NOAA : Solar Storm May Destroy Civilization As We Know It

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a federal agency that focuses on the condition of the oceans and atmosphere, said that a severe solar storm could cause global chaos, wreck satellite communications and take down the most important power grids in the world for a period of years.

With solar activity expected to peak around 2013, the Sun is entering a particularly active time and big flares like recent one will likely be common during the next few years.

Most solar flares will only cause minor problems with satellites and power grids, but a major flare in the mid-19th century blocked the nascent telegraph system, and some scientists believe that another such even is now overdue.

According to a report by the National Research Council in 2008, a solar storm similar to the ones in the past could cause up to $2 trillion dollars in damage across the globe today.

The NOAA predicted four “extreme” solar emissions which could threaten the planet this decade. Similarly, NASA warned that a peak in the sun’s magnetic energy cycle and the number of sun spots or flares around 2013 could enable extremely high radiation levels.

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39 Responses to NOAA : Solar Storm May Destroy Civilization As We Know It

  1. higley7 says:

    It appears to be business as usual at NOAA.
    Sure, some flares will break through over the next few years of the peak, but with such a quiet solar cycle under way, they still pretend that we have high activity looming.

    Hmmmm. No mention of climate influences.

    • Dr. Killpatient says:

      “Hmmmm. No mention of climate influences.”

      That’s simply because everyone knows that large star at the center of our solar system has absolutely nothing to do with climate. Only the CO2 emitted by evil men has any influence whatsoever.

    • PJB says:

      But surely a blanket of increased [CO2] will protect us from those flares because we know that CO2 is much more powerful than any change in the sun…

      OTOH, a major CME would make for one heck of a lot of sales of new computers, electronic equipment, predator drones……

    • Bone Idle says:

      The Carrington flare of 1859 occured during a relatively quiet solar cycle – 10.

  2. Lance says:

    I count 4 “could’s “. This could be Unprecedented!

  3. Grumpy Grampy ;) says:

    NOAA can not even predict the weather this afternoon with any degree or reliable accuracy. I will probably waste 200 dollars of grass seed because NOAA predicted measurable precipitation here since last Thursday for each day It rained about an inch on a day they predicted a trace.
    It becomes a wait and see if the extreme event happens like Chicken Little predicted.

  4. Owen says:

    The only thing that will destroy civilization are the Climate Liars. They’ll destroy the economy, make us freeze in the dark and kill hundreds of millions of us off to ‘save the planet’ if they get the chance. They are the barbarians of the 21st century.

  5. suyts says:

    lol, I really think our grid will be ok. Geez, I just don’t understand why people have to invent crap to be worried about. There’s plenty that goes on in this world that needs addressed but these whack jobs need to fabricate a crisis. Oh, noes!!! Solar flares are coming to kill our grid!!

    • Amino Acids in Meteorites says:

      Why? Cha-ching! That’s why.

    • Bone Idle says:

      The military have done studies into the effects and repercussions of a solar flare ala the Carrington event.
      The findings and papers are sobering.
      The threat is there.

      However. The possibility of a Carrington event in this solar cycle is not that great.
      It’s a little bit like trying to guess when the next “Big One” will happen in California. You know statistically it will happen – exactly when is pure guesswork. Or when the next VE6 such as Tambora will erupt.

      Of all the world wide natural disaster l scenarios that can be imagined, this is the most likely to occur – only because of our modern electrical driven technological world.

  6. AndyW says:

    More of an inconvenience than a disaster I would have thought. Compare it to a tsunami, there your house washes away and kills you, whilst here your toaster doesn’t toast for a few days. It’s more an economic worry.


    • Bone Idle says:

      The military strategists have envisioned modern society breaking down after one month without electricity.

      All modern cities rely on electricity to pump water and sewage.
      There would be no electric power to pump the gas at your local fuel station.
      How far do you live from the supermarket? (There would be no food available in the supermarket anyway) All food supplies now rely on a computerized inventory, ordering and invoicing system – how will that work without electricity.

  7. Kaboom says:

    Sine the damage they predict is done mostly outside the oceans and atmosphere, NOAA seems to be stepping out of their area of competence.

  8. The sorts writing these articles are precisely the people who, when I tell them I don’t have a mobile phone at all, get a horrified look upon their face ask what I do about a flat tire, or a sudden craving for pizza, or some other emergency. Yeah, I don’t know: what did I do when I was alive 20 years ago, and fewer than 2%* of the population had cellular telephones? Oh, right, I took care of the problem through a magical combination of “figuring shit out” and actually asking people for help when there really was a problem I couldn’t solve.

    Losing the internet for a few weeks (or even months) would be a pain, but I doubt all the beer in the world is going to dry up over night. Some people might actually discover that you don’t need electricity at all to brew beer.

    *wild guess, here. Among the perhaps 1000 or so people that I knew at that time, there was exactly one cellular telephone owner.

  9. Latitude says:

    Dr. Jeff Master Propagandist’s blog is reporting:
    “Last month, Arctic sea ice extent was the lowest ever recorded for any July in the 1979 to 2011 satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.”

    • suyts says:

      lol, interesting. I just did a quicky post showing how this year’s ice extent loss isn’t a function of arctic temps.

