General Question

snowberry's avatar

Do you agree that the earth needs better preparation for solar storms?

Asked by snowberry (21407points) December 13th, 2013

“The largest solar storm on record is believed to be the so-called ‘Carrington event’ in 1859—an event that reportedly set telegraph machines ablaze and caused auroras borealis so bright that people could read well into the night. Yet there’s speculation that the 2012 CME was likely even more powerful.”

The reason the 2012 event did not have similar effects is that the radiation was not a direct hit on the earth.

‘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,” Baker said. “Rather than wait and pick up the pieces, we ought to take lessons from these events to prepare ourselves for inevitable future solar storms.’”

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14 Answers

Rarebear's avatar

Hm. I’m not exactly sure what he is proposing. Certainly solar storms are dangerous for people in space and for satellites. I’m not entirely sure, except for better shielding, what can be done about it.

I shared this question with Rocketguy who designs communications satellites.

snowberry's avatar

If the event in 1859 had happened today, the entire world would be severely affected. We depend too much on electricity to get off as easily as people did in that day.

Rarebear's avatar

@snowberry You very well may be right. I’m just not sure what we can do about it.

snowberry's avatar

At the very least it would require emergency training worldwide, and redundancy in security measures, food storage, and so on.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Only thing that really needs to be done & can be done is to harden the electric grid.

Rarebear's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me What does that mean?

Rarebear's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me Thanks. I had to scroll past the shrill and find the fixes.

DWW25921's avatar

It’s an interesting question but if something really big came really fast is there anything we could do?

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

“Telegraph systems all over Europe and North America failed, in some cases giving telegraph operators electric shocks. Telegraph pylons threw sparks. Some telegraph systems continued to send and receive messages despite having been disconnected from their power supplies.”

~Solar Storm of 1859: The Carrington Super Flare, Wikipedia.


RocketGuy's avatar

Satellites are built with plenty of shielding, but are still damaged by solar events. Only NORAD and ICBM sites are shielded to that level or better. Everything else would be toast. We would have to rebuild our electrically-driven infrastructure from the ground up. Better start watching Revolution to see how they survived.

filmfann's avatar

Whatever we do, it will be costly and ineffective. Just accept it.

talljasperman's avatar

We need to protect electronics’ with Faraday Cages.

ETpro's avatar

I absolutely agree we need to harden all critical infrastructure including the power grid. In the US with high unemployment it’s a national tragedy that we choose to leave well-trained construction workers unemployed through a 6 year-long recession when so much infrastructure works needs doing. We won’t do it though, till it we have a national disaster thanks to the perfectly predictable occurrence, and we see death and destruction on a wholesale scale.

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