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Getting Ready for the Next Big Solar Storm
NASA Science News ^ | June 21, 2011 | NASA

Posted on 06/22/2011 8:57:15 AM PDT by tired&retired

In Sept. 1859, on the eve of a below-average1 solar cycle, the sun unleashed one of the most powerful storms in centuries. The underlying flare was so unusual, researchers still aren't sure how to categorize it. The blast peppered Earth with the most energetic protons in half-a-millennium, induced electrical currents that set telegraph offices on fire, and sparked Northern Lights over Cuba and Hawaii.

This week, officials have gathered at the National Press Club in Washington DC to ask themselves a simple question: What if it happens again?

Modern power grids are vulnerable to solar storms. Photo credit: Martin Stojanovski "A similar storm today might knock us for a loop," says Lika Guhathakurta, a solar physicist at NASA headquarters. "Modern society depends on high-tech systems such as smart power grids, GPS, and satellite communications--all of which are vulnerable to solar storms."

In 2011 the situation would be more serious. An avalanche of blackouts carried across continents by long-distance power lines could last for weeks to months as engineers struggle to repair damaged transformers. Planes and ships couldn’t trust GPS units for navigation. Banking and financial networks might go offline, disrupting commerce in a way unique to the Information Age. According to a 2008 report from the National Academy of Sciences, a century-class solar storm could have the economic impact of 20 hurricane Katrinas.

(Excerpt) Read more at science.nasa.gov ...


TOPICS: Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: doom; nasa; solar; solarstorm; storm
I've been following this for over 20 years. A storm like this will be hell on electronically stored data. Remember the magnetic cassette tape erasers we used to wipe data from tapes?
1 posted on 06/22/2011 8:57:22 AM PDT by tired&retired
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To: tired&retired
There is obviously a greenhouse-gas connection here.

If only we would abolish fossil fuels, this problem would be solved.

2 posted on 06/22/2011 9:01:51 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (If Sarah Palin really was unelectable, state-run media would be begging the GOP to nominate her.)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

“There is obviously a greenhouse-gas connection here.”

Sadly, I agree. NASA has transformed from a shining example of excellence, and an authoritative source of information to an AGW pimp and muslim outreach center.


3 posted on 06/22/2011 9:05:02 AM PDT by brownsfan (I miss the America I grew up in.)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

With James Hanson writing the report.


4 posted on 06/22/2011 9:05:17 AM PDT by HollyB
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To: tired&retired

The Sun Does a Flip
NASA scientists who monitor the Sun say that our star’s awesome magnetic field is flipping — a sure sign that solar maximum is here.

http://science1.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2001/ast15feb_1/

And then read.....

Earth’s Inconstant Magnetic Field: Our planet’s magnetic field is in a constant state of change, say researchers who are beginning to understand how it behaves and why.

http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/lookingatearth/29dec_magneticfield.html

Then try to get a good nights sleep!!!!


5 posted on 06/22/2011 9:05:17 AM PDT by tired&retired
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
The green weenies will state that if hadn't been for the burning of fossil fuels and CO2 emissions, the earths atmosphere would have shielded all the electronics form the solar flare.

Wanna take that bet?

6 posted on 06/22/2011 9:06:34 AM PDT by sniper63 (Ever wonder why they call themselves Hamas, but don't eat pork?)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
The green weenies will state that if hadn't been for the burning of fossil fuels and CO2 emissions, the earths atmosphere would have shielded all the electronics form the solar flare.

Wanna take that bet?

7 posted on 06/22/2011 9:06:38 AM PDT by sniper63 (Ever wonder why they call themselves Hamas, but don't eat pork?)
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To: tired&retired
In 2011 the situation would be more serious. An avalanche of blackouts carried across continents by long-distance power lines could last for weeks to months as engineers struggle to repair damaged transformers. Planes and ships couldn’t trust GPS units for navigation. Banking and financial networks might go offline, disrupting commerce in a way unique to the Information Age. According to a 2008 report from the National Academy of Sciences, a century-class solar storm could have the economic impact of 20 hurricane Katrinas.

"You don't say! Why, how could we possibly have elections in 2012 if this...uhh...national disaster were to occur? Hmmm..."


8 posted on 06/22/2011 9:06:54 AM PDT by COBOL2Java (Obama is the least qualified guy in whatever room he walks into.)
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To: tired&retired

Maybe it will be good for 6M ham operators?


9 posted on 06/22/2011 9:07:16 AM PDT by battlecry
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To: brownsfan

This data has been on the NASA web site for almost 20 years. I first read it in the early 1990’s.

Read the articles and then pass your judgements. Go to the Canadian Geophysics web site and see how the magnetic north pole makes an 85 kilometer per day circular wobble, as it moves across Canada. The diameter of the wobble is based upon the intensity of solar storms.

I find this whole filed of knowledge very interesting.


