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-   -   Solar storms could shut down US for months (http://www.firearmstalk.com/forums/f51/solar-storms-could-shut-down-us-months-9866/)

Musket 01-11-2009 08:19 PM

Solar storms could shut down US for months
 
FYI, a report from NASA...so the SHTF scenario might not be plague or nuclear war--but rather the sun. :eek:

*************

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,478024,00.html
Powerful Solar Storm Could Shut Down U.S. for Months
Friday , January 09, 2009

By Robert Roy Britt

A new study from the National Academy of Sciences outlines grim possibilities on Earth for a worst-case scenario solar storm.

Damage to power grids and other communications systems could be catastrophic, the scientists conclude, with effects leading to a potential loss of governmental control of the situation.

The prediction is based in part on a major solar storm in 1859 that caused telegraph wires to short out in the United States and Europe, igniting widespread fires.

It was perhaps the worst in the past 200 years, according to the new study, and with the advent of modern power grids and satellites, much more is at risk.

"A contemporary repetition of the [1859] event would cause significantly more extensive (and possibly catastrophic) social and economic disruptions," the researchers conclude.

'Command and control might be lost'

When the sun is in the active phase of its 11-year cycle, it can unleash powerful magnetic storms that disable satellites, threaten astronaut safety, and even disrupt communication systems on Earth.

The worst storms can knock out power grids by inducing currents that melt transformers.

Modern power grids are so interconnected that a big space storm the type expected to occur about once a century could cause a cascade of failures that would sweep across the United States, cutting power to 130 million people or more in this country alone, the new report concludes.

Such widespread power outages, though expected to be a rare possibility, would affect other vital systems.

"Impacts would be felt on interdependent infrastructures with, for example, potable water distribution affected within several hours; perishable foods and medications lost in 12-24 hours; immediate or eventual loss of heating/air conditioning, sewage disposal, phone service, transportation, fuel resupply and so on," the report states.

Outages could take months to fix, the researchers say. Banks might close, and trade with other countries might halt.

"Emergency services would be strained, and command and control might be lost," write the researchers, led by Daniel Baker, director of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

"Whether it is terrestrial catastrophes or extreme space weather incidents, the results can be devastating to modern societies that depend in a myriad of ways on advanced technological systems," Baker said in a statement released with the report.

Stormy past

Solar storms have had significant effects in modern time:

In 1989, the sun unleashed a tempest that knocked out power to all of Quebec, Canada.

A remarkable 2003 rampage included 10 major solar flares over a two-week period, knocking out two Earth-orbiting satellites and crippling an instrument aboard a Mars orbiter.

"Obviously, the sun is Earth's life blood," said Richard Fisher, director of the Heliophysics division at NASA. "To mitigate possible public safety issues, it is vital that we better understand extreme space weather events caused by the sun's activity."

"Space weather can produce solar storm electromagnetic fields that induce extreme currents in wires, disrupting power lines, causing wide-spread blackouts and affecting communication cables that support the Internet," the report states. "Severe space weather also produces solar energetic particles and the dislocation of the Earth's radiation belts, which can damage satellites used for commercial communications, global positioning and weather forecasting."

Rush to prepare

The race is on for better forecasting abilities, as the next peak in solar activity is expected to come around 2012.

While the sun is in a lull now, activity can flare up at any moment, and severe space weather how severe, nobody knows will ramp up a year or two before the peak.

Some scientists expect the next peak to bring more severe events than other recent peaks.

"A catastrophic failure of commercial and government infrastructure in space and on the ground can be mitigated through raising public awareness, improving vulnerable infrastructure and developing advanced forecasting capabilities," the report states. "Without preventive actions or plans, the trend of increased dependency on modern space-weather sensitive assets could make society more vulnerable in the future."

The report was commissioned and funded by NASA. Experts from around the world in industry, government and academia participated. It was released this week.

bkt 01-11-2009 09:36 PM

Erm...yeah. Hasn't this been kinda old news for a while? I mean, we had the solar flare which skanked the Quebec power station and knocked out a HUGE portion of the Northeastern U.S. and much of Canada. That was a friggin' hoot....

So it could be a massive solar flare or an electromagnetic pulse from a nuclear weapon. It could be a natural disaster or a terrorist attack. Pick your scenario, then prepare for it.

canebrake 01-11-2009 09:48 PM

Brake out the Reynolds Wrap helmets!

It's all good.

Check out cpttango30, he’s ready!

And Nobama is going to fix the grid, just ask him and/or the 74%.

sgtdeath66 01-11-2009 11:21 PM

we also have to worry about a blue star that could wipe us out with no warning and block out the sun. although we dont have one close enough to us that we know of. the closest one is 2000 light years away,though too far to harm us. but a star can explode at any time that is in the dangerous 1000 light years distance from us. it would destroy human life as we know it:eek:

Mark F 01-11-2009 11:31 PM

One good asteroid and we are TOAST. It will be the insects time to rule the earth for the next 50 million years.

sgtdeath66 01-11-2009 11:37 PM

anything that weighs under x-amount of pounds will flourish, its happened 100's of times in the past, just like this so called "global warming". the planet earth has had over 1000 ice ages. history repeats itself, thats how mother earth killes the parasites, and this time we are the parasites.

chopkick 01-12-2009 09:37 PM

Hey Musket, I heard about this last night while listening to Coast to Coast on the radio. It is suppose to possibly coincide with the end of the Mayan Calendar. 2012 is a really big year for conspiracy theorists. They all think that it will be the end of time.
Anything is possible. I'm not going to cast doubt on the solar scenario.

Musket 01-12-2009 09:57 PM

yes I noticed that, its odd that it coincides with that date. The NASA report is real, although not an "absolute". Solar flares have been recognized as causing damage and interruptions. Although no one can say for sure if it will be on that scale. I expect the date of 2012 is coincidence.


But lets just hypothetically imagine how things would unfold if this scenario even hits half of the US--all communications and electronics are toast......


Its an eye opener.

Lets see, if I had to choose my SHTF scenario...hmmm. I might choose plague over volcano, solar roasting or nuclear weapon. At least with disease, if you barracade yourself up until all the infecteds are dead, you stand a good chance of survival. Nukes etc however destroy the planet too, so the habitat would probably be mostly removed from play in other scenarios.

Just my two uneducated cents :)

canebrake 01-13-2009 05:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Musket (Post 61972)
But lets just hypothetically imagine how things would unfold if this scenario even hits half of the US--all communications and electronics are toast......

What would happen if there were no more hypothetical questions? :confused: :p :D


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