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Will The Peak Of The Solar Cycle In 2013 Produce Technology Crippling Solar Super Storms?

Our sun is becoming increasingly unstable, and most people have no idea the complete and utter devastation that a massive solar storm could potentially cause.  A giant solar storm could potentially take out satellites, GPS systems, electrical grids, communication networks and pretty much anything else that runs on electricity or that relies upon electronics.  And considering how dependent our society has become on technology, we are talking about an event that could possibly bring about the end of the world as we know it.  Right now, solar activity is increasing as we approach the peak of Solar Cycle 24.  But the worst is yet to come.  Scientists are expecting a significant increase in coronal mass ejections and geomagnetic disturbances as we approach the peak of this solar cycle in 2013.  A number of scientists are warning that there is a chance that we could even see an event similar to the solar storm of 1859 that fried telegraph machines all over Europe and North America.  Other scientists are warning that our sun is starting to behave so unusually that it is becoming very difficult to predict what may be coming next.  If our sun starts to behave even more erratically, that could mean big trouble for all of us.  If our sun fails, there is no backup plan.  We only have one sun.  Most of us take the stability of the gigantic ball of fire that our very small planet is circling for granted, but what if it becomes apparent that we can’t take that for granted any longer?  That can be very frightening to think about.

Just a few years ago, there was very little activity on the sun.  Normally, activity on the sun does slow down during non-peak times, but the years of 2008 and 2009 were unusually slow.  At the time, David Hathaway of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center said that we were “witnessing something unlike anything we’ve seen in 100 years“.

But now solar activity is becoming dangerously intense as we approach the peak of the solar cycle in 2013.  One group of sunspots was measured to be 118,681 miles wide earlier this year.  According to NASA, that would be “more than 15 Earths set end to end“.

But what we have seen this year is only the beginning.  Scientists expect solar activity to really kick into high gear once we get into 2013.  Just check out what Dr. Matthew Penn of the National Solar Observatory in Arizona said earlier this year

“Because the sun is becoming more active, it will have an impact on millions of people. Sunspots can cause the biggest and most damaging space storms that occur.

During the next two years, we are expecting the number of sunspots visible on the sun to reach a maximum. We know that sunspots are the source of a lot of space weather and solar storms, so we expect a larger number of solar storms here at the Earth.”

Solar activity runs in cycles, and some scientists are concerned that since solar activity got so quiet back in 2008 and 2009 that it might mean that the coming solar peak might be particularly intense.

The shift in solar activity that we have witnessed over the last couple of years has definitely been dramatic.  Back in 2009, there were 260 days without any sunspots.  In 2012, there have been zero days without any sunspots.

The following chart from spaceweather.com shows the number of days without any sunspots that we have seen since 2009…

2012 total: 0 days (0%)
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)

But it isn’t just that we are seeing a lot of sunspots.  We are also seeing some truly breathtaking explosions on the sun.  Just check out this example from earlier this month

A truly gigantic explosion happened on the sun yesterday. On Nov. 16th, magnetic fields snaking halfway across the sun’s southern hemisphere erupted in tandem, producing a prominence so big, it doesn’t fit inside this image from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO): “The red-glowing looped material is plasma, a hot gas made of electrically charged hydrogen and helium,” officials with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, which oversees the SDO mission, explained in a description. “The prominence plasma flows along a tangled and twisted structure of magnetic fields generated by the sun’s internal dynamo. An erupting prominence occurs when such a structure becomes unstable and bursts outward, releasing the plasma.” The blast hurled a CME into space, but the cloud does not appear to be heading for Earth.

If our sun becomes even more unstable, that could dramatically affect the lives of every man, woman and child living on the planet.

The number one thing that causes changes in our weather patterns is the sun, and the United States is just coming out of one of the worst summers of drought in U.S. history.

If solar instability plays havoc with our weather patterns and we see dramatic crop failures all over the globe, what would that do to our ability to feed ourselves?

And if people cannot feed themselves, would that cause societal instability all over the planet?

Perhaps an even greater concern is what would happen if a giant solar super storm caused a massive EMP burst took out our electrical grids.

Remember, we have seen such an event before in 1859.  Many scientists warn that if a similar event happened today that it would be absolutely catastrophic.

Even a relatively minor event could have devastating consequences for our very vulnerable communications systems.  The following is from a National Geographic article

Of particular concern are disruptions to global positioning systems (GPS), which have become ubiquitous in cell phones, airplanes, and automobiles, Baker said. A $13 billion business in 2003, the GPS industry is predicted to grow to nearly $1 trillion by 2017.

In addition, Baker said, satellite communications—also essential to many daily activities—would be at risk from solar storms.

“Every time you purchase a gallon of gas with your credit card, that’s a satellite transaction,” he said.

But the big fear is what might happen to the electrical grid, since power surges caused by solar particles could blow out giant transformers. Such transformers can take a long time to replace, especially if hundreds are destroyed at once, said Baker, who is a co-author of a National Research Council report on solar-storm risks.

