Modelling geomagnetically induced currents in midlatitude Central Europe using a thin-sheet approach
Abstract. Geomagnetically induced currents (GICs) in power systems, which can lead to transformer damage over the short and the long term, are a result of space weather events and geomagnetic variations. For a long time, only high-latitude areas were considered to be at risk from these currents, but recent studies show that considerable GICs also appear in midlatitude and equatorial countries. In this paper, we present initial results from a GIC model using a thin-sheet approach with detailed surface and subsurface conductivity models to compute the induced geoelectric field. The results are compared to measurements of direct currents in a transformer neutral and show very good agreement for short-period variations such as geomagnetic storms. Long-period signals such as quiet-day diurnal variations are not represented accurately, and we examine the cause of this misfit. The modelling of GICs from regionally varying geoelectric fields is discussed and shown to be an important factor contributing to overall model accuracy. We demonstrate that the Austrian power grid is susceptible to large GICs in the range of tens of amperes, particularly from strong geomagnetic variations in the east–west direction.