White House gets serious about space weather

English: An view of solar flare Sun taken by S...

English: An view of solar flare Sun taken by Skylab III ATM Apollo Telescope Mount. Image ID: S74-23458 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From EOS,  Vol. 93, No. 25, 19 June 2012

White House and Agencies Focus on Space Weather Concerns

“Space weather is a serious matter that can affect human economies around the world,” Tamara Dickinson, a senior policy analyst with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), told attendees at the 2012 Space Weather Enterprise Forum, held 5 June in Washington, D. C. With the 2013 solar maximum nearing, researchers and government agencies are focusing on how the greater solar activity could affect our increasingly technological society and what measures can be taken to help prevent or mitigate any threats to the electricity grid, GPS, and other potentially vulnerable technologies.

Dickenson said that there has been an increased awareness about space weather in the White House and that President Barack Obama recently has requested briefing memos on the topic. She highlighted several efforts the administration is taking related to space weather, including a forthcoming national Earth observation strategy, which could be released in July and will include an assessment of space weather. She explained that the strategy document will be part of the fiscal year 2014 presidential budget request and that it will be updated every 3 years.

Dickinson added that the administration also is acting on earlier federal interagency recommendations to ready the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) mission for launch in 2014 as a near-term risk reduction measure to provide space weather data; there is concern about the continued healthy operation of the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE), which has gone well beyond its expected mission life.

Earlier this year, Obama directed OSTP and the national security staff “to aggressively move forward with space weather mitigation efforts,” Dickinson said. Based on the president’s direction, she restructured OSTP’s Geomagnetic Interagency Working Group. “We are focusing on achievable, strategic implementation actions, at least initially focused on the [electricity] grid,” she said. Dickinson noted that she has included additional federal agencies in the working group. However, she also said that OSTP itself now has only one staff member working on space weather. With the departure of two OSTP staff in March, “it was determined that OSTP should consolidate all the space weather activities under one person,” she said.

Full story here

64 thoughts on “White House gets serious about space weather

  1. It looks like Obama is looking for a diversion from adverse predictions of energy reliability boards. It wasn’t the closed coal power plants, it was the Sun, (or may Bush).

  2. Isn’t the tem “Space Weather” an oxymoron?
    That aside the potential damage from solar radiation to countries dependent upon computers is huge. I have all of our valuable electronic equipment (computers, home cinema etc) connected to mains electricity via surge suppressors to prevent damage. A few years ago during the bad old days of dial up internet, there was a thunderstorm and lightning strike nearby. The one computer we had then, survived due to the surge suppressor but the internal modem connected to the telephone line was fried. Fortunately the cost was just a few pounds and 5 minutes work. With a solar storm, half the planet would be affected, the costs would be enormous. I think President Obama is wise to look into this.

  3. While watching an almost fully automated Miller/Coors Brewery in Albany, GA in action one couldn’t help but notice the lack of working people. Personally, I wish for something to melt the vulnerable technologies causing them to be abandoned and put PEOPLE back to work.
    Here is what is a link to what is helping put 16% of our workforce out of action. http://www.egeminusa.com/

  4. I suppose that if space weather exists, then its longterm partner must be space climate? Is Tamara Dickinson a space climate change warmist or realist?

    Only slightly less poignant, Frank Saunders, chief forecaster at the Met Office has been talking to Sarah Rainey of the Telegraph. He is quoted thus: “I’m assessing the risks and putting the picture into words people can understand.The computer* is good but it has limitations – my job is to add human interpretation.”

    *Met Office’s “supercomputers”, which use equations to forecast the weather at a rate of 125 trillion calculations a second.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/weather/9334057/Whats-the-outlook-inside-the-Met-Office.html

    Last words from Rob Varley, operations and services director: “It’s a rotten June, absolutely rotten. Sadly, there’s nothing we can do about it – we hate it just as much as you do. When I hear people grumbling about the weather, I want to shout at them: ‘You live in Britain, what on earth did you expect?’”.

  5. Not a ‘staff of one’ for much longer I suspect. With all that computing power to hand I have no doubt The Met Office could probably lend a hand if asked nicely.

    Duncan B (UK)

  6. “White House and Agencies Focus on Space Weather Concerns”

    So they should, solar magnetic cycle is probably the most important variable in the global climate events.

  7. Any hope that in passing somebody might notice Svensmark/Cern/Cloud experriment/particles/cooling and come to the correct conclusion about the billions wasted on CAGW?