The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s Cliver agrees: “They don’t have a lot of these on the shelf,” he said.

If a very large EMP burst did take out our electrical grids, it would be a natural disaster unprecedented in U.S. history and it would potentially take many years to recover from such an event.  The following is from a recent New York Times article

A powerful solar (or “geomagnetic”) storm has the potential to simultaneously damage multiple transformers in the electricity grid and perhaps even bring down large sections of it, affecting upwards of a hundred million people in the United States for many months, if not years.

These huge transformers are expensive and difficult to replace, and not many are stockpiled in the United States for an emergency. In the worst case, the impact would be devastating: An outage could cost a few trillion dollars, with full recovery taking years. Not only would parts of the grid be compromised, but telephone networks, undersea cables, satellites and railroads also would be affected.

A 2008 National Academy of Sciences study warned that “because of the interconnectedness of critical infrastructures in modern society,” the “collateral effects of a longer-term outage” would likely include “disruption of the transportation, communication, banking and finance systems, and government services; the breakdown of the distribution of potable water owing to pump failure; and the loss of perishable foods and medications because of lack of refrigeration.”

Solar storms are just like regular storms – they can range from the totally harmless to the totally catastrophic.

But if we did experience a totally catastrophic solar storm, what would that mean for all of us?

In a previous article, I asked some questions that most people have not considered…

What would you do if an EMP attack happened in the middle of the winter and you suddenly were not able to heat your home any longer?

What would you do if all the electronics in your car got fried and you simply could not drive anywhere?

What would you do if all the supermarkets in your area shut down because food could not be transported across the country anymore?

What would you do if you were suddenly unable to call your family and friends for help?

What would you do if you were suddenly unable to get the medicine that you needed?

What would you do if your debit cards and credit cards simply did not work any longer and you could not get any of your money out of the bank?

What would you do if all of these things happened all at once?

Most people just assume that nothing like this will ever happen.

But what if it did?

Would your family be prepared?

Over the next couple of years, conditions are going to be ideal for solar super storms to develop which could potentially change life as we know it in a single day.

So keep an eye on news reports about the sun.

Hopefully nothing will happen.

But if something does happen, those that have made preparations in advance will be in the best position to survive the aftermath.

  • mainstreeteconomist

    US Government Worst Case Scenario

    In a simulation, the effects of a solar storm began with the disruption of radio and GPS signals. Ten to 20 minutes later, the storm “basically took out” commercial satellites, disabling television stations, telephones and other data transactions.

    Nearly a full day later, the ongoing burst of radiation reversed the current in electrical lines, knocking out transformers worldwide and leaving millions without power. This quickly led to a shutdown of water, heating, cooling and telephone services.

    US Government Solution

    Connect all electrical grids in the USA into a single grid controlled by computers.

    Amish Solution

    (1) Preserve and store food.

    (2) Non electrical lighting.

    (3) Purify and store water.

    (4) Composting toilet.

    (5) Gas refrigerator / freezer.

    (6) Make your own soap.

    (7) Tools for building / repair.

    (8) Gas or wood stove.

    (9) Hand washing machine.

    (10) Other hand cranked items.

  • Christian Stolle

    Gotta check this scientific paper. It may seem outlandish at first glance. The author asserts to have been working in black-ops. It surely does connect many dots and gives a very fresh perspective on what is going on with the sun – and many other things:

    http://www.soldierhugs.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Geoengineering.pdf

    • mainstreeteconomist

      http://www.soldierhugs.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Geoengineering.pdf

      Good News / Bad News?

      To accept the above “scientific paper”, you have to believe that the US government has a faster-than-light propulsion system that can only be operated by a psychic!

      Moving forward, this “scientific paper” claims / predicts the following:

      (1) The sun is getting larger and hotter by combining with dust and debris in the universe.

      (2) The sun will evolve in steps rather than a smooth transition.

      (3) After a series of flares, the sun will briefly go dark like it went out.

      (4) The evolved sun will push the planets further away to offset higher sun temperatures.

      (5) The year will get longer and a new ecosystem will be established.

      (6) The crust of the earth may expand along with a drop in ocean levels. Massive earthquakes would occur but they are not discussed in this “scientific paper”.

      (7) Geoengineering (chemtrails and HAARP) programs have been implemented to manage the above changes.

  • Jerry

    At least we have advance warning of a CME hitting the Earth. The Carrington Event occurred about 17 hours after that solar explosion (fastest known I believe). If the electrical industry has any sense they have the ability to disconnect the grid (transmission lines from the transformers) well before the the event hits. Of course many satellites and electronics will be fried but at least they should be able to save the grid (irreplaceable 765,000 volt transformers, etc.). A terrorist attack HEMP without warning is a whole other ballgame which is why the grid needs to be hardened NOW.

