Geophysics seminar: Anna Kelbert (USGS) "Geomagnetic storms and their effects on electric power grids: the role of geophysics"

03/12/2019 - 12:00pm
Munk Conference room
Event Description: 

Talk Abstract:

Increased societal reliance on technological infrastructure has recently prompted renewed interest in space
weather phenomena within the international scientific community. Geomagnetic storms can interfere with
satellite operations, as well as disrupt communications. They also induce electric fields in the solid Earth,
and, through transformer groundings, cause currents to flow in the electric power grid. These quasi-DC
currents are known as geomagnetically induced currents (GICs) and constitute a hazard to the electric power
grid industry. Severe geomagnetic storms of the past have damaged transformers and led to the collapse of
the entire Hydro-Québec electric power grid in Canada in March 1989.

Mitigation and operational response to GIC hazards starts with nowcasting (and ideally, forecasting) of
ground-level geoelectric fields; these can then be combined with the power-grid geometry and system
parameters to estimate GICs. We discuss the multidisciplinary problem of GIC estimation and outline the
recent developments in the international scientific community, and especially the U.S. government efforts
related to geoelectric field estimation and evaluation of GIC hazards. We focus on the role of geophysics,
specifically magnetotellurics, in this multi-faceted problem and describe the state-of-the-art magnetotelluric
data and three-dimensional Earth electrical conductivity models in the U.S. that are used for GIC hazard

For more information on this event, contact: 
Shunguo Wang
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