Last week, Digital Journal
reported on the NAS-dubbed X-class “Valentine’s Day Solar Flare.” The solar storm was the worst in four years and is now in the 11-year active cycle – 2013 is projected to be at its solar maximum. The flare was strong enough to disrupt
numerous communications across the United States.
This storm has now sparked discussion on what could actually happen in the event of even stronger solar storms. Theoretical physicist and professor Michio Kaku put it bluntly when he stated
in 2009 that the sun could release a “tsunami of radiation” that could wipe out anything from a BlackBerry to the Internet to television stations.
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
published a brief report
on the dangers of solar flares this week. “Economies around the world have become increasingly vulnerable to the ever-changing nature of the sun,” writes NOAA.
The NOAA suggests to forecast and monitor solar flares in order to “reduce their effect on space-based technologies” so it wouldn’t cause maximum impact on the numerous satellites orbiting our planet.
During an annual meeting at the American Association for the Advancement of Science
over the weekend, NOAA administrator and Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere Jane Lubchenco was quite frank of future solar storms.
“This is not a matter of if, it's simply a matter of when and how big,” said Lubchenco, reports Space.com
. “We have every reason to expect we're going to be seeing more space weather in the coming years, and it behooves us to be smart and be prepared.”
Meanwhile, other scientists at the conference are warning that a solar flare could be equivalent to a “global hurricane Katrina” and cost more than $2 trillion as it would damage electric power grids on an international level, reports the Epoch Times
“Power grids, air traffic control systems and intelligent transport systems need to be looked at,” said the director of the European Commission Institute for Protection and Security of the Citizen, Stephen Lechner, notes the Independent
. “And would our financial trading places have to shut down if the accuracy of the time stamp for an electronic order was not given any more?”
In the end, though, there are only two things we can concentrate on, according to Sir John Beddington, chief scientific advisor to the UK government: prediction and engineering.
But is there a way to accurately predict solar activity? BBC News
reports that Thomas Bogdan of the Space Weather Prediction Center
said it is quite difficult to predict solar storms and added that space forecasts are “not as good as it needs to be.”