21 February 2011

Solar Katrina?



This is straight from the Financial Times

"“Predict and prepare should be the watchwords,” agreed Jane Lubchenco, head of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “So much more of our technology is vulnerable than it was 10 years ago.”

A solar storm starts with an eruption of super-hot gas travelling out from the sun at speeds of up to 5m miles an hour. Electrically charged particles hit earth’s atmosphere 20 to 30 hours later, causing electromagnetic havoc.

Last week’s solar storm may have been the biggest since 2007, but it was relatively small in historical terms.

It caused some radio communications problems and minor disruption of civil aviation as airlines routed flights away from the polar regions, said Dr Lubchenco.

A more extreme storm can shut down communications satellites for many hours – or even cause permanent damage to their components. On the ground, the intense magnetic fluctuations can induce surges in power lines, leading to grid failures such as the one that blacked out the whole of Quebec in 1989...."



To read entire article, go to link above

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