Articles in Solar Storm
Usually NOAA forecasters tells us that the odds of an X-flare (the highest category of solar flares) is less than 1%, even at what is supposedly the peak of the solar cycle. Today they say 15%, and 40% chance of a lesser M-Flare, due to a very large sunspot pointing at us. Read more at SpaceWeather.com.
It is only the biggest X-Flares that we should be fearing. Anything less than say X10 isn’t worth mentioning. But as we go up the scale (each number is 10 times more than the previous), then it gets scary. To put any flare today in perspective, the Carrington Event was a pair of flares,
The biggest flares since 1976 are listed here – a couple of dozen greater than X10 and only 6 greater than X15. The best guess regarding the Carrington Event says greater than X10, but they don’t attempt to put a precise number on it.
We are protected from solar storms by a cloud of charged particles, or plasma, that normally surrounds Earth out to a distance of four times the planet’s radius. Each Earth-directed solar outburst damages the cloud to some degree, and with time it repairs itself. A 2003 storm reduced the cloud to just 4 Earth radii. Scientists believe that a repeat of 1859’s Carrington Event would completely wipe out the plasma cloud, leaving us vulnerable for the following decade.
Certainly, in such a scenario, our satellites would be at great risk and we would expect to lose some or even all of them. Earth-based electrical systems would also face major damage. It really comes down to the odds of two Carrington Events occurring within a decade. We haven’t been observing the Sun long enough to know how likely or unlikely that is. But if we survive one, prudent survivalists would start preparing …
I said this a few days ago:
If sunspot AR1654 sends an X-flare our way, it will still most likely be one of the hundreds per century that do us and our satellites no harm at all. But because it is a large sunspot, pointing our way soon, then the potential for the next Carrington Event is there.
That hasn’t changed, but the relative threat of this particular sunspot has got worse. SpaceWeather.com say:
An X-flare could be in the offing. The magnetic field of big sunspot AR1654 is growing more complex. It is now classified as a ‘beta-gamma-delta’ magnetic field, which means it harbors energy for X-class eruptions. Any explosion today would be Earth-directed.
AR1654 is getting bigger as it turns toward Earth. Not only is the chance of flares increasing, but also the chance of an Earth-directed eruption.This could be the sunspot that breaks the recent lengthy spell of calm space weather around our planet.
It is all about potential. While a killer solar storm could catch us unawares in the quietest part of the solar cycle, the odds of it happening greatly increase:
at the height of the solar cycle (more sunspots to erupt)
from clusters of sunspots
from large sunspots
If sunspot AR1654 sends an X-flare our way, it will still most likely be one of the hundreds per century that do us and our satellites no harm at all. But because it is a large sunspot, pointing our way soon, then the potential for the next Carrington Event is there. While scientists say that the odds are something like 8% (or much less) per solar cycle …
Ordinarily more sun spots means more solar storms. Get some sunspots combining and a major storm is possible.
But right now it looks like there won’t even be a minor X -Class flare. NASA rates the odds at just 1%.
The following is the latest Joint USAF/NOAA Solar Geophysical Activity Report and Forecast:
IA. Analysis of Solar Active Regions and Activity from 19/2100Z to 20/2100Z: Solar activity has been at very low levels for the past 24 hours. There are currently 3 numbered sunspot regions on the disk.
IB. Solar Activity Forecast: Solar activity is likely to be at low levels on days one, two, and three (21 Dec, 22 Dec, 23 Dec).
IIA. Geophysical Activity Summary 19/2100Z to 20/2100Z: The geomagnetic field has been at quiet to unsettled levels for the past 24 hours. Solar wind speed, as measured by the ACE spacecraft, reached a peak around 500 km/s. Total IMF reached 7.2 nT …
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 …
I’m not the best at this game. It took me over a decade to work out the most likely reason for the existence of the Long Count calendar, and although I mention it a lot in passing I’m not sure if I have actually announced my discovery. And I just realized I should be putting it on the home page of this site, so the thousands who visit every day can read my thoughts.
With just 8 days to go, here is my official announcement: 2012 Solved!
1. Many ancient cultures (including the Maya) were capable of watching the skies over long periods of time (longer than we have), and recording their observations.
2. Auroras at low latitudes (down towards the equator) are very rare, less than once per lifetime. Ancient cultures, unable to explain their presence, could have been very scared and concerned when auroras were observed.
3. By noting auroral activity over …
This is brand new – just released this weekend, and is perhaps the last piece of new, quality 2012 science available before the ancient Mayan doomsday. Video link below.
Does the sun have the power to transform humankind?
In Solar (R)evolution, world-renowned German biophysicist Dieter Broers makes a compelling case, pointing to a wealth of scientific evidence that shows a remarkable correlation between increases in solar activity and advances in our creative, mental, and spiritual abilities.
