Solar Flare: What If Biggest Known Sun Storm Hit Today?
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of NationalGeographic.com
Posted: March 27th, 2012
A powerful sun stormassociated with the second biggest solar flare of the current 11-year sun cycleis now hitting Earth, so far with few consequences. But the potentially "severe geomagnetic storm," in NASA's words, could disrupt power grids, radio communications, and GPS as well as spark dazzling auroras. The storm ... won't hold a candle to an 1859 space-weather event, scientists sayand it's a good thing too. If a similar sun storm were to occur in the current dayas it well couldmodern life could come to a standstill, they add. That storm has been dubbed the Carrington Event, after British astronomer Richard Carrington, who witnessed the megaflare and was the first to realize the link between activity on the sun and geomagnetic disturbances on Earth. During the Carrington Event, northern lights were reported as far south as Cuba and Honolulu, while southern lights were seen as far north as Santiago, Chile. The flares were so powerful that "people in the northeastern U.S. could read newspaper print just from the light of the aurora," Daniel Baker, of the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, said at a geophysics meeting in December 2010. In addition, the geomagnetic disturbances were strong enough that U.S. telegraph operators reported sparks leaping from their equipmentsome bad enough to set fires, said Ed Cliver, a space physicist at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory in Bedford, Massachusetts. If something similar happened today, the world's high-tech infrastructure could grind to a halt.
Note: For more on this, click here and here. The first article talks about the vulnerability of the world's nuclear reactors to such a storm. If telegraph systems failed in the solar storm of 1859, how much damage do you think such a storm would do to our modern electronics? And why aren't more people talking about this?