Dangerous new groups of sunspots have unleashed a storm of huge solar flares which threaten grid connections worldwide, as astronomers predict two years of storms which could cause chaos on Earth. Airlines and energy suppliers are on alert as the largest solar storm in five years threatens to disrupt flights and power lines
Thirteen years ago these storms shut down the grid in Quebec, Canada.
It took just 92 seconds to kill the grid after solar flares bombarded the area, but far worse could be in store. Brilliant scientist and sun-forecaster John Kappenman, a former energy company employee who now runs his own consultancy, says that in the event of a mega-flare which takes out Earth’s power supplies, most other critical infrastructures such as water and food supplies will begin to crumble within a few hours.
But not all electricity sources will be equally affected.
Off-Grid power supplies will be protected if the correct measures are taken. This includes switching off and disconnecting all appliances. Living a low-energy, self-sufficient life is also a valuable defence against the coming solar storms.
The new group of sun spots include an X1 class flare, the most powerful kind, which could disrupt satellites and electricity networks – and even affect Earth’s magnetic field.
Material erupts from the sun with each flare, though due to the fact that this active region is still The blasts, the most powerful solar activity of the year so far, released highly charged particles into space, but because the active region 1429 is off to the ‘side’ of the sun, the blasts will not affect Earth too badly, and should only cause increased aurora or Northern lights.So far, region 1429 has let loose two M-class flares and one X-class flare. The group of sun-spots is several times larger than Earth. The peak of solar activity is expected by 2013.
Dr Matthew Penn, of the National Solar Observatory in Arizona, said: ‘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.This can impact our daily lives – power systems, communication systems, navigation systems.We expect to have more disruptions to our daily lives in the next two years because of solar activity.’
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