Space weather analysts predict a massive solar storm to reach Earth in the near future. How prepared is the world for the worst case scenarios?
A report released by the US Department of Homeland Security predicts that within the first 72 hours of a massive solar storm, millions of people will suffer from its crippling effects, in the US alone.
This study was preformed by John Kappenman and William Radasky, two of the top researchers in the field of space weather for the National Research Council. The extensive report claims that a minimum of 100 million Americans may suffer from the outcome of a mass disruption of the power grid, due to the powerful magnetic exhaust expelled from the Sun. Not only does the report predict a large-scale power failure of Earth’s electric grid, but also devastating failure to the infrastructure of the US, as well as the world.
A large-scale ‘G-5’ class solar storm would induce electronic failure of cataclysmic proportions on Earth as well on non-terrestrial utilities ; for example, a ‘G-5’ class storm would incite the disruption of satellites, airplanes, communications cables and fuel distribution. It is speculated that these events will set off a domino effect, knocking out the capabilities of electronic devices that a large portion of the modern world relies on.
What are Solar Storms
Solar Flares are massive flashing blasts that occur on the surface of the sun. These violent eruptions consisting of light and energy are equivalent to the force of 500, 20 kilo-ton atomic bombs being detonated simultaneously. These flares are often followed by a colossal coronal mass ejection; spewing electronic, ionic and atomic fallout. It is this fallout from the coronal mass ejection that creates the terrestrial and non-terrestrial electronic disturbances.
The Carrignton Event and the 1989 Geomagnetic Storm
The Carrington Event was a solar event occurring over the end of August and the beginning of September in 1859. A coronal mass ejection bombarded the Earth’s magnetosphere with electronic, ionic and atomic fallout, creating one of the largest geomagnetic storms to ever be recorded on Earth.The geomagnetic storm was reported to be visually fantastic, but to have been the cause of a massive failure to a large portions of the world’s telegraph capabilities.
The super flare of the Carrington Event was first noted to be observed by a pair of English amateur astronomers, Richard Carrington and Richard Hodgson on August 28, 1859. Over the next two days the majority of telegraph systems in Europe and North America were knocked out; some instances of mild electric shock on the communication systems operators had been reported at the the apex of the flare.
A similar, but superior event occurred in 1989 , inducing a wave of cold war paranoia that engulfed the US. The first indications of the geomagnetic storm produced by the Sun was noted on March 6, and within 7 days the storms solar winds reached the Earth’s magnetosphere. Once again this solar eruption produced a very significant negative impact on north America, the most substantial being a complete shut-down of the Canadian city of Quebec’s hydro-electric transmission system.