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 More Active Sun Means Nasty Solar Storms Ahead

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LarryWNY
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PostSubject: More Active Sun Means Nasty Solar Storms Ahead   Thu Jun 10, 2010 11:46 am

SPACE.com Space.com Staff

space.com – Wed Jun 9, 6:00 pm ET
The sun is about to get a lot more active, which could have ill effects on Earth. So to prepare, top sun scientists met Tuesday to discuss the best ways to protect Earth's satellites and other vital systems from the coming solar storms.


Solar storms occur when sunspots on our star erupt and spew out flumes of charged particles that can damage power systems. The sun's activity typically follows an 11-year cycle, and it looks to be coming out of a slump and gearing up for an active period.


"The sun is waking up from a deep slumber, and in the next few years we expect to see much higher levels of solar activity," said Richard Fisher, head of NASA's Heliophysics Division. "At the same time, our technological society has developed an unprecedented sensitivity to solar storms. The intersection of these two issues is what we're getting together to discuss."


Fisher and other experts met at the Space Weather Enterprise Forum, which took place in Washington, D.C., at the National Press Club.


Bad news for gizmos


People of the 21st century rely on high-tech systems for the basics of daily life. But smart power grids, GPS navigation, air travel, financial services and emergency radio communications can all be knocked out by intense solar activity.


A major solar storm could cause twenty times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina, warned the National Academy of Sciences in a 2008 report, "Severe Space Weather Events—Societal and Economic Impacts." [Photos: Sun storms.]


Luckily, much of the damage can be mitigated if managers know a storm is coming. That's why better understanding of solar weather, and the ability to give advance warning, is especially important.


Putting satellites in 'safe mode' and disconnecting transformers can protect electronics from damaging electrical surges.


"Space weather forecasting is still in its infancy, but we're making rapid progress," said Thomas Bogdan, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo.


Eyes on the sun


NASA and NOAA work together to manage a fleet of satellites that monitor the sun and help to predict its changes.


A pair of spacecraft called STEREO (Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory) is stationed on opposite sides of the sun, offering a combined view of 90 percent of the solar surface. In addition, SDO (the Solar Dynamics Observatory), which just launched in February 2010, is able to photograph solar active regions with unprecedented spectral, temporal and spatial resolution. Also, an old satellite called the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE), which launched in 1997, is still chugging along monitoring winds coming off the sun. And there are dozens more dedicated to solar science.


"I believe we're on the threshold of a new era in which space weather can be as influential in our daily lives as ordinary terrestrial weather." Fisher said. "We take this very seriously indeed."


http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20100609/sc_space/moreactivesunmeansnastysolarstormsahead


Short clip and links to info
http://www.space.com/common/media/video/player.php?videoRef=b041217_solar_storm_promo

________________________________________________

Although it is possible that a nuclear EMP attack will never occur, a solar flare that will completely shut down the electrical grid (for a very long period of time) almost certainly will eventually occur unless adequate protections are put in place. For a comprehensive recent report on the effects of geomagnetic storms and the EMP E3 component, see Severe Space Weather Events -- Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts by the National Research Council of the United States National Academies. A solar storm of the size of the 1859 event, or even a smaller geomagnetic storm that occurred on May 14-15 in 1921, could simultaneously knock out the power grids of the United States, Canada, northern Europe and Australia, with recovery times of 4 to 10 years (since the solar storm would burn up large transformers worldwide, for which very few spares exist.) The United States has no capacity for building replacements for these large transformers.

It is important to understand that severe solar storms produce only the E3 component that burns out power grid transformers and induce DC-like currents in very long electrical conductors. Solar storms do not produce the fast E1 component that can be so damaging to electronics. Some astronomical phenomena can produce a gamma ray burst that could produce an extremely large E1 pulse, but those are extremely rare and only hit the Earth on time scales of every several million to hundreds of millions of years.

http://www.futurescience.com/emp.html

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PostSubject: Getting Prepared for an Electromagnetic Pulse Attack   Thu Jun 10, 2010 11:49 am

Getting Prepared for an
Electromagnetic Pulse Attack

by Jerry Emanuelson



Futurescience, LLC

The science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke once said:


Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
This statement is commonly known as Clarke's Third Law. Many people have heard this quotation, but few people really think about its implications.

We now live in a world that is so completely immersed in advanced technology that we depend upon it for our very survival. Most of the actions that we depend upon for our everyday activities -- from flipping a switch to make the lights come on to obtaining all of our food supplies at a nearby supermarket -- are things that any individual from a century ago would consider magic.

Very few people in industrialized countries do work that is not directly assisted by electronic computers, although that computerized assistance is often quite invisible to the average person. Few people think about things such as the fact that whenever we buy some food item at a supermarket (and many others are buying the same item), the next time we go to that same supermarket, they still have about the same supplies that they had before. There are invisible infrastructures all around us that are made up of advanced technology. Most of us just take the magic for granted.

Few people stop to consider what would happen if, in an instant, the magic went away. If our advanced technology were suddenly and completely destroyed, how would we manage to survive? A nuclear EMP could make the magic go away. I hope it never happens, and I don't think that it is at all inevitable. It makes no sense, however, to be blind to the danger. It is both much less likely to happen -- and also less likely to have a catastrophic impact -- if, both as a civilization and as individuals, we are prepared for an attack on our advanced technology. A nuclear EMP would be a seemingly magical attack upon our advanced technology, the technological infrastructure upon which our lives depend.

Among all of the kinds of electromagnetic disturbances that can occur, though, it is important to keep things in perspective. It is possible that a nuclear EMP may never happen where you live. On the other hand, a severe solar storm that will destroy most of the world's power grids appears nearly inevitable at this point. Protection against the damage of a severe solar storm could be done easily and rather inexpensively by the electrical utilities; however it is not being done, and there is no sign that it will be done. A severe solar storm poses little threat to electronics, but would take down the most important power grids in the world for a period of years. This is a special problem in the United States, and is a severe threat in the eastern United States. So, more important than preparing for a nuclear EMP attack is preparing for all of the ramifications of a severe solar storm which would cause an electrical power outage that would, in most areas, last for a period of years. Most standby power systems would continue to function after a severe solar storm, but supplying the standby power systems with adequate fuel, when the main power grids are offline for years, could become a very critical problem.

full text below:
http://www.futurescience.com/emp/emp-protection.html

EMP COMMISHION REPORT

http://www.empcommission.org/index.php

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PostSubject: Sun threat video   Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:46 pm


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