We are in the midst of a dramatic rise in solar disturbances, which have the capability of disrupting the Earth’s geomagnetic field and, as a result, our global ecology. Broers, however,sees this not as an impending apocalypse but as the dawn of a new era.
Drawing on research from a variety of disciplines, he shows how erupting solar activity carries the potential to boost our brain capacity and expand our minds in ways we never imagined possible. Abilities …
I’m not talking ordinary solar storms. I’m talking a once-in-every-40-thousand-years solar storm. That’s something we have no written record of, and given how little we know about our Sun, it is quite possible that it is capable of sending such a super-massive solar storm our way when it feels like it.
So, if a super-massive solar storm – say ten times more powerful than the Carrington Event – could one day occur, could it be powerful enough to flip our magnetic poles?
That’s a question for a physicist, not me. But I did find these two snippets:
It is conceivable that a very large cosmic ray barrage could induce a ring current magnetic field large enough to reverse the geomagnetic polarity at the Earth’s surface. Particle -induced field reversals have been simulated in the laboratory by injecting large quantities of charged particles into a magnetic field (Golden et al., 1981). At a certain …
This happened yesterday. Note the size of our wee planet. Full sun view below. Source: NASA
“Space weather is a serious matter that can affect human economies around the world,” Tamara Dickinson, a senior policy analyst with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), told attendees at the 2012 Space Weather Enterprise Forum, held 5 June in Washington, D. C.
…Dickenson said that there has been an increased awareness about space weather in the White House and that President Barack Obama recently has requested briefing memos on the topic. She highlighted several efforts the administration is taking related to space weather, including a forthcoming national Earth observation strategy, which could be released in July and will include an assessment of space weather. She explained that the strategy document will be part of the fiscal year 2014 presidential budget request.
Dickinson added that the administration also is acting on earlier federal interagency recommendations to ready the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) mission for launch in 2014 …
Regardless of whether you are a survivalist ready to flee to your safe spot, or a power grid executive, the thing you are watching for is an X-Class solar flare, and a large one at that. All types of extra-nasty space weather tend to be associated with the largest solar flares.
The biggest flare of recent times was an X28 in 2003. An X28 is 28 times more powerful than an X1, and X-Class flares are bigger than M-Class.
Consequently scientists are puzzled over a May 17 solar flare that was rated as M-Class. For some reason it triggered the first GLE (ground-level enhancement) to light up neutron monitors on Earth in six years.
“This solar flare was most unimpressive and the associated CME was only slightly more energetic,” said James Ryan, an astrophysicist at the University of New Hampshire Space Science Center (SSC). “And looking at it optically, it was remarkably dim, …
What if the end date of the ancient Mayan Long Count calendar was not meant to be taken literally?
The first question you need to ask is this: Dec 21 is also the Winter Solstice (in the northern hemisphere) – the darkest day of the year, so it is a coincidence or deliberate?
The second question is, if the date is deliberate, then why?
If there is a scientific basis to the Long Count calendar, if it is ultimately reflecting a scientific prediction, then there are still more questions:
Is there anything about a Winter Solstice than can cause a catastrophe?
Could an ancient culture predict a catastrophe, thousands of years away, accurate to a single day?
Or is Dec 21, 2012 a symbolic date for a scientific prediction for approximately Dec 2012?
What we do know:
The ancient Germanic people celebrated the solstice with Yule logs
The very ancient Newgrange tomb in Ireland is aligned to the winter …
Patrick Geryl has shared with me his predictions for the remainder of 2012. They revolve around planetary alignments with the Sun. For example:
October 13, 2012: Conjunction Mercury – Mars and the Sun
Opposition Venus – Pluto across the Sun (weak)
October 13 -14, 2012: Triple Line Up: Pluto – Mercury – Venus
Conclusion: X flare possible.
Head Principle for Large Solar Storms
Large solar storms are induced by 3 planets heliocentrically aligned with the Sun. This means that the center of the combined planets has to go through the center of the Sun. A conjunction of 3 planets is the most powerful.
Extra strength will be delivered if one, two or three groups of 3 other planets line up with each other. The strongest strength will be delivered if they start to line up in the 3 preceding days before the crucial alignment with the top on the day itself. We call this a Triple …
Better late than never!
In my recent article on the incredible harm a solar storm could inflict on infrastructure, I pointed out that we only have a single line of defense, and the solar storms it detects could kill it:
When warning us about incoming geomagnetic storms, the NOAA’s only source of data is the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) satellite. It was launched in 1997, and according the the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2009, it is “well beyond its planned operational life”. I take this to mean it could fail any time, and there is no backup satellite! And all current safety measures become redundant – we won’t be able to remove vulnerable equipment from the grid before it is too late. “ACE is a single point of failure and it’s old,” said William Murtagh, program coordinator for NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction …