Multiple solar flares are facing Earth and “strange objects” are passing near a massive sunspot CME. Sunspot AR1934 and AR 1936 possess beta gamma magnetic fields and possess the power to emit strong solar flares, according to NOAA. The space weather experts put the odds of an X-Class solar flare at one percent and the possibility of an M-Class solar flare at 25 percent.
The United States is not prepared for a massive solar flare, according to statements made by a University of Colorado scientist who specializes in solar storm research. Dr. Daniel Baker and his space weather peers reportedly believe that if a major CME (coronal mass ejection) hits the Earth, “complete mayhem” will occur.
Dr. Daniel Baker is the director of the University of Colorado Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics. The learned scientists also aptly noted in a recent report that policy makers are not paying attention to the problems posed by solar flares and the dire impact a direct hit would have on the power grid. GridX II, a nationwide power grid drill took place on November 13 and 14. The preliminary results from the three-nation electrical system test in North America noted that the grid would not likely survive a direct hit by a solar flare, EMP, or cyber attack, according to Off The Grid News.
The University of Colorado scientists is not alone in his professional critique and predictions regarding solar flares. A Royal Academy of Engineering report authored earlier this year urged officials to create a space weather board to enhance “solar superstorm” planning. The same entity also called for a space weather warning system that would alert the public about potentially dangerous radiation spawned by such events.
An excerpt from the Royal Academy of Engineering report reads:
“These environmental challenges [solar flares] can cause detrimental effects to the electricity grid, satellites, avionics, air passengers, signals from satellite navigation systems, mobile telephones and more. They have consequently been identified as a risk to the world economy and society.”
A National Resource Council report Dr. Baker co-authored in 2008 stated that high-energy particles released by a massive solar flare would possibly disrupt communications, the economy, and transportation. The Colorado scientists also accurately noted that the food supply would become limited rather quickly, along with limited to no access to medications and clean drinking water.
An excerpt from the National Resource Council report reads:
“The adverse effects of extreme space weather on modern technology–power grid outages, high-frequency communication blackouts, spacecraft anomalies–are well known and well documented, and the physical processes underlying space weather are also generally well understood. Less well documented and understood, however, are the potential economic and societal impacts of the disruption of critical technological systems by severe space weather.”
The SHIELD Act was introduced by Representative Trent Franks to help bolster the power grid and prevent a nationwide tragedy spurred by either a man-made or natural disaster that was powerful enough to destroy the electrical system. The legislation has been stalled in Congress for years, prompting Franks to pen a new version of the bi-partisan supported bill to spur increased attention and hopefully movement on the pending bill.
Dr. Baker had this to say about solar flares and the work which needs done to protect the quality and sanctity of life from the devastation which could follow such an occurrence:
“The speed of this event was as fast or faster than anything that has been seen in the modern space age. The event not only had the most powerful CME ever recorded, but it would have triggered one of the strongest geomagnetic storms and the highest density of particle fluctuation ever seen in a typical solar cycle, which lasts roughly 11 year. The Carrington storm and the 2012 event show that extreme space weather events can happen even during a modest solar cycle like the one presently underway. Rather than wait and pick up the pieces, we ought to take lessons from these events to prepare ourselves for inevitable future solar storms.”
Both the scientific and environmental communities appear to agree that the power grid is too weak to withstand a direct impact by a massive solar flare – and too integral to our survival to continue to neglect addressing the issue from the governmental level. The official results from the GridX II power grid drill are still months away.