  8. Clever move by NASA.

    More people are coming to understand that sunspots are the main cause of climate trends, We can’t have that, can we? If we can associate DANGER with sunspots, it will be easier to demonize real scientists who want to focus on the ordinary effects of sunspots.

  9. …what measures can be taken to help prevent or mitigate any threats to the electricity grid, GPS, and other potentially vulnerable technologies.

    The GPS constellation has survived pretty well, so far. The shelf-life for the Block IIR series (the last group launched) expires this coming August, though…

  10. Hmmm. One wonders if, after a few years, they and the IPCC suddenly ‘discover’ that the sun really DOES have a major effect on climate? They need an Out from their failed hypothosis of ‘man-made’ global warming, after all…

  11. And of course, all those Skeptics who pointed to such things for decades, will Still be Wrong.

  12. I thought the greatest threat to the US supply grid was the EPA shutting down power stations on spurious grounds.

  13. Space Situational Awareness is a real effort with serious concerns. Space weather (e.g., solar events that can effect Earth or human systems) can have produce power outages, loss communications, lost space assets or harm the people on the Space Station.

    Interestingly enough, the Earth-Sun connection is an area of investigation that will likely bring down the theories of CO2 driven global climate, and humanity’s role in warming.

    ESA has taken the lead on this by doing the obvious – integrating data from satellite, balloon an ground based programs to provide a clearer picture of natural threats from space (as opposed to the alien form of threats:

    http://www.esa.int/esaMI/SSA/index.html

    Given the potential impact to lives from severe solar events, this is a laudable goal. Especially if it provides opportunities to study the link between Sun and the Earth’s climate.

  14. A scapegoat is needed to fill the political void as our electricity supply dwindles and becomes no longer steady or reliable.

  15. Obama could do no better than to have Dr Leif Svensmark’s hypothesis explained to him also:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/04/24/svensmarks-cosmic-jackpot-evidence-of-nearby-supernovae-affecting-life-on-earth/

    Timely post coinciding with the Thirteenth International Solar Wind Conference organized by the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s Center of Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research (CSPAR) and the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, under the direction of Dr’s Gary P Zank and Jim Spann. The meeting itself will take place at the Sheraton Keauhou Bay on the Big Island, Hawaii, USA, from 18-22 June 2012.

    http://www.sw13.org/

  16. If a Carrington Event took out the high voltage transformers, the USA could rapidly descend back to a third world nation. Why are we not spending the billions on preparing to survive a direct Coronal Mass Ejection event rather than fretting over a few inches rise in sea level?
    “One person” does not sound like much of a “commitment”!

  17. Obama is only interested if he can squeeze some campaign money from someone or some votes.
    Understanding the phenomena is way beyond his capabilities.

  18. I give it eight to ten weeks before the first peer reviewed paper in ‘Nature’ revealing how research has proven that human factors effect ‘space weather’ – with graphs and everything!

  19. James Bull says:
    June 16, 2012 at 3:19 am
    I thought the greatest threat to the US supply grid was the EPA shutting down power stations on spurious grounds.

    =====================================================================
    Ding! Ding! Ding! Give the man a ceee-gar!

  20. I would be careful about this one. My lack of trust in the past several administrations has come to a crescendo in this one. This could easily transform into regulations that you have smart meters, power rationing, and all the rest of the “green” agenda. While it is important that we have a robust power infrastructure, I suspect that this is but another foot in the door to open it for other political ends.

  21. Leif Svalgaard says:
    June 16, 2012 at 5:13 am
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Thanks Leif. Another mixup. Apologies again.

  22. “We are focusing on achievable, strategic implementation actions, at least initially focused on the [electricity] grid,”
    Loud empty bureaucratic jargon from the people who terminated the US ability to go into space! And as for the US electricity grid, it has more to fear from Obama’s alternative schemes than from the activities of the sun.

  23. You foolish persons.

    Do you not understand it is only necessary for our great political masters to pass a law in order to make the Sun behave.

    And naturally to set up very well renumerated committees to ensure the Sun does what it is told. By Them.

    All paid for by You.

    So be grateful. Very grateful.

    Kindest Regards

  24. alan says:
    June 16, 2012 at 6:03 am
    “We are focusing on achievable, strategic implementation actions, at least initially focused on the [electricity] grid,”
    Loud empty bureaucratic jargon from the people who terminated the US ability to go into space!

