UK & World News
Solar Superstorm: UK 'Must Brace For Threat'
Britain must do more to prepare for a once-in-a-century "solar superstorm", according to experts.
The Government is being urged by the Royal Academy of Engineering to set up a UK Space Weather Board to help cope with a massive radiation blast from the Sun.
Such an explosion could trigger black-outs, knock out one in 10 satellites, and disrupt aircraft and GPS systems.
Statistically a solar superstorm is likely to occur every 100 to 200 years.
Although solar weather events happen regularly, the Earth has not experienced a superstorm since the start of the space age.
The last true superstorm, known as the Carrington event occurred in 1859, when Earth was hit by a tidal wave of energetic particles following a large solar flare.
Induced currents caused by the blast sent sparks flying from telegraph pylons and caused fires. Around the world, night skies were lit up by magnificent aurora displays.
But at that time there were no satellites in orbit or sensitive microchips in the path of the particles.
Experts now warn that another solar superstorm on the scale of the Carrington event is "inevitable" and Britain should be prepared, although the effects are not expected to be cataclysmic.
Professor Paul Cannon, who chaired the Academy's working group on extreme solar weather, said: "Our message is: don't panic, but do prepare - a solar superstorm will happen one day and we need to be ready for it."
With sat-navs likely to be rendered useless in such an event, his advice to motorists was "make sure you continue to keep a map in your car".
Space engineer Keith Ryden, from the University of Surrey, another member of the working group, said flights would be disrupted by failing microchips, but he added: "We're not talking about aircraft dropping out of the sky."
A solar superstorm would have proved lethal for the Apollo astronauts had one occurred when they were on the Moon.
Currently an ageing satellite called Advanced Composition Explorer (Ace) provides around 15 minutes warning of a Coronal Mass Ejection - a huge plasma cloud of charged particles that causes the most damage during a solar storm.
Scientists are concerned about what will happen if Ace fails. A replacement for Ace, called Discover, is due to be launched by the American space agency Nasa in 2014.
what do you think?
Continue to Keep a map in your car? The majority of car users dont know how to use one now-a-days. Personally i think being able to use a map/road atlas should be part of the driving test. Where you have to plan the route taken durng the test. Infact learning how to use a map and compass should be taught to kids in schools and not just by groups like the ACF,ATC or the scouts. Then we wouldnt need to use unreliable technology like the sat-nav
CHRIS PRICE - Hard to believe I know, but Primary school children are taught how to use a compsss and read a map. Like many other skills though, it quickly becomes obsolete when technology like Sat-Nav is available.
more scare mongering and smoke screens, global warming becoming a bit boring so lets make up another. frying tonight!
Can I ask do you know what causes global warming? Or even did you know that the sun is a threat to our planet anyway as its continuously growing and its gravitational pull becoming greater? Not scare mongering when its science and people shouldnt rely on phones, tv, internet etc. It will happen
This is old news anyway. The sun is coming to the peak of its 11year cycle of sunspot activity, which results in increased solar flares. All last year earth was being hit with solar flares. But we havent been in the direct path of a coronal mass ejection for years, we usually graze the edge of them. We had a few big solar storms last year Hence why the northern lights were visible in the north of england. We are well over due for a direct hit and more MUST be done to prevent the after effects. Instead of worrying about how rich the bankers are. Although we are also well over due for a super volcano and a global killer asteroid neither of which we could do a fat lot against
In reply to Jenny Caine re the sun is constantly growing - true. But we don't have to worry about it for about 4 billion years. And I dare say by then humans won't be here any longer. I'm aware as to what causes global warming, but as we're currently still in an ice-age (ice at the poles means ice-age - google it), the earth is simply going through its usual cycle of natural warming. Global warming is a myth.
Matt bang on the button the planet has been warming , freezing for thousands of years long before power stations motor cars!!!
The Sun isn't constantly growing, it loses mass at the rate of 4 million tonnes per second...
Sounds like fun.
Death by solar flare or death by killer asteroid. . . That's your choice on orange world today. All we need is a story about the return of the Black Death and we'll have the set!
If the spanish dont clean the 6000tons of rubbish up off their streets it will return
Schools are already reporting plagues of head-lice. Ricketts and ring worm are also quite common. Perhaps plague is closer than we realise!
Several power cuts where I am. Related perhaps? I read about this back in December. I thought it was meant to happen in early January.
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We can't stop the solar flares whatsoever. All we can do is prepare for a blast. And if sat-navs not working is the biggest issue, then I'm really not concerned at all. Aurora in England? Marvellous!
d and d Phillips
Send Michael Gove to sort it...................
Notice how the solar flare is in the same direction as the asteroid in the other story? Everything online seems to all be //////////////////////////////////// or if the images are white or cyan coloured they are all \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\. So what do I think? I think, the centre of this solar system is almost 100,000,000 miles away and possibly large solar flares have reached the Earth far bigger than anything we know of and so far as I can tell from all the images I see online and stupid, childish colourings by "adults", I don't need to worry about any solar flares for, probably the rest of my life.
As Lance-Corporal Jones would say (bless him) Don't Panic! Don't panic!..
I hope their once in a hundred year warning is more reliable than the 100 year flood comment. After the 2007 floods we were told it was a once in a hundred year event, what rubbish