Solar storms, which are capable of devastating a technologically-dependent civilization, are more common than initially thought, according to a recent study.
Known scientifically as coronal mass ejections, solar storms occur when the Sun hurls a massive blob of plasma towards Earth that’s capable of wiping out satellites, telecommunications, power grids and anything else that requires electromagnetic waves.
One such storm occurred in 1859 and is known as the Carrington Event, but a new study suggests that the incident was not that unique in the course of human history.
“The Carrington Event was considered to be the worst-case scenario for space weather events against the modern civilization… but if it comes several times a century, we have to reconsider how to prepare against and mitigate that kind of space weather hazard,” wrote the study’s lead author and astrophysicist Hisashi Hayakawa.
The study proposed that solar storms can actually occur several times a century, including one in 1989, and that the Carrington Event was unique more in its intensity than its frequency.
Of course, it’s goes without saying that civilization today is more dependent on technology than it was in 1859 – or even 1989, for that matter.
Case in point, the Internet grew in popularity in the 1990s, with the first web browser being introduced in 1990.
“Of all the technologies that changed our lives, perhaps the most profound of the last 50 years has been the web,” according to an article by ZDNet. “But it wasn’t the ability to hyperlink documents that made the most impact.”
“Instead, it was the application that presented all that information to users, the browser.”
At this point, the only solution is to shut down technological infrastructure and power grids in preparation for a coming solar storm.
“There are a variety of ways to protect things like transmission lines form intense solar storms, Universe Today stated. “Capacitor banks, Faraday cages, and special dampening devices could all help.”
“But none of them are a perfect solution, and one 2017 study suggested it could cost up to $30 billion dollars just to protect the power-grid in the USA.”
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