Strongest geomagnetic storm in two decades impacting Vietnam

The Earth experienced its strongest geomagnetic storm in two decades on May 10, with Vietnam directly in its path.
Illustrative image (Photo: The Earth)
Illustrative image (Photo: The Earth)

Classified at Level 5, the storm has produced dazzling auroras but also posed a risk of disrupting satellites and power grids as it is expected to linger until the end of this week.

Asso. Prof Ha Duyen Chau, former Director of the Institute of Geophysics at the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, said geomagnetic storm negatively affects human health as it strongly impacts the nervous and cardiovascular systems.

Studies have shown potential increases in heart rate and blood pressure, especially among the elderly. Additionally, white blood cell counts may decrease during a storm, potentially contributing to the spread of certain diseases like cholera, plague, influenza, typhoid and meningitis. However, it is important to note that healthy people are generally unaffected. The most susceptible include those with neurological or cardiovascular diseases, or sensitive to magnetic fields. Symptoms can range from fatigue, restlessness to death in extreme cases.

Asso. Prof Nguyen Xuan Anh, Director of the Institute of Geophysics, said Vietnam now has four stations dedicated to monitoring magnetic variations and geomagnetic storms, supporting research and forecasting. They are located in Phu Thuy, the outlying district of Gia Lam; Sapa in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai; Da Lat in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong; and the Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu.

However, only the Phu Thuy and Da Lat stations are able to transmit data directly to the institute and international monitoring networks.

The institute plans to upgrade geomagnetic and ionospheric data collection stations with modern digital magnetometers to enhance the quality of research and storm forecasting, he said, adding that it will collaborate with Japan to repair the magnetic field recording equipment at the Bac Lieu station.