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Current geomagnetic activity in the UK and across the globe

If you wish to see the northern lights (aurora borealis) in the UK you need to be on the look-out for disturbed geomagnetic activity (magnetic storms). This can be due to space weather effects from the Sun. See Viewing Northern lights in the UK for more info.

If there has been an alert issued and we expect something to arrive in the next day or two you need to keep an eye on the geomagnetic activity levels and look out for disturbed or storm conditions.

UK observatories

In the UK BGS run three magnetic observatories that constantly monitor the changes in the Earth's magnetic field. We have observatories in Lerwick in Shetland, Eskdalemuir in Dumfries and Galloway and Hartland in Devon.

Monitoring geomagnetic activity

One way of describing the activity levels is by a magnetic scale called the K-index. This is a 3-hour index with levels between 0-9. The chart below right shows the values for the three UK observatories. It shows the K values, the level of activity and the equivalent NOAA G-scale levels. Also plotted is the global Kp scale showing overall activity across the globe.

Map of the three UK magnetic observatories.

Chart showing the current and recent geomagnetic activity in the UK and globally. The K-index values for the 3 UK observatories and the estimated global Kp is shown.