Nasa warns solar flares from ‘huge space storm’ will cause devastation

A solar flare erupts from the sun in this image taken by NASA's SOHO satellite on July 1, 2002. A solar flare erupts from the sun in this image taken by NASA's SOHO satellite on July 1, 2002.

From the Telegraph

Video link here

National power grids could overheat and air travel severely disrupted while electronic items, navigation devices and major satellites could stop working after the Sun reaches its maximum power in a few years.

Senior space agency scientists believe the Earth will be hit with unprecedented levels of magnetic energy from solar flares after the Sun wakes “from a deep slumber” sometime around 2013, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

In a new warning, Nasa said the super storm would hit like “a bolt of lightning” and could cause catastrophic consequences for the world’s health, emergency services and national security unless precautions are taken.

Scientists believe it could damage everything from emergency services’ systems, hospital equipment, banking systems and air traffic control devices, through to “everyday” items such as home computers, iPods and Sat Navs.

Due to humans’ heavy reliance on electronic devices, which are sensitive to magnetic energy, the storm could leave a multi-billion pound damage bill and “potentially devastating” problems for governments.

“We know it is coming but we don’t know how bad it is going to be,” Dr Richard Fisher, the director of Nasa’s Heliophysics division, said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.

“It will disrupt communication devices such as satellites and car navigations, air travel, the banking system, our computers, everything that is electronic. It will cause major problems for the world.

“Large areas will be without electricity power and to repair that damage will be hard as that takes time.”

Read the rest here

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James Allison
June 17, 2010 1:03 am

I don’t get it. Catastrophic predictions used to be full of coulds and
mights yet this guy Dr Fisher says lots of wills and woulds. Could it be he’s worried that funding agencies require more certainity before granting research funds.

krazykiwi
June 17, 2010 1:04 am

It must be fun working in NASA’s Global Crisis Warning department: Catastrophic climate change, Nuclear winters, annihilation by asteroid , global solar meltdowns.
The “Cry Wolf” story comes to mind.

crosspatch
June 17, 2010 1:11 am

Considering that the last time we had a “once in a generation” storm it was about a generation ago, it would seem that this generation, by definition, will get its shot.
It is sort of like saying it has been 10 years since the last “once in a decade” thunderstorm.
Let me guess: Their budget is at risk and they must justify how vital their research is.

Ian E
June 17, 2010 1:12 am

My God, we are going to have another Millenium Bug catastrophe – head for the hills and buy up bottled water and baked beans, everybody!

June 17, 2010 1:14 am

From what I have heard about massive solar flares, the car navigation will be the least of your worries – your car itself will not run at all, because the various chips are completely fried.
This isn’t of course restricted to petrol powered vehicles – modern diesel engines have numerous electronic aids to increase power/torque and economy, as well as inhibit particulate emissions, and run smoothly on low-sulphur fuels.
Hmmm, does this mean that my local supermarket may not be restocked in a hurry?
A solar flare would have far-reaching and significant consequences for our modern society.

CodeTech
June 17, 2010 1:15 am

Oh man… where to begin? Nah, I’ll just point out that after all the warnings about this in the past, there was exactly ONE solar event that actually damaged anyone’s electronics, and that was, I think, 2004 or 2005 when a large percentage of GPS receivers were damaged. There’s a theory that the great NYC blackout was caused by something solar too.
I can’t say I’d bet too high on this being a particularly intense solar cycle if it ever does start, either.
How can anyone read something like this and not comprehend how intensely we are being manipulated by alarmism? Between peak oil, cAGW, solar flares, drought warnings, flood warnings, hurricane warnings, meteor warnings, it’s amazing the true believers can ever hold themselves together!

Andreas
June 17, 2010 1:21 am

This feels to me like it’s part of the big 20121221 religious scare, why should this solar cycle be any different than the other ones? Maybe we humans are the ones who are affecting the suns activity and behavior… no this is simply part of the big scare that is now so popular. Sure the power grids and power production systems need to be modernized all over the place, but this c**p will only ridicule the issue.

