New Evidence for Super-Massive Solar Storms
Until now the largest recorded solar storm has been the Carrington Event of 1859. Scientific discussions of solar storm risks typically refer to this event. What they often neglect to mention is that we have only been observing solar storms since just before that date. The frequency of these massive storms has impossible to tell without more data.
“In the 160-year record of geomagnetic storms, the Carrington event is the biggest.” It’s possible to delve back even farther in time by examining arctic ice. “Energetic particles leave a record in nitrates in ice cores,” he explains. “Here again the Carrington event sticks out as the biggest in 500 years and nearly twice as big as the runner-up.”
These statistics suggest that Carrington flares are once in a half-millennium events. The statistics are far from solid, however, and Hathaway cautions that we don’t understand flares well enough to rule out a repeat in our lifetime.
[read more of the NASA article to get a sense of the threat they acknowledge]
Now we have a new study (that will appear in the prestigious Nature journal) that suggests the Carrington Event was just a baby!
A new study just released indicates the June 2012 discovery by a team of Japanese scientists showing a spike in carbon-14 found in tree rings dating between 774-775 AD – was most likely caused by a CME (coronal mass ejection).
This new discovery has been titled the “Charlemagne Event” – named after Charlemagne’s victory over the Lombards during the same period. “What our team concluded was the Charlemagne Event would be 10 or 20 times greater than the Carrington Event of 1859″.
…Imagine the lights going off all over the developed world – not to come on for who knows how long – because you have to build more transformers. And how to you do that without electricity? It’s a real problem to prepare for it.”
There is still no way of knowing the frequency of either event without more data. But it is clear that a Carrington Event level of solar storm is probably going to occur more frequently than every 500 years, if one 10 or 20 times as large has occurred in the last 1500 years.
An ancient culture could have had more data, simply by keeping note of low-latitude auroras. And they could have predicted the next super-massive storm for Dec 21, 2012. I am more worried than ever, because it is now possible they are predicting a bigger storm that the Charlemagne Event.