Earth could be hit by a cataclysmic solar storm over the next 100 years, causing satellite failures, blackouts and other problems. The warning was given in a new study by the United States Geological Survey conducted by geophysicist Jeffrey J. Love.
Solar flares. (Source: Wikimedia Commons / NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)
At the article, published in July by Space Weather magazine, analyzed data from the two largest geomagnetic storms that hit Earth. The bottom line: There is a relatively high chance that a more powerful event will happen soon, probably within 100 years.
Unlike threats such as asteroid impacts and super volcano eruptions, the timeframe for a cataclysmic solar storm It is comparatively short, according to the scientists.
1859 and 1921 solar storms
Cited in the study, the geomagnetic storms of 1859 and 1921 caused much damage. The first has caused power grid problems and fires, as well as affecting telegraph systems in North America and Europe. Also known as the Carrington Event, she produced auroras in many places.
The solar storm of 1921 was similar: broken telegraphs and telephones and aurora viewing even in low latitude locations. It also caused the disruption of the New York train system and may have been responsible for the occurrence of three major fires on the same day in Sweden, the United States and Canada.
Power grids were damaged in both superstorms. (Source: Pixabay)
Initially, the 1859 storm was believed to be the strongest storm ever recorded, but the American geophysicist suggests another picture by analyzing the Disturbance Storm Time (Dst) index, which calculates the disturbance level of the Earth's magnetic field.
It is estimated that the first reached intensity between -850 and -1050 nanoteslas (nT), while the second would have reached -907 nT. Earth's Dst index is -20 nT on average, and any value below -250 nT indicates solar storms.
Effects of a solar storm today
Today, the consequences of a cataclysmic solar storm would be even worse, because of our heavy reliance on power grids, satellites, and communication systems.
According to Jeffrey Love, you can't say that would be the end of the world, but there would be a general disruption of various services, causing many problems.