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Solar tsunamis


Potential sites for new variometers (green circles) and the existing Eyrewell geomagnetic observatory (blue circle)

BGS is part of a University of Otago (Dunedin, New Zealand) research project to support our joint understanding of space weather impacts on mid-latitude island nations, examples of which are the UK and New Zealand. The Solar Tsunamis project runs from March 2021 to September 2024 and includes a wide variety of specialist researchers both in New Zealand and the UK, as well as researchers in the US, Japan and Switzerland.

BGS will contribute experience in space weather impacts, geomagnetic field observations, and the modelling of GIC in electrical and gas pipeline networks. We will also participate in active transformer experiments designed to probe how transformers underperform during periods of GIC. We intend to jointly work with New Zealand and other international scientists on 3D electromagnetic modelling solutions to describe surface electric fields during space weather events.

Our research will support the following activities

  • Deployment of new magnetic variometers by Otago technicians to monitor the changing magnetic field during geomagnetic storms across New Zealand
  • The first active GIC transformer injection campaign, to monitor how transformers react to GIC
  • Creation and production of digitised historic magnetometer observations from the paper magnetogram archive at Eyrewell magnetic observatory
  • Provisioning of "nowcasts" of rapid magnetic field observations from Eyrewell magnetic observatory in South Island, given the observatory's unique circumstances
  • Building and validation of a model to describe Space Weather Impacts on the New Zealand gas pipeline network
  • Mitigation of the potential impact on New Zealand's energy infrastructure of extreme Space Weather events


For more information please contact Dr Alan Thomson