# Coronal Mass Ejections - Would we be able to

1. Jan 4, 2014

### astriveforprog

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. Jan 4, 2014

### Bobbywhy

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 [Broken]

Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
3. Jan 4, 2014

### astriveforprog

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

Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
4. Jan 4, 2014

### Bobbywhy

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

5. Jan 4, 2014

### astriveforprog

http://seattletimes.com/avantgo/2021395163.html [Broken]

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

Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
6. Jan 4, 2014

### Chronos

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.

7. Jan 4, 2014

8. Jan 5, 2014

### Chronos

Of course not, but, we are not totally unprepared.

9. Jan 5, 2014

### astriveforprog

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. Jan 5, 2014

### davenn

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. Jan 5, 2014

### astriveforprog

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. Jan 5, 2014

### davenn

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. Jan 5, 2014

### astriveforprog

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

14. Jan 6, 2014

### davenn

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