A solar ‘superstorm’ is coming and we’ll only get 30-minute warning…They cause devastation, occur every 150 years – and the last one was in 1859
THURSDAY 07 FEBRUARY 2013
A solar “superstorm” could knock out Earth’s communications satellites, cause dangerous power surges in the national grid and disrupt crucial navigation aids and aircraft avionics, a major report has found.
It is inevitable that an extreme solar storm – caused by the Sun ejecting billions of tonnes of highly-energetic matter travelling at a million miles an hour – will hit the Earth at some time in the near future, but it is impossible to predict more than about 30 minutes before it actually happens, a team of engineers has warned.
Solar superstorms are estimated to occur once every 100 or 200 years, with the last one hitting the Earth in 1859.
Although none has occurred in the space age, we are far more vulnerable now than a century ago because of the ubiquity of modern electronics, they said.
“The general consensus is that a solar superstorm is inevitable, a matter not of ‘if’ but ‘when?’,” says a report into extreme space weather by a group of experts at the Royal Academy of Engineering in London.