Monday, February 21, 2011

How dangerous are powerful solar storms?

Our Sun is returning back to life after the relatively long period of decreased solar activity. The newspapers are already full of articles which warn us that powerful solar storms have the potential to disrupt communications on Earth, and several scientists such as University of Colorado Boulder Professor Daniel Baker believe that solar flare has already disrupted some ground communications on our planet.

On February 15th powerful solar storms released billions of tons of charged particles toward Earth (the so called coronal mass ejections). Such large number of these particles has ignited a geomagnetic storm in Earth's magnetic field, and geomagnetic storm can lead to many negative effects such as disruption of airline navigation systems and power grids.

Many scientists believe that our planet can withstand these powerful solar storms without major damage but nonetheless it is of vital importance to further develop different protective technologies because there is also the chance that solar storm might become more powerful in years to come.

Our society heavily depends on technology, and solar power storms certainly have the potential to negatively change our modern way of life, and so as the Professor Baker says "we can't afford to let our guard down".

The good news is definitely the fact that after many years of observation scientists were able to gather plenty of knowledge about these space phenomenons, and because of this knowledge we can build more robust systems to withstand the effects of solar power storms.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, several more coronal mass ejections may reach Earth's atmosphere in the next day or two. Hopefully, without any serious consequence.