    On the positive side, since Obie changed NASA’s mission from exploring space to making the Muslim world feel good about itself and since NASA no longer has the capability to launch replacement GPS satellites, we can kill two birds with one stone (that’s not a death threat) by outsourcing the launches to, say, Yemen…

  25. I’m shocked, but glad, people are actively addressing this potential catastrophy. It is far more potent and real than AGW. The societies of the developed world are totally dependant upon our satellites and wireless communication systems. A major CME could knock out several to many satellites and disrupt/destroy power grids. It would send the US back to the 1700’s with only 10% of our population capable of coping with the loss of our economic systems. A major CME has knocked out our power grids before, long before we bacame so dependent upon silicon technology. I hope we have the time to put preventative systems into place before a really big CME can send the human race back 300 years. Chaos, death and destruction would be unimaginable, even for Hollywood screne writers.

    I’m not generally a pessimest, but this potential threat scares me!

    Bill

  26. Gee, do you think this new space weather budget will include funding to study the effects of decreasing sunspots impact on Galactic Cosmic Rays hitting Earth and the subsequent increase of cloud cover, albedo and global cooling as postulated by the Svensmark Effect?…

    Hmmmm… Methinks perhaps not….LOL!

  27. I keep hearing that a major CME could take out the electric grid and that it could last for a long time because replacement transformers would not be available without very long lead times. It would make sense to me that the long lead time items should be manufactured and stationed in strategic locations to mitigate the down time. As I understand it, it is more of a matter of when rather than a matter of if.

  28. This is the science that GISS should be doing, not terrestrial climate. Hopefully one day Congress will force that issue, retire Hansen, and direct GISS to study space, or be de-funded.

  29. “Space weather is a serious matter that can affect human economies around the world”

    Are there other forms of economy other than ‘human’. Weird stuff

  30. A black hole has appeared in space! The space weather commitee are looking into it! (or does a black hole dissapear in space?)

  31. John Collins: ” It would make sense to me that the long lead time items should be manufactured and stationed in strategic locations to mitigate the down time.”

    So, a Strategic Transformer Reserve? Or else, let power companies build up a stock of transformers (they already know that’s a good idea due to smaller natural emergencies and purchasing market forces) and encourage them to pay a little extra to manufacturers who invest in extra equipment capacity.

  32. ShrNfr says:
    June 16, 2012 at 5:54 am

    I would be careful about this one. My lack of trust in the past several administrations has come to a crescendo in this one. This could easily transform into regulations that you have smart meters, power rationing, and all the rest of the “green” agenda. While it is important that we have a robust power infrastructure, I suspect that this is but another foot in the door to open it for other political ends.
    ________________________
    Exactly. You are not alone in your mistrust, which is obvious in conversations and around the web. The question is: is ‘someone’ figuring all the angles and has a plan for the usurpation of power- no matter which way things turn- and may in fact be actively working to drive the mistrust to a boiling point?

    My first thought when they installed my ‘smart meter” was, ‘how well will this withstand EMPs, etc’.

  33. It would send the US back to the 1700′s with only 10% of our population capable of coping with the loss of our economic systems.

    Hail, fellow traveller! You must be one of the 10% who survived what we now call “The Y2K Bug”.

    But, seriously: it’s not that we should ignore the possibility, but there are already myriads of backup generators in the US. So you’ll be able to go to a hospital, emergency broadcasts will go out, & Arby’s will still be serving. The only people who will be SOL are the dips in Cah-lee-for-nee-ah who actually depend on the high-tension lines, since they have so little generation capacity within the state.

  34. I may be going into my survivalist mode with this post to be warned! I’ve been looking (as an amateur) into CME’s and such for a while, since the Sun is changing so much. Here are a couple of points I’m pondering.

    1. It’s my understanding that in a CME event like in 1859, all microprocessors would be toast. In Europe, the United States and developed Asia this would, as a poster above stated, shove us back to the 17 or 18 hundreds anyway. Satellites, the power grid, communications of all forms, manufacturing, food production, transportation (ground, air, sea and rail) would be shut down completely and for an extended period. Perhaps even our ability to make war would degenerate into clubs, bows and arrows and maybe rifles and pistols. Just having a surge supressor on your computer won’t protect against such an event.
    2. In 1859 the big CME stopped telegraph communication for a few days or hours. Those lines were arial in nature, and directly exposed to the magnetic flux. These days most plant is buried whether glass (fiber optics) or copper. Would that mitigate the effects of a CME to some extent? I understand the electronics at the end would be fried and useless.
    3. How much “hardening” would it take to protect equipment in a similar event?
    4. In the case of rail transport, how long would it take say the USA to reverse engineer a steam engine or get enough old examples working to at least start the tranport industry going.
    5. How can I design a harness for my three cats to pull a small wagon. (SARC!)

