It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
According to University of California, Berkeley, and Chinese researchers, a rapid succession of coronal mass ejections – the most intense eruptions on the sun – sent a pulse of magnetized plasma barreling into space and through Earth’s orbit. Had the eruption come nine days earlier, when the ignition spot on the solar surface was aimed at Earth, it would have hit the planet, potentially wreaking havoc with the electrical grid, disabling satellites and GPS, and disrupting our increasingly electronic lives.
“Had it hit Earth, it probably would have been like the big one in 1859, but the effect today, with our modern technologies, would have been tremendous,” said Luhmann, who is part of the STEREO (Solar Terrestrial Observatory) team and based at UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory.
“An extreme space weather storm – a solar superstorm – is a low-probability, high-consequence event that poses severe threats to critical infrastructures of the modern society,” warned Liu, who is with the National Space Science Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. “The cost of an extreme space weather event, if it hits Earth, could reach trillions of dollars with a potential recovery time of 4-10 years. Therefore, it is paramount to the security and economic interest of the modern society to understand solar superstorms.”
I can't believe that more ATSers haven't weighed in on this news. If true, and I am not sure there's any reason it wouldn't be, this could have caused a major shift in life on Earth. I can't even begin to fathom the chaos this would have caused.
And we are learning of this two years later? Anyone? Anyone?
Had the eruption come nine days earlier, when the ignition spot on the solar surface was aimed at Earth, it would have hit the planet, potentially wreaking havoc with the electrical grid, disabling satellites and GPS, and disrupting our increasingly electronic lives.
What is to comment about, it missed us so nothing happened.
Even more ominous is a natural counterpart — think of it as a solar tsunami — that will come our way at some point in the foreseeable future: an intense geomagnetic disturbance (GMD) caused by one of the sun’s periodic, huge coronal mass ejections (solar flares). Such GMDs are known as Carrington Events, and they occur roughly every 150 years. The last one took place 155 years ago.
The difference is that in 1859, the only thing remotely equivalent to modern electric systems and the things they power were telegraph offices, equipment, and wires. And during the Carrington Event of that year, many of them caught fire.
A solar storm of such magnitude these days would, among other things, seriously damage, if not destroy outright, high-voltage transformers that constitute the backbone of the nation’s grid. It is, as a practical matter, impossible promptly to replace these critical pieces of equipment if large numbers of them are taken down at once — ensuring that the power will be off for many months, and probably years, in the affected areas.
Without power for pumped cooling and water replenishment, the spent fuel pools will boil off and the still-hot fuel rods will overheat, catch fire, and disseminate radioactive fallout downwind. The effect would be simply devastating, especially when combined with other, horrific environmental and societal repercussions of blackouts that could last a year or longer.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has acknowledged the implications of the threat posed by intense solar storms, declaring in 2012, “The NRC believes that it is possible that a geomagnetic storm-induced outage could be long-lasting and could last long enough that the onsite supply of fuel for the emergency generators would be exhausted … Accordingly, it is appropriate for the NRC to consider regulatory actions that could be needed to ensure adequate protection of public health and safety during and after a severe geomagnetic storm.”
The bad news is that — despite the evidence revealed in the Center’s compendium entitled Guilty Knowledge, which presents the executive summaries of 11 different government-sponsored studies of grid vulnerability conducted since 2004 — federal authorities have failed to do anything appreciable to protect us from such disasters.
It tore through Earth’s orbit but, luckily, Earth and the other planets were on the other side of the sun at the time.
The fast transit to STEREO A (in only 18.6 h), or the unusually weak deceleration of the event, was caused by the preconditioning of the upstream solar wind by an earlier solar eruption.