Solar proton events - effects

jim mcnamara

P. O’Hare et al. Multiradionuclide evidence for an extreme solar proton event around 2,610 B.P.

Extreme solar events, proton events, are not common. Because they create several iostopes that are otherwise very rare, past events can be detected in tree rings and in ice cores.

Modern events would mostly have effects on power grids, electronics in orbit and on the ground, and astronauts in places like a space station.

The relative abundance of the radionuclides in the ice suggested that the 660 B.C. event was about 10 times more powerful than a 1956 event, the strongest solar storm recorded by instruments. The only known solar storm to rival the ancient storm’s power occurred in A.D. 774–775, an event also recorded in tree rings and ice cores.
This is interesting because one of these events can actually damage some components of the electric grid. One of the consequences might be a required blackstart over a huge geographic area. Meaning electric power would be off for long enough to be a problem for places like hospitals and data centers that have independent backup running. These backup systems usually can run for less than one day. FERC requirements include a minimum 24 hours of offline support power generation for datacenters involved in electric and natural gas transport. This would allow SCADA systems to keep gas and electricity flowing safely. For a short period.
If we have longer downtime because of transformer damage, things become interesting.

Example of "interesting":
The havoc created by the current blackout in Caracas, Venezuela is an example on a smaller scale.
[Relevant for today, March 12, 2019]

What is a blackstart?

What is FERC? Many countries have similar agencies.

What is SCADA?
Last edited:
Thanks for the thread! This is an automated courtesy bump. Sorry you aren't generating responses at the moment. Do you have any further information, come to any new conclusions or is it possible to reword the post? The more details the better.

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