Source: adapted from T.S. Molinski, W.E. Feero and B.L. Damsky
(2000) "Shielding grids from solar storms”, IEEE Spectrum.
Probability of a Geomagnetic Storm with a Field Change Greater
than 300 Nanoteslas per Minute (22 year cycle)
The geomagnetic north pole is located approximately on the
northwestern edge of Greenland. Because of the structure of the
earth's electromagnetic field, a geomagnetic storm creates field
disturbances that impact various powers systems such as electric
grids, global positioning systems and telecommunications. The above
map represents the probability of a significant geomagnetic storm
with the pattern shaped like concentric circles from the geomagnetic
north. The highest risk area is roughly between 50 and 65 degrees
north over the North American continent and between 60 and 75
degrees north over the European continent.
The higher risk areas also cover both the transatlantic and
transpacific great circle air routes which in case of a serious
geomagnetic storm could expose passengers to high radiation levels
and may disrupt the aircraft navigation system.
In 1989 a severe geomagnetic storm caused the collapse of
Quebec's power grid, leaving 6 million people without power for 9
hours. An important reason why this Canadian province was hit is
that a great share of its electricity is generated by hydroelectric
plants in Northern Quebec (mostly around James Bay), which is at the
threshold of the highest electromagnetic storm probability area.