Once again we see warnings of massive solar flares as the sun moves into its active phase. Solar flares are a regular occurrence and have been happening since the dawn of time. Generally they don’t cause much harm.
The problem with solar flares in today’s world, is the effect that solar flares can have on our modern technology.
A group of scientists have put the world on alert that a massive solar flare could happen within the next two years that could harm power grids, communications, and satellites around the world. The scientists say that the risk of a massive flare that could harm systems on the earth increase as the sun reaches the peak of its 10-year activity cycle. The scientists say “governments are taking it very seriously.”
According to scientist Mike Hapgood, who specializes in space weather at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, solar storms are more commonly being placed on national risk registers used for disaster planning along with events such as tsunamis and volcanic eruption. Hapgood warns that while solar flares are rare, when they happen consequences on earth could be catastrophic. Magnetically-charged plasma thrown from the surface of the sun can have a significant impact on earth.
The chance of a massive solar storm is about 12% for every decade. According to the scientists, the last major solar storm was over 150 years ago, and the odds say that a massive solar storm occurs approximately once in every 100 years. The fear is that these massive solar storms could melt transformers within national power grids, destroy or damage satellites, knockout radio communications, and more….More at Scientists warn massive solar flare could harm power grid and satellites – SlashGear
- Did ‘Solar Storms’ Cause India’s Massive Blackout? – New York Times (blog)
- Huge sunspot fires off intense solar flare (video) – CBS News
What are Solar Flares? Dr James Webb explains solar flares in the following clip.
Solar Flares or Coronal Mass Ejections create a huge explosion of charged particles that head out into space at high velocity. Normally the ejections head in a different direction away from the earth.
The problems occur when one of these explosions is focused straight at our planet. The earths magnetic field repulses the particles and this reaction is the cause of the northern lights or aurora borealis.
Increased numbers of solar flares have become common at the moment, as the sun’s normal 11-year activity cycle is ramping up.
In July, the sun emitted its strongest solar flare of the summer, causing vivid aurora borealis, or northern lights, in parts of southern Canada and northern United States. Also in July, the sun emitted a medium-intensity flare believed to be the reason for India’s worst power outage in history.
According to James R. Webb, astronomy professor in the Department of Physics, solar flares are a pretty common occurrence, typically occurring in cycles. The current cycle is expected to peak in 2013.
“A magnetic disturbance in the sun sends a stream of high-energy charged particles off into space at high velocities,” Webb said. “Only a small portion of these particles actually hits Earth, most go off into space away from Earth.”…More at Solar flares increase in appearances, intensity
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