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Earth Unprepared for Super Solar Storm


By by Mike Wall – “Humanity needs to be much better prepared for massive solar storms, which can wreak havoc on our technology-dependent society, a prominent researcher warns.

Powerful blasts from the sun have triggered intense geomagnetic storms on Earth before, and they’ll do so again. But at the moment our ability to predict these events and guard against their worst consequences — which can include interruptions of power grids and satellite navigation systems — is lacking, says Mike Hapgood of the British research and technology agency RAL Space.

‘We need a much better understanding of the likelihood of space weather disruptions and their impacts, and we need to develop that knowledge quickly,’ Hapgood, head of RAL Space’s space environment group, writes in a commentary in the April 19 issue of the journal Nature.

Potentially devastating storms

The solar storms we need to worry about, Hapgood says, are coronal mass ejections, huge clouds of charged solar plasma that can rocket into space at speeds of 3 million mph (5 million kilometers per hour) or more.

CMEs that hit Earth inject large amounts of energy into the planet’s magnetic field, spawning potentially devastating geomagnetic storms that can disrupt GPS signals, radio communications and power grids for days…

‘If we had a repeat of the Carrington event, I would expect several days of economic and social mayhem as many critical technological systems failed – e.g., localized power grid failures in many countries, widespread loss of GPS signals for navigation and timing, disruption of communications systems, shutdown of long-haul aviation,’ Hapgood told SPACE.com via email.

And the short-term problems caused by such a storm could pale in comparison with its long-term impact, he added.” Read more.

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