      • Latitude says:

        You know……….
        It’s a double edged sword.
        We should make it a point to leave a comment on every one of these things that Steve posts…….
        …but, the people that post on dr. masterbedwetters have the collective intelligence of a raisin

      • Anything is possible says:

        “…but, the people that post on dr. masterbedwetters have the collective intelligence of a raisin”


        In their world, global warming = more hurricanes which increases the chances of one hitting a big population centre, thus satisfying their blood-lust.

        Other that that, they’ve got nothing.

  10. GregO says:

    London isn’t waiting for the solar flares – they are getting a head start!

  11. glacierman says:

    “Solar Storm May Destroy Civilization As We Know It”

    All you need to complete the story is the usual “women, children and minorities hardest hit.”

  12. May Destroy Civilization

    Detroit breathes a sigh of relief.

  13. Andy WeissDC says:

    After 5 tropical non-events, NOAA now has an impending solar non-event.

  14. Brandon Caswell says:

    Does anyone really believe that an event that could disrupt the power grid will take years to fix and get power back up again? It might very well shut down power in areas for days, even the odd area for a month or more, but years? When ice storms actually take down all the power lines they had it fixed in a month.

    I would guess this report shows us what happened to all the unemployeed Y2K scaremongers. Don’t they ever learn.

  15. Bruce says:

    So they are recycling the giant flare meme just in time for the quietest Sun in two centuries? Well done that agency!

    I make prediction: when this one goes flaccid, they will rediscover deadly asteroids and comets. And after that they will remember that Betelgeuse is about to pop off and sterilise all life on Earth, starting with prominent climate sceptics. Then aliens will arrive and turf Mr Obama out of the Oval Office! What can possibly be worse than that?

  16. Jimash says:

    Doesn’t solar activity peaking sort of require some solar activity to commence before that peaking ?
    ‘Cause I am just not seein’ it.

  17. etudiant says:

    This is not entirely fanciful.
    There are massive solar storms on record, most notably the Carrington flare of 1859, which caused telegraphs to run without battery power, simply off the induced current. A much smaller such flare in 1989 caused the Quebec Hydro high voltage system to collapse.
    The major problem from such events is the potential to fry large transformers via the induced current. These units are massive and take a year or more to build. They are key elements in the power system, but almost never redundant, because transformers are normally bullet proof components. A large flare could fry the transformers across a hemisphere and that would take a very long time to fix.
    The Greenland ice cores carry a signal of large solar flares. Studies suggest the Carrington flare was the largest in the past 2000 years, with the second largest about 800 years earlier. A very large solar flare was measured a few years ago, estimated to be comparable in size to the Carrington event, but fortunately not earth directed.
    Given the recent illustration of the bad things that happen when a nuclear power plant looses power,
    it does not seem at all unreasonable for NOAA to try to increase awareness of this risk.

    • PJB says:

      Indeed, this is a consideration, especially when we know that China will be replacing all of its damaged infrastructure BEFORE it sells any equipment to the US/financial services/food stamp/no industrial capacity of America.

    • Jimash says:

      But do such flares arise from an otherwise quiet sun or are the peak periods usually preceded by some level of activity greater than currently observed ? ( seriously asking)

      • etudiant says:

        The big flares seem to move to their own drummer, somewhat independent of the overall cycle. So we get no pass because this is a puny cycle.
        On the other hand, the rare monster flare has to be pointing towards the earth to do damage.
        If it happens on the far side of the sun, on on the edge, as the last big one, on April 2, 2001, the earth is not affected afawk. So it is the luck of the draw.
        The flare intensities are set on a logarithmic scale, so really big ones are enormously bigger than the run of the mill M class big flares. The Carrington flare had telegraph wires setting their surroundings on fire as they sparked. That’s an impressive induced current, which our existing power and data transmission networks are not at all designed to deal with.

    • Sort of like how the awareness of the impending nuclear holocaust made everybody safer and better prepared in the 1950s?

  18. It could be that a quieter sun produces stronger solar storms and brighter Aurea, I was reading about solar activity and auras and came across this article, about the Aurora of November 17,1882
    and it coincides with people skating on the river themes in 1895 not long after.
    The Aurea was later described by Edward Maunder in an article of 1916, who the Maunder minimum (prolonged sunspot minimum roughly spanning 1645 to 1715) was named after Edward Maunder by John A. Eddy in 1976.

    Solar cycle 12 beginning in December 1878 and ending in March 1890.
    There were a total of approximately 736 days with no sunspots during this cycle. A very bright blood-red aurora display happened over New York on April 16, 1882, while significant communication disturbances occurred.

    Solar cycle 12 has a connection with an unusual phenomenon, named a “auroral beam”, which was observed from the Royal Observatory, Greenwich by astronomer Edward Walter Maunder.,_1882

    Have a look at this drawing at the time and the position of the moon, it’s looks like the moon deflected a CME towards the earth.

    During one 30-year period within the Maunder Minimum, astronomers observed only about 50 sunspots, as opposed to a more typical 40,000-50,000 spots in modern times.

    This chart needs a hockey stick at the end of it.


  19. Bone Idle says:

    Read all about it below. Hosted on a local site.

    Read all the technical part and then read the possible scenarios.

    Author is a Retired Naval Vice Admiral – a Physicist.

    Vice Admiral James A Marusek-Solar Storm analysis

  20. Brian says:

    I thought the sun was supposed to be less active over the next several years?

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