A report released a couple years ago by the National Academy of Sciences warned that a solar activity storm could could cause twenty times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina.
A statement recently released by a representative at NASA states that the sun is waking up from a deep slumber, and in the next few years we can expect to see much higher levels of solar activity. That combined with our expanding sensitivity to solar storms as a result of our society becoming more technologically dependent, could create significant societal and economic impacts in coming years.
Solar storms occur when an eruption or explosion on the sun's surface sends radiation or electrically charged particles toward the Earth. Minor storms can interfere with radio signals. A large one can release as much energy as a billion hydrogen bombs. In fact, a large solar storm in May 1859 wreaked international havoc as telegraph wires spontaneously shorted out, causing numerous fires. The event even offered up an unexpected display of the Northern Lights as far south as Rome, Havana and Hawaii! Experts say the modern day equivalent of such a storm could leave millions of people without electricity, running water or phone service.
Well, there is hope...
The Space Weather Enterprise Forum kicks off today in Washington, DC and on the forefront of its agenda is the next peak of solar activity expected in 2013, and how planet Earth will respond.
The Forum, which is part of the National Space Weather Program (NSWP), falls beneath the overall national interagency initiative to prepare the country, and ultimately the world, to deal with technological vulnerabilities associated with the space environment. Some of the agencies involved include NOAA, NASA, USGS and FAA.
To help keep us safe and to avoid that which is stated above, the Forum will focus on critical infrastructure protection to improve the nation’s ability to prepare, avoid, mitigate, respond to and recover from potentially devastating impacts of space weather events on our health, economy, and national security.