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An international panel of experts led by NOAA and sponsored by NASA has released a new prediction for the next solar cycle. Solar Cycle 24 will peak, they say, in May 2013 with a below-average number of sunspots
It is tempting to describe such a cycle as "weak" or "mild," but that could give the wrong impression
Even a below-average cycle is capable of producing severe space weather," points out Biesecker. "The great geomagnetic storm of 1859, for instance, occurred during a solar cycle of about the same size we’re predicting for 2013
The Superintendent of the Canadian Telegraph Company's line telegraphs as follows in relation to the effect of the Aurora Borealis last night: '…so completely were the wires under the influence of the Aurora Borealis, that it was found utterly impossible to communicate between the telegraph stations, and the line had to be closed.' The same difficulty prevailed as far South as Washington
This list of countries by electricity consumption is mostly based on The World Factbook. For informational purposes several non-sovereign entities are also included in this list. In addition, the per capita data for many countries may be slightly inaccurate as population data may not be for the same year that the consumption data are. Population data were obtained from the List of countries by population in 2005, except for years other than 2005, in which case they were obtained from the Wikipedia pages for the corresponding countries/territories
Like food, water and air, electricity has become one of life's necessities for much of the world. We have all too often taken the supply of high-quality electricity for granted, believing that it would just always be there--the signs of a true utility. Recent events now make this assumption much more precarious than ever before
The enormous electrical blackout on Thursday, August 14, 2003 shut down just about everything--including air conditioning, air and rail travel, cellular and telephone access, and Internet services--in what's been referred to as the largest power blackout in history to hit the northeastern U.S. and southeastern Canada
The cycle's victims could include space satellites. The coming storms could heat the upper levels of Earth's atmosphere, causing it to expand and exert drag on low-flying satellites -- perhaps enough drag to tug some of them back to Earth. Solar storms have been blamed for the U.S. Skylab space station's premature fall back to Earth in 1979
Air travelers could be affected, too. Since the end of the Cold War, to avoid headwinds, airlines have increasingly flown subpolar routes to get between the United States and other Northern Hemisphere continents quickly and cheaply. But during solar storms, they must avoid the poles and fly more southerly routes.
Ice cores show evidence that events of similar intensity recur at an average rate of approximately once per 500 years. Since 1859, less severe storms have occurred in 1921 and 1960, when widespread radio disruption was reported.
This would provide more time to power down satellites and electrical grids, which can be damaged by these storms