Michigan Geospace Model Leads to Accurate Warnings Before Historic Geomagnetic Storm

aurora

On May 10, 2024, shortly after 17:00 UTC, a historic geomagnetic storm arrived at Earth. This storm was the result of five coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which are large explosions of charged particles and magnetic fields lifting off from the Sun’s surface. Arriving at Earth, these CMEs combined to create a storm that drove brilliant auroras visible across the continental United States and as far south as northern India.

A key tool used to aid SWPC’s warning and alert system is the Michigan Geospace model – a numerical model of the space environment that gives short lead time forecasts of geospace storms. The Geospace model is a specific configuration of the University of Michigan’s Space Weather Modeling Framework, which was transitioned to operations in 2016 and updated multiple times since then. During the May 10th event, the Geospace model accurately predicted two key indexes of the global storm strength: Kp and Dst. Further, it provided localized information on what regions were likely to experience strong geomagnetic disturbances (GMDs). With the help of the SWMF/Geospace model, SWPC was able to issue an alert that the storm was about to begin.