Solar storm 2022: How many storms were there and what to expect

30th Nov 2022
Solar storm 2022: How many storms were there and what to expect

When the Sun is restless, we feel it too. The stronger the processes in the Sun, the greater their impact on weather-dependent people, communications, satellite geolocation, radio, and even electrical networks. And even though such a storm might not bring down trees or sink ships, it can cause serious damage to our society.

In this article, we will look into what is a solar storm, what dangers they bring and how many solar storms were there in 2022.

Nature & types of solar storms

A solar storm is a disturbance on the Sun caused by huge energy releases that can go beyond the heliosphere and affect the magnetosphere of our planet. What exactly are we talking about?

  • Solar flares near the surface and near sunspots. Often co-occurring with a coronal mass ejection with a slight increase in radiation.
  • Coronal mass ejection (CME) ─ plasma and accompanying magnetic field due to prominence eruptions
  • A cosmic radiation storm is a solar proton event (SPE) associated with the acceleration of solar particles as a result of a CME.

During each solar storm, energy is released with a power a hundred thousand times greater than the entire world’s nuclear arsenal. The difference is that this energy is “scattered” over a huge area in space and not focused on one place; otherwise, the consequences for objects standing in their way would be catastrophic. According to the peak flow, which is measured in Watts per square meter, solar flares are classified as A, B, C, M or X. X-class solar flares are the largest and most powerful.

When one of the flashes is directed towards our planet, its magnetic field can merge with the Earth’s magnetic field. Depending on the storm category, disturbances in the Earth’s geomagnetic field can last from several hours to several days and differ in varying degrees of intensity, measured by the G-index — a five-point scale of strength. According to this scale, magnetic storms are divided into levels from G1 (weak storms) to G5 (extremely strong storms).

And now, let’s take a look at solar storm statistics in 2022.

Solar Storms over the UK in 2022: chronology

The beginning of the year went rather smoothly. A solar storm in March 2022 was not all that strong. After about 20 moderate solar flares, it lasted only three days at the end of the month and was classified as mild (at the peak of the G2 category).

April was the most generous for storms. During that month, were hit by a dozen solar storms. The most notable solar storm was recorded on 14th April, after a dead sunspot ejected a huge ball of plasma towards the Earth. Luckily, this G2 storm didn’t bring us much trouble. But it was possible to observe the northern lights in more southern latitudes than usual.

In May, a series of rather weak phenomena continued. There were five sustained low-intensity storms that did not significantly impact our infrastructure. The same pattern was observed during the summer months. Storms caused by M-class flares resulted in minor radio outages on the day side of the planet. There were no solar radiation storms during this period.

In early and mid-autumn, solar activity was not too intense. September passed quietly, with only two events in the middle and end of the month.

What was the strongest solar storm to hit Earth in 2022? The most notable storm, caused by X-class flares, was recorded on 2nd October. We got lucky this time as its strength was relatively low. At the end of October, several strong storms were noted, which also did not cause any damage.

When is the next solar storm in 2022

Several moderate to severe events were predicted for November, peaking on 18 November. On this day, a strong storm is predicted ta last up to 6 hours. The rest of the month will pass calmly.

December will bring solar storms at the beginning and end of the month. The strongest ones are expected on December 8, 26 and 29. NASA’s solar storm warning for 2022 recommends that weather-sensitive people take care during these days.

Effects of solar storms in 2022

Geomagnetic waves can disrupt power systems, radio communications, and geolocation systems and throw satellites off course. Fortunately, no such phenomena happened or are predicted to happen this year.

However, several adverse effects were observed and are still expected before the end of the year. In some cases, an increased level of radiation was noted at altitudes at which civil aircraft are flying. Communication problems were observed in the polar regions. Space satellites and GPS did not experience problems. Let’s see if this will be the case during the next solar storm in 2022.

When is the next solar storm coming?

Solar cycle progression 2022

In general, the development of Sunspot Cycle 25 has not yet reached its maximum. That peak it will take place in 2025-2026. In the short term, December 2022 should see long periods of calm interrupted from time to time by minor solar storms, with a slight possibility of major disturbances.

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