Thursday, April 10, 2014

LA Times on a Recent Coronal Mass Ejection AKA a Carrington Event

It could have been Deep Kim Chee time if it had taken place a bit over a week earlier: It would have hit Earth and done trillions of dollars damage, plunging much of Earth into darkness.
Earth barely missed the "perfect solar storm" that could have smashed into our magnetic field and wreaked havoc with our satellite systems, electronics and power systems, potentially causing trillions of dollars in damage, according to data from NASA’s STEREO-A spacecraft...

...according to a study in the journal Nature Communications....It's a good thing this incredible blast wasn't pointed at us, scientists said....

"This record solar wind speed and magnetic field would have generated the most severe geomagnetic storm since the beginning of the space era, if the event had hit the Earth," the study authors wrote."...

If the solar onslaught had occurred just nine days earlier, it would have rivaled the 1859 Carrington event, a solar storm that zapped the telegraph system, delivering shocks to telegraph operators, and triggering aurorae -- a typically polar light show in the sky -- as close to the equator as Hawaii and the Caribbean. Today, such a storm would have caused far more damage in our now highly wired world, utterly dependent on electronics. (As further comparison, a much weaker geomagnetic storm in 1989 caused Quebec’s power grid to fail.)
More in the LA Times here. You can find a Lloyd's report, "SOLAR STORM RISK TO THE NORTH AMERICAN ELECTRIC GRID" here. There is another article, with many hard to see dark blue text links here.

Possibly it is time to crawl under the staircase, curl up in a ball,and suck one's thumb.

Or be at least somewhat prepared for a variety of issues, some of which are not hugely probable but pretty nasty if the do occur.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Sam said...

I would just point out that "near catastrophe" is newsworthy, while "non-catastrophe" is not. The earth is 8000 miles wide, 92 million miles from the sun. If the sun sends out a solar storm in a random direction, it's like duck hunting with a blindfold on. It's not impossible to hit something, it's just not very likely.

Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 8:31:00 PM HST  
Blogger TTB said...

Well, Sam, we have already been hit multiple times, so the ducks must be flocking pretty thickly.

While there are some important questions unresolved about just how bad another Carrington-type Event might affect us, there does seem to be reason for legitimate interest, and some concern.

Monday, April 14, 2014 at 3:10:00 PM HST  

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