Coronal Mass Ejections - Would we be able to

  1. I have read a bit about coronal mass ejections recently and I became concerned by the fact that an ejection the size of the 1859 hit could cause massive damage to our electrical grid, leaving the world in chaos.

    NASA can find out if a coronal mass ejection is heading towards earth over 24 hours in advance, but can NASA tell how big the ejection is and whether or not it is dangerous?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Bobbywhy

    Bobbywhy 1,908
    Gold Member

    astriveforprog, Welcome to Physics Forums!

    This article from Scientific American indicates "not so good yet" at predicting the damage from a CME yet.

    "New findings that improve predictions still fall short of giving humanity a head's up on the havoc a solar storm might wreak on Earth"
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=short-circuiting-civilization

    Here are some sources of information about the subject:

    Solar Storm and Space Weather - Frequently Asked Questions,
    Number 18. What are our current capabilities to predict space weather?
    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/spaceweather/

    NASA makes its Heliophysics research data sets and models continuously available to industry, academia, and other civil and military space weather interests via existing Internet sites. These include the Combined Community Modeling Center (CCMC) at: http://ccmc.gsfc.nasa.gov/

    and the Integrated Space Weather Analysis System (ISWA) at: http://iswa.gsfc.nasa.gov/iswa/iSWA.html
     
  4. Do you think it's likely that such a superstorm (like 1859) could occur this decade? And could we shut off the power grid in time to stop the damage from occurring? Or can the transformers already deal with the extra electricity, one user wrote this:

    - http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/...rms-pose-critical-threat-to-us-infrastructure
     
  5. Bobbywhy

    Bobbywhy 1,908
    Gold Member

    As for predicting the future, I cannot. And, so far, I've not met anyone who can!

    As for our power grid surviving solar storms, there are lots of studies done by the power industry and lots of technology already installed/implemented to prevent damage/shutdowns. What research have you done so far?

    Bobbywhy
     
  6. To be fair, not much at all. I've been reading articles, but I found this article:

    http://seattletimes.com/avantgo/2021395163.html

    Then 6 days ago, this article came out talking about a 24/7 Britain center that is opening:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/28/sun-storm-warning-service_n_4512251.html
     
  7. Chronos

    Chronos 9,936
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The power grid [at least in the US] is already partially defended. The ideas actually originated back in the cold war era when EMP was deemed a major security concern.
     
  8. Chronos

    Chronos 9,936
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Of course not, but, we are not totally unprepared.
     
  9. Ahh, do you think we'd just shut down the power grid for a week if we saw one coming with an hours notice? Thank you for your input. I wasn't sure if that study was just a worse case scenario (if the power grid didn't have a precautionary shutdown).
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2014
  10. davenn

    davenn 3,554
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    2014 Award

    The last major outage due to geomagnetic storming was in 1989 after some major flares and assoc CME's. This knocked out power across parts of eastern Canada. Not sure if much of NE USA was affected or not

    The grid wouldn't need to be shut down for a week. Most geomagnetic storms are over in less than 24 hrs

    Dave
     
  11. I read here though that if we got a storm similar to the 1921 storm, it would knock out power for months. Unless we could shut down the grid in time.

    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2009/21jan_severespaceweather/
     
  12. davenn

    davenn 3,554
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    you misunderstand

    The geomagnetic storm doesn't last for weeks to months, its the repairs that may take weeks to months to be done


    Dave
     
  13. Oh, thank you. So do you tihnk we'd be able to shut off most of the grid?
     
  14. davenn

    davenn 3,554
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    2014 Award

    That shouldnt really be a problem
    The real problem is .... what sort of shutting down to do ? it becomes a very big financial problem
    Imagine the billions of $$$'s that could be lost by companies if they all have to close down production lines, communications etc for say 10 - 24 hrs till the worst of it is over

    Those in charge of forcasting the possible electrical disruptions and their magnitude would have to be very sure of their info

    cheers
    Dave
     
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