J. Space Weather Space Clim.
Volume 10, 2020
|Number of page(s)||16|
|Published online||07 October 2020|
Estimating the electric field response to the Halloween 2003 and September 2017 magnetic storms across Scotland using observed geomagnetic fields, magnetotelluric impedances and perturbation tensors
School of Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton, National Oceanography Centre, European Way, SO14 3ZH Southampton, UK
2 Institut für Geophysik, Georg-August Universität Göttingen, Friedrich-Hund-Platz 1, 37073 Göttingen, Germany
* Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 31 August 2020
Geomagnetic storms generate heightened magnetovariational activity, which induces electric fields that drive hazardous currents known as geomagnetically induced currents (GICs) through man-made technological conductors including power transmission lines, railway networks and gas pipelines. We multiply magnetotelluric (MT) impedances from 23 sites in Scotland and northern England with measured geomagnetic field spectra from the Halloween 2003 and September 2017 storms to estimate maximum peak-to-peak, electric field magnitudes and directions for these storms, which we present as hazard maps. By sampling these electric fields in the direction of the longest (>50 km), high-voltage (275 and 400 kV) Scottish power transmission lines and integrating along their lengths, we estimate their associated transmission-line voltages. Lateral electrical conductivity variations in the Earth generate horizontal magnetic field gradients. We investigate the effect of these gradients on electric field estimates obtained using remote magnetic fields by applying a correction to the impedance tensor derived from the magnetic perturbation tensor between the local MT site and the remote magnetic field site. For the September 2017 storm, we also compare our estimated electric fields with a unique dataset comprising measured storm-time electric fields from 7 MT sites. We find that peak-to-peak, electric field magnitudes may have reached 13 V/km during the Halloween storm in some areas of the Scottish Highlands, with line-averaged electric fields >5 V/km sustained along a number of long-distance, high-voltage power transmission lines; line-averaged electric fields for the September 2017 storm are 1 V/km or less. Our surface electric fields show significant site-to-site variability that arises due to Earth’s internal 3D electrical conductivity structure, as characterised by the MT impedance tensors.
Key words: magnetic storms / eelectric fields / magnetotellurics / hazard maps / geomagnetically induced currents
© F. Simpson & K. Bahr, Published by EDP Sciences 2020
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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