Space weather could wreak havoc in gadget-driven world
AFP/NASA/File – A NASA image of an erupting solar flare. A geomagnetic space storm sparked by a solar eruption like the …
WASHINGTON (AFP) – A geomagnetic space storm sparked by a solar eruption like the one that flared toward Earth Tuesday is bound to strike again and could wreak havoc across the gadget-happy modern world, experts say.
Contemporary society is increasingly vulnerable to space weather because of our dependence on satellite systems for synchronizing computers, airline navigation, telecommunications networks and other electronic devices.
A potent solar storm could disrupt these technologies, scorch satellites, crash stock markets and cause power outages that last weeks or months, experts said Saturday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting.
The situation will only get more dire because the solar cycle is heading into a period of more intense activity in the coming 11 years.
"This is not a matter of if, it is simply a matter of when and how big," said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration administrator Jane Lubchenco.
"The last time we had a maximum in the solar cycle, about 10 years ago, the world was a very different place. Cell phones are now ubiquitous; they were certainly around (before) but we didn't rely on them for so many different things," she said.
"Many things that we take for granted today are so much more prone to the process of space weather than was the case in the last solar maximum."
Black Blade: We haven't had any real solar flare (EMP) problems for a few years now. It would be interesting to see what would happen if the phones went down for a few days. If a flare hit us at the right angle, then we could experience something as massive of worse than the flare in 1989 that "provoked geomagnetic storms that disrupted electric power transmission" and caused blackouts across the Canadian province of Quebec. So fcar we have been very lucky but we are living on borrowed time.