Northern Exposure
June 17, 2010 1:30 am

Now this is a threat that I can sink my teeth in to, unlike computer modelling, cosmic science is the real deal.
Solar physicists have understood this very real possibility for years, and just like the threat of near earth objects, it’s just a matter of ‘when’ not ‘what if’.
I’d be interested to learn more as to exactly why these scientists are thinking this could happen sometime in/around 2013. Doesn’t the major CME also have to actually be coming in the direction of earth in order for it to have such a big effect ? Or are these scientists thinking something other than a major CME event ?
I also noted from the telegraph article that Dr. Fisher states : “… power grids, would be without power and access to electronic devices for hours, possibly even days.”
Sorry Dr. Fisher, but I think the realistic picture there would be more in the area of ‘months’ rather than hours/days… if thousands of transformers are blown out, it would be months to replace them all and get everything back up and running. I don’t know of any country that carries an extra inventory of thousands of transformers in some warehouse. Tens of thousands of dollars per transformer, and days to make one.
And one more statement I’d like to comment on : “If you know that a hazard is coming … and you have time enough to prepare and take precautions, then you can avoid trouble.”
Sorry Dr. Fisher, but there will be no preparations or precautions taking place between now and then because we’re too busy spending our monies studying whale poop…

Fitzy
June 17, 2010 1:33 am

I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t help myself.
Fitzy’s solar cycle 2012 prediction:
Dateline, Earth December 11th 2012….
Record levels of Arctic and Antarctic ice cover the poles, the Earths average temperature continues to drop by 0.2 degrees per year, Al Gore has gone missing while inspecting the Gulf Oil Mega spill in a light aircraft. He’s presumed lost in the oil sea, after mega lightening from space, strikes the brown and rainbow slicked sea, setting it alight.
/foolishment off.

Jimmy Mac
June 17, 2010 1:35 am

Yay! Another thing for alarmists to get.. alarmed about!

MA
June 17, 2010 1:44 am

The risk will increase, but I guess it did so many times in the last century. This is like a lottery — also where the storm hits I guess, where Pacific Ocean would be better than US, Europe, or Japan.
Since we take precaution in case of power loss I guess we can handle an initial power loss, but that the problem is a longer time without power. Certain precautions may be needed from energy companies?
However, even in case of a few weeks without power for some countries I don’t think this is more serious than the debt crisis.

baahumbug
June 17, 2010 1:56 am

“with unprecedented levels of…….
“In a new warning…….
“Scientists believe it could damage everything……..
“could cause catastrophic consequences for the world…..
“and “potentially devastating”……
“It will cause major problems for the world…….
“We know it is coming but we don’t know how bad it is going to be,”……..

“Hey Baa, what’s on the telly?”
“Not much love, just some B grade movie about Y2K….yaaawwwnnnn”

e_por
June 17, 2010 2:02 am

Until then, the sun is snoozing.
Sun spots are NULL and flux is around 70.

R.S.Brown
June 17, 2010 2:04 am

Danger! Danger, Will Robinson !
The control systems for nuclear power plants will fail!
There will be blackouts and wipeouts of the systems handling
the world’s financial systems and our ATMs!
The server farms that run the backbone of the internet will fry !
Chaos !
A wailing and gnashing of teeth !
NASA needs more funds !!!

rc
June 17, 2010 2:06 am

Seems like some areas of science are now just a contest for the biggest scare stories.
Scarience? hmm… doesn’t have the necessary ring to it.

Mike
June 17, 2010 2:07 am

Here we go again,
“He said large swathes of the world could face being without power for several months, although he admitted that was unlikely. ”
Now that’s Olympic standard hedging your bets. This sounds like more millenium bug nonsense.

Alex G.
June 17, 2010 2:18 am

*in before end of world*
What kind of precautions could we take?
Unless there’s a Global Broadcast of “QUICK, everyone turn your phones off!” what are we supposed to do? Everyone will probably be due for their next techno gadget hit by then anyway…

artwest
June 17, 2010 2:36 am

Anyone free between noon and one today (UK time) might want to ask Mr Pearce one or two questions online:
“Live Q&A: Fred Pearce on the hacked climate science emails
Fred Pearce will be online between 12-1pm on Thursday 17 June to answer questions on his new book about ‘climategate’ ”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jun/16/fred-pearce-climate-science-book