10 posted on 06/22/2011 9:10:08 AM PDT by tired&retired
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To: tired&retired

And the only thing that will prevent these dire predictions of global calamity from happening is money. BTW you science fiction/propaganda guys at NASA, you might want to actually name the Carrington Event by name to sound at least a little authoratative.


11 posted on 06/22/2011 9:11:35 AM PDT by SpaceBar
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To: SpaceBar

“you might want to actually name the Carrington Event by name to sound at least a little authoratative”

They do if you read the article: “As 2011 unfolds, the sun is once again on the eve of a below-average solar cycle—at least that’s what forecasters are saying. The “Carrington event” of 1859 (named after astronomer Richard Carrington, who witnessed the instigating flare) reminds us that strong storms can occur even when the underlying cycle is nominally weak.”


12 posted on 06/22/2011 9:13:52 AM PDT by tired&retired
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

Where’s the Not This S... Again picture?


13 posted on 06/22/2011 9:19:48 AM PDT by satan (Plumbing new depths of worthlessness on a daily basis.)
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To: tired&retired
"I find this whole field of knowledge very interesting."

Pun intended? (There's no such thing as a bad pun.)

Sorry, I agree, there is so much unknown about the sun, and our own magnetosphere. I just took the opportunity to once again express my disgust with what has happened to NASA. As a kid, I saw NASA as an organization of geniuses and heroes.

Today... not so much.
14 posted on 06/22/2011 9:20:44 AM PDT by brownsfan (I miss the America I grew up in.)
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To: tired&retired

but....but...but.... we were just informed this week that we are entering an ice age due to low solar activity....


15 posted on 06/22/2011 9:22:22 AM PDT by joe fonebone (Project Gunwalker, this will make watergate look like the warm up band......)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

Crap! Are the Martians on the sun with SUVs now?? We must stop them!


16 posted on 06/22/2011 9:26:41 AM PDT by WKUHilltopper (Fix bayonets!)
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To: brownsfan

” As a kid, I saw NASA as an organization of geniuses and heroes.

Today... not so much.”

I agree with you. It is now way to political.

No pun intended.... Just a plain old typo. Never expected to do my own typing when growing up. Always had secretaries take dictation! I now regret that!


17 posted on 06/22/2011 9:31:01 AM PDT by tired&retired
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To: tired&retired

What if it doesn’t happen?


18 posted on 06/22/2011 9:32:41 AM PDT by Paladin2
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To: joe fonebone

“but....but...but.... we were just informed this week that we are entering an ice age due to low solar activity....”

Maybe the sun pulls its energy back just prior to a big explosion. Kind of like the water on the beach at the ocean just prior to a sunami.


19 posted on 06/22/2011 9:34:08 AM PDT by tired&retired
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To: tired&retired

What if the Earth’s magnetic field flips tomorrow?


20 posted on 06/22/2011 9:35:28 AM PDT by Paladin2
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To: brownsfan
As a kid, I saw NASA as an organization of geniuses and heroes.

Because, in many respects, they were.

Today... not so much.

Yep.

21 posted on 06/22/2011 9:37:21 AM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing.)
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To: Paladin2
“What if it doesn’t happen?”

I think that is what New Orleans said about a hurricane hitting them!!!

There are definite patterns in the solar changes that repeat themselves... that's why they call them solar “cycles.”

22 posted on 06/22/2011 9:37:41 AM PDT by tired&retired
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To: tired&retired

You can’t be SIRIUS!


23 posted on 06/22/2011 9:38:22 AM PDT by Beowulf9
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To: tired&retired
"There are definite patterns in the solar changes"

Tell that to the solar scientists who were busy predicting and repredicting Cycle 24, getting it wrong each time after time.

24 posted on 06/22/2011 9:41:32 AM PDT by Paladin2
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To: Paladin2

“What if the Earth’s magnetic field flips tomorrow?”

If you read about the sun flipping every cycle, it is not a “flip” per se. It first loses it’s dipolar field strength, goes into chaos, (that’s when the coronal mass ejections peak) and then reorganizes in a reverse polarity.

The earth does the same thing in a polar shift. It is the reason for all the earthquakes and volcanic activity during the reversal. If you want to read a real interesting article, read the NASA one I linked above that shows the field reversal patterns found on both sides of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The current bandwidth is greater than normal which suggests we are past due for a change. They used magnetometers from ships, measuring the polarity of the iron ore deposits in the ocean floor. They found that when the molten lava flowed, the deposits aligned with the polarity at that time, and when the lava solidified, it locked the pattern. By measuring the widths of the bands of each polarity field and contrasting it with the rate of movement of the plates, they could tell approximately how many years between polarity reversals.


