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Solar 'super-storms' could be catastrophic


Posted on Friday, 1 August, 2014 | Comment icon 13 comments

Solar storms could be devastating to modern day society. Image Credit: NASA/Steele Hill
A particularly violent solar storm could one day have disasterous consequences for the modern world.
While huge solar storms don't tend to hit us very often, their potential to disrupt power and communications systems across the globe has been an ongoing concern.

The last time this happened was 150 years ago when a particularly damaging storm, known as the Carrington Event after the astronomer who observed the preceding solar flare, produced a coronal mass ejection with the equivalent energy of 10 billion Hiroshima bombs.

At the time the world's electronic infrastructure consisted of little more than telegraph lines, but if it were to happen again today in a world dominated by wireless communications and electronic devices the effects could prove to be catastrophic.

"Without power, people would struggle to fuel their cars at petrol stations, get money from cash dispensers or pay online," said Ashley Dale from the University of Bristol. "Water and sewage systems would be affected too, meaning that health epidemics in urbanized areas would quickly take a grip, with diseases we thought we had left behind centuries ago soon returning."

According to scientists these solar super-storms occur around once every 150 years meaning that one is now worryingly overdue. Some predict that the chance of another storm hitting us within the next decade could be as high as 12%.

Source: University of Bristol | Comments (13)

Tags: Solar, Sun

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by Missile Punch on 1 August, 2014, 19:33
Well... Back to the stone ages then. Let's go clubbing.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Hobbit Feet on 1 August, 2014, 20:30
Nature has the right to purge.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Ashyne on 1 August, 2014, 21:47
I will eagerly anticipate the spectacular CME coming soon.
Comment icon #7 Posted by alfonso on 1 August, 2014, 22:44
a bet it would be a great way to go.. a spectacular light show though before the very end.... ha
Comment icon #8 Posted by Drfeelgood11 on 4 August, 2014, 5:01
With as much technology we have now i doubt it would be real dertrimental...and with the over populated world we live....it might not be a bad thing. Sorry if any take offense to that.
Comment icon #9 Posted by coolguy on 4 August, 2014, 5:12
Cant Waite to go back to the flintstone era, all this technogly stinks
Comment icon #10 Posted by maximusnow on 6 August, 2014, 18:38
It puts the foil on its head.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Doug1o29 on 6 August, 2014, 18:56
I will eagerly anticipate the spectacular CME coming soon. A major EMP could wipe out all electricity, telecommunications and fry electrical devices. No power for lights or to run your computer or to pump your water. Your car wouldn't run because its computer was toast and even if you own a 1970s vintage car, your couldn't get gas for it because the pumps couldn't get power. No way for farmers to get fuel for their equipment, or to get crops to market if they did. And no way to process those crops into food. And no way to get them to you. No water to drink, no food to eat and no way to get awa... [More]
Comment icon #12 Posted by kidagakash on 13 August, 2014, 18:04
With as much technology we have now i doubt it would be real dertrimental...and with the over populated world we live....it might not be a bad thing. Sorry if any take offense to that. Unless shielded from the EM shockwave in a faraday cage or some other means you can kiss all that technology goodbye. Did you ever read about the 19th century's storm that melted telegraph wires?
Comment icon #13 Posted by Oppono Astos on 13 August, 2014, 20:43
Read up on the Carrington Event of 1859, and how a similar event would affect today's over-reliance on technology


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