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Elham AbolFateh

Science & Technology

Solar storm to hit Earth this week and could cause chaos

Wednesday 11/April/2018 - 03:07 PM
Sada El Balad
Edited by: Yara Sameh

Scientists are preparing for a “geomagnetic storm” – a blast of particles from the Sun’s atmosphere that disrupts the Earth’s magnetic field، daily star reported.

The US Space Weather Prediction Center said a storm alert is in affect for today and tomorrow.

It said a hole in the surface of the Sun was discovered and it is releasing a “high stream of activity”.

The power networks could be brought to their knees by the G1-class storm، the agency added.

People have been warned to expect weak power fluctuations and impacts on satellite operations.

The SWPC added: “Aurora may be visible at high latitudes، that is، northern tier of the US such as northern Michigan and Maine.”

The gigantic coronal hole in the sun’s surface was captured today by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).

Coronal holes like this occasionally open up in the burning star’s magnetic field، releasing large amounts of charged particles and solar winds.

It is widely believed solar storms are one of the “biggest threats” to mankind.

They can cause massive problems for power supplies – triggering blackouts that could prove fatal.

They wreak havoc by triggering false alarms in power system equipment – essentially flipping the off switch.

They can also create drag on satellites and planes in low-Earth orbit، overriding the navigation systems and putting them on course corrections.

A huge solar storm buffeted the Earth in 1859 – and one the same size today would ravage our modern society as it's so dependent on technology.

Anxious space scientists have previously warned the members of the public have no idea of the danger they are in.

Speaking earlier this month، Brian Gaensler، an astrophysicist at the University of Toronto، gave a stark warning of the carnage solar flares can cause.

“The concern here is that if the radiation from a solar flare hits the earth، it can knock out satellites، disrupt mobile phones، and other forms of communication،” he said.

The effects of a solar storm could last months – or even years – as authorities would have to repair all the damaged infrastructure.

Specialist insurance firm Lloyd’s of London estimates the repair bill could cost up to £1.8 trillion.

Experts have warned it is just a matter of time before we suffer another direct hit.

Pete Riley، senior scientist at Predictive Science in San Diego، California، previously predicted there was a 12% chance that Earth will be hit by a storm by 2020.

He said: “Even if it’s off by a factor of two، that’s a much larger number than I thought.

"Initially، I was quite surprised that the odds were so high، but the statistics appear to be correct.

"It is a sobering figure."

In 2015، the British Government published a report into the risks to the UK of severe space weather.

It said an event such as a coronal mass ejection could wreak havoc across the world.

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