25 posted on 06/22/2011 10:02:39 AM PDT by tired&retired
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To: tired&retired
I wouldn't snarf at the whole idea here, though weirdos could try to use it for bad purposes. We know that the Carrington event in 1859 really did happen, setting telegraph offices on fire because of the effect on long, electrically charged wires. Look around the country and world today, and we have LOTS of -- long, electircally charged wires (and, bigger, longer, and more electrically charged than in 1859).

Like Y2K, it wouldn't be the end of the world, but, like Y2K, it's good to do some serious thinking and planning about how to deal with it, if and when it comes.

26 posted on 06/22/2011 10:08:16 AM PDT by BohDaThone
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To: Paladin2

“Tell that to the solar scientists who were busy predicting and repredicting Cycle 24, getting it wrong each time after time.”

The damage is compounded by the weakness in the earth’s magnetosphere which protects us from the CME’s.

Per Wikipedia: It is predicted that Solar Cycle 24 will peak in May 2013 with about 58[4] sunspots. This would make it the least active cycle since solar cycle 6, which ended in the year 1823.

“NASA Solar Cycle Sunspot Number Predictions as of Feb 2011
The 2008 breach of Earth’s magnetic shield: According to NASA, the intensity of geomagnetic storms during Solar Cycle 24 may be elevated in some areas where the Earth’s magnetic field is weaker than expected. This fact was discovered by the THEMIS spacecraft in 2008.[5][6] A 20-fold increase in particle counts that penetrate the Earth’s magnetic field may be expected.[7]

5.^ “Giant Breach in Earth’s Magnetic Field Discovered”. NASA. 2008-12-16. http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2008/16dec_giantbreach/. Retrieved 2010-05-29.
6.^ Phillips, Tony (2010-06-14). “As the Sun Awakens, NASA Keeps a Wary Eye on Space Weather”. Science@NASA. http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2010/04jun_swef/. Retrieved 2010-06-15.
7.^ Thompson, Andrea (2008-12-16). “Leaks Found in Earth’s Protective Magnetic Field”. SPACE.com. http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/081216-agu-solar-storm-shield-break.html. Retrieved 2010-06-02. “As it orbited Earth, THEMIS’s five spacecraft were able to estimate the thickness of the band of solar particles coming when the fields were aligned — it turned out to be about 20 times the number that got in when the fields were anti-aligned.”


27 posted on 06/22/2011 10:10:53 AM PDT by tired&retired
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To: tired&retired

“Remember the magnetic cassette tape erasers we used to wipe data from tapes?”

Remember Faraday cages and electronic circuit breakers?


28 posted on 06/22/2011 10:45:30 AM PDT by Justa
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To: tired&retired
"we are past due for a change."

Same with the onset of the next ice age.

29 posted on 06/22/2011 11:57:43 AM PDT by Paladin2
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To: Paladin2

I’m not worried... All my hard drives are wrapped in tin foil.


30 posted on 06/22/2011 11:59:42 AM PDT by Frank Sheed (Fr. V. R. Capodanno, Lt, USN, Catholic Chaplain. 3rd/5th, 1st Marine Div., FMF. MOH, posthumously.)
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To: tired&retired
I don't have any problems sleeping at night.

I am somewhat prepared for calamity and working on better preparations (Be Prepared - words to live by as it turns out).

My progeny are well launched and at least knowledgeable about bad things that can happen (even if not well prepared). Working against the current forces of gov't, I work to be as self sufficient as possible and am always learning new skilz.

31 posted on 06/22/2011 12:06:10 PM PDT by Paladin2
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To: Frank Sheed

That reminds me that I need to turn my computer “lab” into a Faraday Cage and do normal surfing outside the “box”.


32 posted on 06/22/2011 12:08:00 PM PDT by Paladin2
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To: Paladin2

My hat is off to you..... Ditto here.

It’s hard to see the forest when you are inside, but from the outside, things are pretty clear.

The most important thing is.. No Fear... As it clouds the mind.


33 posted on 06/22/2011 3:03:48 PM PDT by tired&retired
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To: Paladin2

“That reminds me that I need to turn my computer “lab” into a Faraday Cage “

I did that 20 years ago... 30’ X 50’ with rebar cage on 16” centers, welded at all cross points and then sandwiched with heavy concrete mesh. All imbedded in 12” concrete and underground. Didn’t do it as a Faraday cage. My engineer friends told me that the overhead pour of concrete would not work so I built it as a bridge with steel beams under it on 16” centers.

I was just building an energy efficient home on my farm and concrete and steel was cheaper than wood. Having done a lot of concrete work as a contractor in the past, the price was a bulk purchase of 200+ yards of concrete and I managed to find the rebar and steel beams in a scrap yard. I put an R-40 foam on the concrete prior to backfill so the walls, floor and ceiling all stay at inside air temp. Never, ever thought it might come in handy some day.


34 posted on 06/22/2011 3:26:38 PM PDT by tired&retired
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