Solar Storm

I am pretty sure ya'll heard about the Solar storm that is going to happen around the year 2012 and scientist predicts that its gonna wipe out all communication sources like the satellites, gps etc....So if the prediction turns out to be true i wonder how we are gonna rebuild all the destruction.

jim mcnamara
Mentor
We have already had several of these sunspot maxima ("solar storms") since the advent of communications satellites. We are all still here. The internet still works.

What scientific journal article told you that the proverbial skies were going to fall during the next solar maximum?

Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
I am pretty sure ya'll heard about the Solar storm that is going to happen around the year 2012 and scientist predicts that its gonna wipe out all communication sources like the satellites, gps etc....So if the prediction turns out to be true i wonder how we are gonna rebuild all the destruction.
Um some people just want to connect 2012 with something significant. Don't hold one's breath.

As for the solar cycle.

"Contrary to popular belief," says Hathaway, "the solar cycle is not precisely 11 years long." Its length, measured from minimum to minimum, varies: "The shortest cycles are 9 years, and the longest ones are about 14 years." What makes a cycle long or short? Researchers aren't sure. "We won't even know if the current cycle is long or short--until it's over," he says.
. . . .
The most recent solar maximum was in late 2000. The first spotless day after that was Jan 28, 2004. So, using Hathaway and Wilson's simple rule, solar minimum should arrive in late 2006. That's about a year earlier than previously thought.
. . . .
The next solar maximum might come early, too, says Hathaway. "Solar activity intensifies rapidly after solar minimum. In recent cycles, Solar Max has followed Solar Min by just 4 years." Do the math: 2006 + 4 years = 2010.
. . . .

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_maximum
The last solar maximum was in 2001, and the next one has been predicted in 2010-2012. On March 10, 2006 NASA researchers announced that the next cycle would be the strongest since the historic maximum in 1958. . . . .
The solar activity peaked in 2000, and there was a second lower peak in 2002.

March 10, 2006: It's official: Solar minimum has arrived. Sunspots have all but vanished. Solar flares are nonexistent. The sun is utterly quiet.

http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/predict.shtml
We find a starting time of March 2008 with minimum occurring in November or December 2008 and maximum in March or April 2013.

http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/SolarCycle/SC24/index.html [Broken]

Predictions in 2007 (First Solar Cycle 24 Prediction April 2007) put the maximum as early as late 2011 (most intense) to as late as mid-2012 (least intense).

Predictions in 2009 (May 2009 Solar Cycle 24 Prediction Update) put the peak around late 2003 to early 2004, and the intensity being somewhat less than the previous cycle (Cycle 23), which peaked in 2000 (two peaks with a lesser peak in 2002).

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berkeman
Mentor
I am pretty sure ya'll heard about the Solar storm that is going to happen around the year 2012 and scientist predicts that its gonna wipe out all communication sources like the satellites, gps etc....So if the prediction turns out to be true i wonder how we are gonna rebuild all the destruction.

In addition to Jim's and Astro's comments, the increased solar activity may temporarily impair communications, but most likely will not cause physical damage to the satellite infrastructure.

Things have slid a bit and the next solar cycle is now predicted to peak in 2013
and to be below average:

May 8, 2009 -- The Solar Cycle 24 Prediction Panel has reached a consensus decision on the prediction of the next solar cycle (Cycle 24). First, the panel has agreed that solar minimum occurred in December, 2008. This still qualifies as a prediction since the smoothed sunspot number is only valid through September, 2008. The panel has decided that the next solar cycle will be below average in intensity, with a maximum sunspot number of 90. Given the predicted date of solar minimum and the predicted maximum intensity, solar maximum is now expected to occur in May, 2013. Note, this is a consensus opinion, not a unanimous decision. A supermajority of the panel did agree to this prediction.

http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/SolarCycle/

For some reason, very large solar storms do occur during low solar periods. There is evidence the sun is moving towards a Maunder minimum. The sun has for some reason had very large x-ray type flares late in the solar cycle which does not match other cycles. There has also been x-rays generated from small sunspots.

A super solar storm does pose a significant risk to global electrical infrastructure and communications satellites.

The problem is the coronal mass ejection (CME) creates massive electrical fields in the earth’s ionosphere which induces currents in the power grid which will overload and damage power equipment, such power transformers. Large power transformers have a delivery time of roughly a year and as they have a normal life expectancy of 30 years there is limited manufacturing capability. There have been estimates of power outages and widespread brownouts of a year or more, if a Carrington like solar storm were to occur today.

A Carrington event would also have a significant effect on power generation, such nuclear reactors which require a stable load, to dissipated the energy created. I believe many reactors would need to be shutdown.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=bracing-for-a-solar-superstorm

"As night was falling across the Americas on Sunday, August 28, 1859, the phantom shapes of the auroras could already be seen overhead. From Maine to the tip of Florida, vivid curtains of light took the skies. Startled Cubans saw the auroras directly overhead; ships’ logs near the equator described crimson lights reaching halfway to the zenith. Many people thought their cities had caught fire. Scientific instruments around the world, patiently recording minute changes in Earth’s magnetism, suddenly shot off scale, and spurious electric currents surged into the world’s telegraph systems. In Baltimore telegraph operators labored from 8 p.m. until 10 a.m. the next day to transmit a mere 400-word press report."

"Massive electric currents. As the auroras spread from the usual high latitudes to low latitudes, the accompanying ionospheric and auroral electric currents induced intense, continent-spanning currents in the ground. These currents found their way into telegraph circuitry. The multiampere, high-voltage discharges caused near electrocutions and were reported to have burned down several telegraph stations."