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New report calls for solar storm safeguards

Posted on Saturday, 1 August, 2015 | Comment icon 9 comments

Solar storms have the potential to be highly disruptive. Image Credit: NASA/SDO
Researchers have revealed that we may only learn of an approaching solar storm twelve hours in advance.
The last time a coronal mass ejection from the sun hit the Earth was in 1859, a time long before computers, airplanes, mobile phones and many of the other things that we now take for granted.

These days however a large solar storm has the potential to wreak havoc - so much so that the UK government has released a new report designed to assess the impact that such an event could have and to determine what should be done to mitigate the damage as much as possible.

One of the biggest concerns put forward by the report is that, while detection of an approaching storm is possible, the detection time may simply be insufficient to prepare for it.

"Generally speaking, the faster the ejection, the greater the potential impacts," the report authors wrote. "The Carrington event (of 1859), for example, travelled to Earth in as little as 18 hours."

"It is therefore likely that our reasonable worst case scenario would only allow us 12 hours from observation to impact."

The report also emphasized the need for more effective contingency plans and safeguards.

"Much more needs to be done to encourage potentially vulnerable sectors to adopt measures to mitigate the likely impacts," it states. "Preparation is needed to the national level, with the support of local capabilities to deal with the consequences. This all requires international co-ordination."

Source: | Comments (9)

Tags: Solar Storm, Space Weather

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by pallidin on 1 August, 2015, 22:11
We do indeed, it appears, have a significantly fragile electrical infrastructure, on so many levels.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Infernal Gnu on 2 August, 2015, 2:36
Time to deploy some force field generators in orbit around the earth.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Junior Chubb on 3 August, 2015, 9:37
Why does this remind me of the Millenium Bug but this time with no end date to curb the spending on safety measures.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Taun on 3 August, 2015, 15:37
The cost to emp shield the entire electronic/data field of the Earth, might be so high it would actually be cheaper to just let a solar flare hit us.. and then repair the damage...
Comment icon #5 Posted by BeastieRunner on 3 August, 2015, 17:39
So ... you have 12 hours to backup your data and unplug it? Seems reasonable.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Zalmoxis on 7 August, 2015, 22:31
Here's a National Geographic article published in 2011 that outlines what would happen to our infrastructure if a storm of equal power as the one in 1859 were to happen in this era.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Noteverythingisaconspiracy on 7 August, 2015, 23:13
Time to deploy some force field generators in orbit around the earth. Great idea, except for two reasons: 1: We don't have force field generators 2: We don't have force field generators I know it was the same reason twice, but I just felt that it was such a big flaw in the solution that it meritted being repeated !
Comment icon #8 Posted by Doug1o29 on 10 August, 2015, 17:57
Here's an opportunity: Buy up as many computers as you can afford and store them in a Faraday cage. If we get an electromagnetic pulse (the sun, nuclear bomb, etc.) those computers will be worth a fortune. Doug
Comment icon #9 Posted by Noteverythingisaconspiracy on 10 August, 2015, 22:13
Here's an opportunity: Buy up as many computers as you can afford and store them in a Faraday cage. If we get an electromagnetic pulse (the sun, nuclear bomb, etc.) those computers will be worth a fortune. Doug Thats actually a pretty good idea.

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