Expat in France
June 17, 2010 2:40 am

Wow! Something exciting to look forward to in the reasonable future! We oldies (or olders) are a bit miffed at having to wait for the mega-sea level rises, and oven temperatures, and tidal waves, and meteorites, and super volcanoes, whose projected dates either don’t come to fruition, or are “extended” further into the future.
I want something to happen NOW!! Especially as it’s such an unseasonable, grotty “summer” in France. Would it be presumptious of me to expect a bit of a freeze up this winter (and the following few), ‘cos thet nice Mr. Bastardi seems to think so. Give me something to look forward to, please, particularly with a “told you so” element. I’m bored with the flim-flam of false (or imaginary) alarms…

pkatt
June 17, 2010 2:41 am

yah and we might get hit by a comet, a super volcano might go off, the magnetic field may flip and the microbe that will end us all is lurking somewhere in Africa … so many ways to die.. so little time .

Ozzie John
June 17, 2010 2:44 am

Big and obvious attempt to scare the govt into more funding. He might as well claim that the sun’s polar regions will be ice free by 2013.

June 17, 2010 2:44 am

Don’t let a good crisis go to waste – now’s the time to take over the communications infrastructure.
Funny how the sun “has no effect on climate”, but yet can cause so much other havoc.

tallbloke
June 17, 2010 2:47 am

The last time this was discussed here, Leif Svalgaard said:
“The danger is real”
Leif is not a man given to unwarranted speculation or flights of fancy.
He also said it’s a matter of when not if we would be hit by a big one similar to the Carrington flare in the 1850’s
He also said that such a flare might be expected to hit Earth once every 150 years or so.
It’s also known that the sun tends to chuck out big ones when it wakes up from long minima….
Reply: I resent that particular euphemism for “throw”. ~ ctm

June 17, 2010 2:48 am

That’s how it works, doesn’t it?
Bank crisis? Take it over.
GM crisis? Take it over.
CO2 crisis: Take over energy.
BP crisis? Take it over.
Health care crisis? Take it over.

June 17, 2010 2:49 am

USA crisis? Take it over?

Nylo
June 17, 2010 2:52 am

The risk has always been there. The pretension that it will be especially likely in 2013 is hilarious though. Someone is in desperate need for extra funding.

Leon Brozyna
June 17, 2010 3:05 am


♫Money … ♫
♫We need money … ♫
♫We need lots and lots of money … ♫

TerrySkinner
June 17, 2010 3:15 am

“tallbloke says:
The last time this was discussed here, Leif Svalgaard said:
“The danger is real”
Leif is not a man given to unwarranted speculation or flights of fancy.
He also said it’s a matter of when not if we would be hit by a big one similar to the Carrington flare in the 1850′s
He also said that such a flare might be expected to hit Earth once every 150 years or so.”
I’m beginning to wonder if there are PhD’s in alarmism. This seems to be such a standard line. Like when I saw a programme on the Yellowstone Mega volcano it went something like: How often does it go off? About every half million years (or whatever). When did it last go off? A little over half a million years ago, we’re overdue for another one now!
Head for the hills!

rbateman
June 17, 2010 3:17 am

Keep that old clunker computer, radio and phone handy. The only cars available will be the pre-computer chip models.
While NASA has had to cope with Solar Storm proofing thier stuff, the rest of the world has not.
The next big one after waking up from Deep Solar Slumber does not even have to be at the 1859 level.
The microcircuitry of today is totally vulnerable.
The cost of the AGW head-fake is telling here… we are not prepared not will we be preparing any time soon.

Garry
June 17, 2010 3:18 am

It’s a real shame that NASA has been reduced from an enterprise of optimism, energy, and scientific advancement, to a purveyor of catastrophic alarmism.

TerrySkinner
June 17, 2010 3:20 am

Did you guys know that this solar mega flare (or whatever) is going to be so much worse because of all the extra CO2 that is now in the atmosphere because of evil human beans?
I don’t know how or why but I know somebody who does…

June 17, 2010 3:26 am

Should w0uld be cheaper, and perhaps more fun, if we all just got a case of likker and sit around the campfire and tell ghost stories. Humans love to scare themselves. Always have.

