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article imageScientists Declare Disastrous Solar Storms Could Occur in 2012

By Carol Forsloff     May 29, 2009 in Environment
Are solar storms posing a threat to the modern world? If we are to believe the scientists at the 2009 space weather enterprise forum in Washington DC we should at least prepare for them. Presently we are not.
Inside Science discusses the conference recently held by scientists where patterns of catastrophic solar storms both past and predicted were reviewed. One event they examined was the legendary Carrington event which was a series of magnetic storms from the sun that hit the Earth in 1859. These storms disrupted telegraph lines across the United States and turned the night skies into day reportedly as far south as the Caribbean.
Again in 1921 another solar storm had such intense power it shocked scientists of the time. The one that occurred in March of 1989 blacked out the entire power grid in Québec Canada in less than two minutes. The solar storm in 2003 caused a massive blackout in the northeastern part of the United States creating $10 billion with damage to electrical systems. Therefore problems created by solar storms are not myths and stories but indeed possibilities based upon ongoing historical events. Scientists believe countries need to be prepared for problems. The United States and Canada have been two countries at the forefront of assessing these concerns.
Scientists declare that if another Carrington event occurred, the consequences would be extremely serious in the modern world because it would severely disrupt oil and gas supplies, emergency and Government services the banking systems finance and transportation. Scientists estimate the damage could run into the trillions of dollars. Large solar storms, could literally put millions of lives at risk. George Mason University social scientist Todd Laporte maintains that preparation should be in place for a storm four to ten times the one that occurred in 1989 that blacked out Québec.
Public education, according to scientists, is essential to developing and implementing a plan to mitigate the damage from a future extreme solar storm. The problem, however, they declare is that too much publicity may bring disaster fatigue.
Solar storms may be infrequent, but according to the National Research Council they are much more likely to occur around 2012 as the sun becomes increasingly active. Scientists say in fact we can expect stronger storms in the upcoming solar cycle because clouds of particles ejected from the sun will increase, and the more the particles in the atmosphere the more the possibility of solar storms. Furthermore a major breach in the Earth's magnetic shield adds to the risks.
More about Solar storms, Electrical grid, Major disaster
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