitudes could be treated to some brilliant auroras over the weekend with few, if any, negative effects on earth-orbiting satellites or the power grid.
On the other hand, if NASA’s right, and the geomagnetic storm is strong to severe, Earth-orbiting satellites could get disoriented and the electrical grid, according to NOAA, could experience “widespread voltage control problems” among other issues. Aurora could be seen as far south as Alabama and northern California.


Source: The Washington Post


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