    I’m interested in what others think here…as I said, communications I understand – physics and such not so much…

    Mike

  35. Just an add-on to my post above. If my understanding is correct (fried microprocessors) then almost everything we depend on will become inoperable. The chips are not just in computers, they are in manufacturing milling machines, the engine of your car or truck, in the railway engines, even the portable alternators (generators) usually have some form of processor in them. On the farm, an old Fordson tractor will probably work, but the modern one may as well be a boat anchor because it will not start or run.

  36. When there is a Carrington Event we will have several days warning. If power companies disconnected the transformers singlely or in groups from the grid, would they not be protected? I assume the disconnecting part of the plan is very difficult and would leave everyone in the USA on generator power. 1700s practice for several weeks but not for years.

  37. Kelvin Vaughan says: June 16, 2012 at 8:13 am
    A black hole has appeared in space! The space weather commitee are looking into it! (or does a black hole dissapear in space?)

    The black hole is where trillions of dollars of taxpayer money have disappeared.

  38. “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. ” H.L. Mencken

    Is this the new Y2K?

  39. Rich Lambert says:
    June 16, 2012 at 10:09 am
    Is this the new Y2K?
    Unfortunately not. This is real. Of course, the alarms are always a bit overblown, but there is a real issue here.

  40. a jones said:
    June 16, 2012 at 6:44 am
    Do you not understand it is only necessary for our great political masters to pass a law in order to make the Sun behave.
    ———————————————–
    Aye! obama need only issue an edict regulating sunspots and solar flares ;)

  41. It is just small steps from a politician to go from Global Warming to Universal Warming…but a huge step for our wallets.

  42. “White House gets serious about space weather”

    Sounds par. Now they want to weasel their way in and control the national electric grid from the White House. Sadly, I voted for the man, but right now I just want him to keep his hands off this country. You think this is for the government to help the electic companies finance backup transformers or high-speed trips in case of a pulse? I seriously doubt it. That would be a simple one-time expense. No, everything I can see is they want to weaken and disassemble the grid and this is a smooth talking way talk to get their feet into all utility companies and jack the pricesfor our kids, not lowering them.

  43. Wayne, you’re not the only person feeling ‘buyer’s remorse’.
    I really though we’d get stronger as a country and more together as people.
    Was I as sap or what?
    I was in a group in the ’60s. We played an event in DC for the VP’s War on Poverty.
    Don’t look like that worked out too well either.

  44. Depending on duration, when a disruptive CME encounters the Earth, the greatest immediate damage will occur in the hemisphere of impact. Pray that it involve the hemisphere of least damage – the Pacific Ocean.

  45. Back in ’73, I listened to a local IEEE talk by a Engineer/Scientist from Magnavox about electromagnetic pulse. At the time, this was freshly declassified information. The only thing I remember that he said (I can’t even remember his name) was to assume the flux from an air burst of a nuclear device over the geographic center of the US would be 50 KV/meter over virtually all of the continental US. In other words the potential developed in of a piece of wire a meter long perpendicular to line of sight to the burst, could be fifty thousand volts. A millimeter long, 50 volts.

    Virtually all electrical devices would be disrupted by insulation breakdown. Not all would suffer permanent damage, and many could potentially be restarted.

    Electronics were much less evolved at the time, semiconductor devices were fairly large and easy to fry. The sorts of hardening techniques presented that were then being developed for military and critical civil applications included supplementing solid state junctions with dead end reverse polarity legs to cancel the effect.

    But this scenario was just from a Soviet nuke. I wonder what the Sun could do.

  46. “White House gets serious about space weath”

    This would be buffoonish and laughable, just another asinine cartoon, if we could be sure it wasn’t a ‘violent space weather’ ploy to extend bureaucratic controls even to the limits of earth’s orbit and beyond. Will the current administration use this to exert even greater dictatorial ‘management’ of all forms of US energy production AND distribution, through the Department of Energy and the EPA shared regulatory control? Is this another ‘reason’ we need ‘one world government’? Ye Gods, I am sick of their crap!

    We can continue to complain about the Obama administration, his EPA, and the zealots in and out of congress that support their economic suicide…….. or we can commit ourselves right now to work our butts off until November to defeat as many of them as possible in the coming elections!

