Geoelectric Fields and Geomagnetically Induced Currents in the United Kingdom
McKay, Allan John
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This thesis investigates geo-electric fields in the United Kingdom with particular regard to Geomagnetically Induced Currents (GIC) in the Scottish Power electricity transmission network (SPTN). The joint spectral characteristics of Scottish Power GIC and Eskdalemuir magnetic observatory data are analysed, and GIC are shown to be coherent with magnetic field variations over the period range 2-1100s. A bi-variate transfer function model of the physical link between magnetic field variations and GIC demonstrates that long-period (>200s) induction makes a first order contribution to the observed GIC at one SPTN site, and dominates the response at another. Thin-sheet modelling at a period of 750s is used to explore the relative influence of three factors on the size and spatial distribution of the calculated electric field: (i) the contrast in conductance between the sea and the land; (ii) variations in conductance due to sea depth; (iii) lateral variations in conductance representative of those in the geographic area occupied by the SPTN. The modelling suggests that a `coast-only' model (i) will over-predict electric field magnitudes in the SPTN region by a factor of 2-5 in comparison with model (iii). Distortion analysis of Magnetotelluric (MT) data at a period of 750s acquired over numerous field campaigns reveal pervasive galvanic distortion of the electric field in the SPTN region. GIC transfer functions of one site are consistently interpreted as proxy MT responses, and it is shown that galvanic distortion of the electric field modifies significantly the GIC amplitude response. A prototype model of the SPTN developed by the British Geological Survey and the Finnish Meteorological Institute is used to calculate GIC. It is shown that neglect of lateral variations of conductivity may lead to false conclusions about the direction of the external electric field that maximises GIC. Time derivatives of the Eskdalemuir horizontal magnetic field are used as an index of GIC activity, and to select events which may have led to large GIC in the time period (1983-2000) prior to the monitoring of GIC by Scottish Power. Backwards-prediction using the GIC transfer functions and observatory magnetic data suggests that GIC at the Scottish Power monitoring sites have amplitudes less than approximately 30A.