    • Nexusfast123

      You would not harden the electrical assets of a grid system. You would though harden the electronic control systems (the control systems). Failure of the control systems (SCADA) can cause a lot of damage to all sorts of networks – gas, electrical, water, sewage disposal, etc. All our networks – power, communications, financial, etc, are interlinked.

      Power companies would power down and open the breakers’ so that the electrical current induced in the Earth’s crust by the flare does run through the circuit into the transformers and melt them.

      There are only a few companies capable of manufacturing 132kv and up transformers so if they go we would be in the stone age very quickly.

  • Mark

    We are always working towards being responsible for our own welfare in a disaster. We will need to feed more than just neighbors if a collaspe happens.. If you do not learn from recent history, such as Sandy, you should rethink your position in life. We are very fragile without the right enviroment. I am going to pick up some more wheat this week since the price is right. Nice and fresh and local grown at 18 cents a pound. This could come in handy to help others and if not needed for people, we can feed it to cows.Always look for a deal to get prepared.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tatiana-Covington/100002159242044 Tatiana Covington

    This reminds me of an SF story by Clarke in which the protagonist foresaw the Sun growing sick of the “crawling corruption of organic life” and licked clean the planets.

  • Sam

    Thanks Michael for this info. You mentioned about the huge transfomers that are very expensive to replace. The electrical companies should be preparing for this, but the government does not want to stir up panic, but more importantly it does not want people to be informed. I believe the government is making preparations for a massive EMP burst scenario in stealth, The very wealthy will go underground while the average people bear the brunt of the chaos that ensues.

  • rollsthepaul

    We are in for a wiping of the slate. By March-April 2013, everyone on the planet will realize there is something very wrong. Internet and most communications gone or seriously damaged by May 2013. As tough as this will be, it is absolutely necessary because our world is much too far gone and cannot be healed, with TPTB still in charge. The instructions have not changed; get at least 250 miles from the ocean, at least 650′ above sea level, at least 200 miles outside of any city, shelter that will withstand very high winds, as much food and supplies as you can save,a means of dealing with human waste. Most will not prepare and the death rate will be high both immediately and afterwards due to starvation, injury and disease. Thankfully, many will never know what hit them. The survivors will envy the dead. Mental preparation is the most significant. Many people will be in a very bad way physically and mentally and the able must help as much as they can.

    • HecatesMoon

      Rolls, nothing bad is going to happen on that date. :)
      The Mayans were, just like everyone else, looking for a way to understand and explain the world around them.
      During times of great distress, religions tend to create an apocalyptic type event that will free and relieve them of persecution, and will punish those who are causing that misery to give people of that religious group hope for the future.
      In the case of the Mayans though, there isn’t truly any real indication that the end of their calender meant that there was going to be an apocalyptic event. It was just the end of a cycle, and for all we know on December 21, 2012 there would have been huge celebrations all over the Mayan cities had they continued to thrive until now.
      That isn’t to say that humanity couldn’t use a good scrubbing, but I would keep alert to, and be more fearful of, scenarios that are far more likely than the end of the world being brought on by the end of a calender belonging to a long gone, dead society and religion.

  • rollsthepaul

    Near Dec 21. 2012 planetary alignments will be very similar to what they were at the time of the Carrington event. No one knows what, if anything, will happen but we don’t have long to find out.

    • Nexusfast123

      How can you take a civilization seriously that did not predict their own demise. Also the Mayans saw that the this was the merely the end of their calendar and the start of a new cycle.

      Also, the Carrington event was a surprise given the time in history when it occurred. We now have satellites that can see and warn of a solar event.

      Power system operators around the world would have many hours to prepare and power down their grid systems. Also the impact will probably not be global and would probably be localised – in the Northern Hemisphere for instance.

  • chris12138

    The funny thing is if I remember correctly remember Congress was warned about this a couple years back. They could have hardened our power grid against EMP for something like 2.5 billion aaaaand of course they didn’t! Guess they had to save that money for the Muslim Brotherhood >:-(

  • 2Gary2

    the mayans could not have been all that smart if a couple of spanish soldiers and a little smallpox could wipe them out.

  • The Professor

    Ooh, the strangest activity in over 100 years? wow, that is a long time…….

    Having said that, The Sun is abut 4.5 billion years old now. It is about 300 degrees hotter and about 6% greater in radius than when it was first born.

    So the strangest solar conditions for 100 years is like saying “you know what, I sneezed 49.056 seconds ago, I must have Plague” And then the next minute saying that “I have not sneezed for over 49 seconds, how strange….. There is something terribly wrong!”
    The Universe is 15 billion years old, and it has survived many disasters, ELE (Extinction Level Events) happen, and on a universal scale, they happen with incredible frequency. However, compared to human time-scales, they are incredibly rare events. However, one will happen soon in galactic terms, but that may not be for a few million years yet, or it could be tomorrow. either one, is an imminent event on a galactic scale.