    If not Now, When? If not You, Who?
    MtK

  47. Stark Dickflüssig says:
    June 16, 2012 at 8:45 am
    But, seriously: it’s not that we should ignore the possibility, but there are already myriads of backup generators in the US. So you’ll be able to go to a hospital, emergency broadcasts will go out, & Arby’s will still be serving. The only people who will be SOL are the dips in Cah-lee-for-nee-ah who actually depend on the high-tension lines, since they have so little generation capacity within the state.

    EMP will either fry the wiring in the backups or reverse the polarity in their coils — and unless they’re pull-start, either will be moot. When Viktor Belenko defected in his MiG-25P in ’76, the engineers who disassembled it couldn’t understand why the Sovs were still using vacuum tubes in their ‘lectronic gear, until a USAF tech told them the “obsolete” technology had a better chance of surviving the EMP from a nuke.

    If you want to protect your electronic toys, make a Faraday cage for each one. No guarantee that you’ll have ‘net access in the event of a solar burp, but your stored information will be safe.

  48. David L. Hagen says:
    June 16, 2012 at 4:57 am

    If a Carrington Event took out the high voltage transformers, the USA could rapidly descend back to a third world nation. Why are we not spending the billions on preparing to survive a direct Coronal Mass Ejection event rather than fretting over a few inches rise in sea level?
    “One person” does not sound like much of a “commitment”!

    The concept of “Space Weather Mitigation” intrigues me. Since the primary effect of a Carrington is on long wires in transmission lines, the obvious best way to “mitigate” against them burning up is to get rid of them. Energy needs to become as local as politics. A windmill in every pot!

  49. Want to know more of what really happened during the 1859 Carrington event? Here’s some detailed info between the various telegraph operators themselves during those days in 1859:

    http://www.h2g2.com/entry/A43562586

    Also, I wish some of the scared (or scare mongers) would just apply a little high school physics to this matter of solar storms and the grid. A magnet flux across all three of three-phase transmission lines is applied equally and in phase, so there is no huge differential between any line and the other two legs. Huge voltage just doesn’t occur but the differentials of the metal wires to ground does occur and most have voltage sensing somewhere in the system to the ground. Automatic equipment may sense this and trip. Want to know more of what really happened in Quebec in 1989?

    http://www.ips.gov.au/Educational/1/3/12

    So many have applied their imaginations in place of history and simple science. I’m not saying there would not be any problems, most of the far isolated edges of the grid, Australia outback, Alaska, and rural Canada, and others, use the single-line-earth-return systems for saving cost and this could be a problem in extraneous e.m.f. inductions over long lines, just like back in 1859 with the single-line telegraph lines. The grid might show imbalances and trip due the very low frequency a.c. (basically varying d.c.) fluctuations and transformer saturation as occurred in Quebec but I see no huge melt-down disaster. If you read the story in Quebec it was more a problem of LOW voltage, not high. Maybe take a refresher on the history, electricity, and magnetism, and the actual grid.

    Remember, lines not connected in a strong magnetic flux do, well… nothing. Hear of an impending solar storm, SDO and SOHO will know… unplug your computer and devices if you are frightened of the plug.

    I just get so tired of all of the man-ufactured doom and gloom.

    And bwdave, a huge solar storm will never be as a nuclear e.m.f. pulse device detonated a few kilometers over your head unless the sun goes nova (but, it’s too small, and young), so I also don’t ever seeing even 1/10000th of the 50,000 volts per meter you mentioned from a CME.

    Sure wish some operators from within large electric plants or electrical engineers who build them would get on here and clear up some of the confusion, I’m not immune to it either. Need more info.

  50. wayne says:
    June 17, 2012 at 6:27 am
    “Want to know more of what really happened during the 1859 Carrington event? Here’s some detailed info between the various telegraph operators themselves during those days in 1859:
    http://www.h2g2.com/entry/A43562586

    Excellent historical summary of the 1859 event, Wayne!
    That was an enjoyable and informative ‘read’.
    Thanks!
    MtK

  51. Ok, There’s lots of talk about the power grid. Mark has some physics to back his assertion that the power grid, from a high transmission line standpoint anyway, will be fine…Hummm, OK, for argument I’ll accept that. EXCEPT – my post is centered on the burnout of integrated circuits including microprocessors not the voltage differential of arial high voltage transmission lines…and not just your computer. Sorry, but that’s a minor issue.

