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Karlis

Carrington Event = a huge solar storm

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The largest recorded solar storm on record happened in 1859

On August 26, 1859, the Sun had thrown a few billion tonnes of super-hot gas directly at the Earth. The impact with the Earth's magnetic field and the upper atmosphere was so huge, that over the next few days people saw auroras, not just near the poles, but as close as 25° to the equator.

In addition, there were major hiccups in the Earth's magnetic field and huge amounts of noise in the telegraph system, so much noise that it took 14 hours to send a mere 400 words. However, as is the nature of such things, it all began to wind down.

But, on 1 September, 1859, Richard Carrington saw enormous sunspots on the Sun, so huge that they were easily visible without a telescope.

Suddenly, at 11:18am, they flared into an unexpected and white-hot fury. He didn't know it, but another super-hurricane of super-hot — and super-fast — gas had just been thrown at the Earth.

About 17 hours later, travelling at 2380 kilometres per second, it hit.

Nobody had ever described auroras like these. They were so bright that people awoke at 1:00am thinking that the dawn was coming.

The auroras threw shadows, and you could read tiny print by their light. They got to within 18° of the Equator, being easily visible in Hawai'i and Panama.

Charged particles almost instantly destroyed five per cent of the ozone in the atmosphere, and the ozone took four years to recover.

The magnetic storm set off huge currents in the ground, which invaded the long telegraph lines. Telegraph operators were nearly electrocuted dead by the long, violent sparks erupting from the handsets. And several telegraph stations burnt down.

If the Carrington Event happened today, nearly 10 per cent of the 1000-or-so working satellites in orbit would stop working. That's an immediate $100 billion cost right there.

...

Now the electrical grids around the world are mostly old, fragile and overloaded. In the USA alone, minor solar storms already cause breakdowns to the grid that increase the cost of electricity by $500 million every 18 months.

But a Carrington Event, when the Sun had a major hissy fit, would kill the entire electrical grid of North America.

Source

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... As electronic technologies have become more sophisticated and more embedded into everyday life, they have also become more vulnerable to solar activity. On Earth, power lines and long-distance telephone cables might be affected by auroral currents, as happened in 1989. Radar, cell phone communications, and GPS receivers could be disrupted by solar radio noise. Experts who have studied the question say there is little to be done to protect satellites from a Carrington-class flare. In fact, a recent paper estimates potential damage to the 900-plus satellites currently in orbit could cost between $30 billion and $70 billion. The best solution, they say: have a pipeline of comsats ready for launch. Source

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I'm hoping it doesn't happen. It could bring life as we know it to a stand still. I bet it would be a long time before things were restored too. I would hate to be in the middle of having surgery when this happened. I don't know if back up generators would even work.

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There are so many catastrophes that could happen to this planet we are fortunate nothing really big has happened.

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This event will happen. The cartrington event was an X85 solar event. But it can get much larger. Even to the tune of blowing every lightbulb out on earth X100 or even an X200. Ice core samples show that they happen on average about every 500 years but it's a fairly random distribution. The math works out to about a 5 % chance every solar max. That's about a 35% chance in a normal lifetime.

The funny thing is that it would be better if it happened now. We are still connected to our roots enough to eek out a recovery. 200 years from now it will be a different story.

The scary thing is that noone seems to pay attention to what a prolonged grid shut douwn will do to our nuclear power plants. with computer circuits potentially blown out, and no availability of disel fuel, those plants will melt down inside of a month......all of them...

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I'd be fine if it happened sure some comforts would be gone but I'd survive(Woot for having hobbies that I that are actually useful in an event like this)

The scary thing is that noone seems to pay attention to what a prolonged grid shut douwn will do to our nuclear power plants. with computer circuits potentially blown out, and no availability of disel fuel, those plants will melt down inside of a month......all of them...

It's not about paying attention, it's about not worrying about it. If I lingered on that stuff I wouldn't be able to make it through the day because of a what if. I know it's idiotic not to prepare but there is literally nothing I could do to prevent it anyway and besides If you do make people aware well you will come off as the crazy guy screaming doomsday prophecies.

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It's just another example of how we build our houses on sand isn't it?

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I would be worried for those who hang on to technology. They'll break down in the streets.

Good thing drawing doesn't require electricity. :D

A solar flare that would kill the grid will cripple any first-world country.

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