    As little as 25 volts across the wrong junctions will fry an integrated circuit. Boiling down my first post, can a CME fry integrated circuits – and if so how well protected are these chips? Police use a pulse to shut down automobile engines by frying its chips. Can a CME of 1859 amplitude do that?

    If so how will the computers that control our power grid function? I think a valid question, and one without political overtones. I get the political overtones.

    Mike

  52. The time interval of the solar cycle just before the notorious Carrington Event and our last solar cycle, 23, were a very close match although the details of the peaks were different. We are now coming up on almost the same equivalent time in the solar cycle when that event happened. This does not mean another such event will occur or that it will be directed toward the Earth if it does.

    BTW, I have sometimes wondered if a solar flare could be so large that its magnetic field might force a reversal of the Earth’s magnetic field.

  53. Thanks MtN. That is a very interesting read isn’t it. I didn’t get the entire article read until tonight and noticed it gave me the one big missing parameter, ~-1600 nT, of the field strength produced in 1859. I’m going to calculate a bit with that later. Also noticed our friend Leif is referenced within and it has a link to one of his papers. Good read also Leif!

    Seems to me that these CME magnetic fluxes only affect on a very large distance scale. Many kilometer wires, greater voltage to ground and possible large currents, and was surprised that the maximum effect happened on north-south lines, I had wrongly assumed east-west would put the magnetic flux perpendicular. Got to think on that one. I also had never considered long rail road lines, long pipe lines, etc.; those are all susceptible when left unprotected but sound like they are already frequently grounded at intervals to remove this danger of excess voltage between any two points for this very reason.

    One point six micro-Tesla… really can’t envision that affecting any tiny iPhone or PC due to their physical smallness. Calculate it. Now satellites might be difference case. They could be physically pushed out of physical alignment with the ground stations or I guess possibly accumulate large static charges from the ions, that I’m not versed enough to comment on those aspects.

  54. Stark Dickflüssig says:
    June 16, 2012 at 8:45 am
    It would send the US back to the 1700′s with only 10% of our population capable of coping with the loss of our economic systems.

    Hail, fellow traveller! You must be one of the 10% who survived what we now call “The Y2K Bug”.

    But, seriously: it’s not that we should ignore the possibility, but there are already myriads of backup generators in the US. So you’ll be able to go to a hospital, emergency broadcasts will go out, & Arby’s will still be serving. The only people who will be SOL are the dips in Cah-lee-for-nee-ah who actually depend on the high-tension lines, since they have so little generation capacity within the state.

    All with nifty microprocessor controlled start sequences and microprocessor controlled automatic transfer switches. You might be able to work around that, but the solution will be ugly and slow to materialize. It may well be that the only one with an operable generator will be the farmer running a 1950’s John Deere with a PTO tied to an equally ancient motor/genset.

  55. Awright, I got my old “Blue Goose” Fordson Tractor and Hawkins is thinking GREEN with his John Deere…any other takers??? Sorry Hawk but looks like I’m the skeptic here. (If I need to say it
    SARC!)

    Mike

  56. The real concern in a CME event is damage to huge power generation transformers. These are connected to long power lines that act as antennae for the very low frequency, high amplitude, electric current surges induced by the CME event if and when it strikes the Earth. If these transformers are not disconnected in time or otherwise protected, it may take many months to replace them. I do not think local power-pole transformers are considered to be at risk for known magnitude events.

    The notorious 1859 Carrington Event only had the telegraph system to disrupt. Some telegraph operators were reportedly shocked by strange induced voltages during that event. Again, the important factor here, was the presence of long-wire electromagnetic antennae.

  57. “The real concern in a CME event is damage to huge power generation transformers. These are connected to long power lines that act as antennae for the very low frequency, high amplitude, electric current surges induced by the CME event if and when it strikes the Earth.”

    Spector, I agree with that completely and your right on the very low frequency, almost half-wave direct current nature of the induced voltage and you can get this by “reading between the lines” of what the telegraph operators were reporting in 1859. Their galvanometers were pegged to one side over long periods, not oscillating that points to steady or very slowly varying d.c. only.

    When wuwt had another article on this same subject about a year ago, I read somewhere (can’t find it again) that it was this heavy d.c. component that downed the Quebec transformers. Said these transformers are not designed nor built to handle heavy underlying direct currents under the 50 or 60 a.c. load. Sure looks like there should be some way to shunt that d.c. to ground at the ends of these lines and I’m not sure if that is not exactly what utilities are doing right now, on the surface that seems this is all the protection needed but can’t seem to find any confirmation.

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