Carl M
June 17, 2010 3:27 am

I would remind everyone that at the end of the Boy Who Cried Wolf, there was a real wolf. I told everyone I knew to relax about Y2K, and I have never bought AGW, but I worry about this. Here is a link with more info.
http://solar.physics.montana.edu/press/WashPost/Horizon/196l-031099-idx.html

Michael in Sydney
June 17, 2010 3:27 am

will not happen…the world ends in 2012 not 2013, mayan calendar told me so.

MattN
June 17, 2010 3:30 am

All they do is recycle the same story every 11-12 years. I remember reading a similar article about cycle #22 over 20 years ago in school…

Mick
June 17, 2010 3:35 am

“…without power ….”
I think this what the AGW mob want. Maybe JH and AG lunched a secrete mission to trigger the event…. /stupid humor off
Don’t forget though, this guys want to pump sulphur to the atmosphere!
🙁

derise
June 17, 2010 3:35 am

NPR does this on a regular basis, it’s called a “Fund Raiser”. Charitable organizations have bake sales and raffles. I guess bake sales are a little low class for NASA….

Ulric Lyons
June 17, 2010 3:36 am

I have been looking at this for a couple of years now. From study of larger solar storms in this list: http://www.solarstorms.org/SRefStorms.html
compared to minimums with longer spotless periods: http://users.telenet.be/j.janssens/Spotless/Spotlessoverview.png
there is up to 10 times the chance of large solar storms, in maximums following quiet minimums.
The heliocentric distribution of particularly the inner planets, is critical as to when solar storms occur, and so likey times for these events can be determined.

Editor
June 17, 2010 3:36 am

We discussed this some months ago in another context and there is a definite precedent-the Carrington event of 1859
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859
I had a small amount of discussion with Leif about it who said it was likely to happen again and the consequences would be disastrous.
I have some connections with some UK Government agencies and asked what they had done to prevent such an eventuality-obviously our modern lifestyle is far more prone to electrical disasters than in 1859.
They knew nothing whatsoever of the Carrington event and were very much fixated on the consequences of climate change. It certainly would be posible to ‘shield’ important infrastructure and arguably all new installations should be so protected. This would still leave many parts of our lifestyle in serious danger though so again, arguably, this should go right to the top of the disasters agenda as another Carrington event is far more likely to occur, and be far more devaststing, than any man made -and largely imaginary-CO2 induced disaster.
As a species it sems we have difficulty in keeping more than one or two balls in the air at one time and all our efforts are being used to juggle a giant ball labelled CAGW which has the additional problem of being practically invisible.
Tonyb

TerrySkinner
June 17, 2010 3:49 am

What is sometimes forgotten is the value of all of these alarming predictions. When we know what is likely to happen we can plan for it to either stop it or to straighten things out afterwards. So if for example we are warned in advance of the risk of an undersea oil blow out producing mega pollution like the world has never seen before we can…
Oh wait a minute. Ignore all that. Let’s go on preparing for lots of other disasters. Nothing to see here, move along please.

Curiousgeorge
June 17, 2010 4:01 am

No problem. Just build a giant Faraday cage around the entire planet. Then sit out back and watch the auroral display.

RexAlan
June 17, 2010 4:09 am

I think what Dr Richard Fisher is refering to is a Carrington Event.
http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/006079.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859
Not if but when!

Michael in Sydney
June 17, 2010 4:15 am

This is what happens when NASA gets all its funding from the National Geographic Channel…it does doesn’t it?

Ian Cooper
June 17, 2010 4:17 am

March 13th 1989. Only 21 years ago! A good chunk of Canada’s eastern region was without power for three days. This was due to a mighty geo-mag storm seen world-wide. This was on the upswing of SSC 22. A memorable maximum that produced that great storm and several others that will live long in the memory of those fortunate enough to see them.
From a graph supplied by Leif in an earlier posting the Solar Flare Index showed a pronounced drop throughout SSC 23. Nothing that I have seen since suggests that there has been a dramatic upturn in the frequency of solar flares, so why would Nasa insist on this scare-mongering?
I live on a flood plain that experienced a supposedly 1 in 250 year event just six years ago. If a scientist publicised the likelihood that we are in for another “big one,” around here anytime soon, people would rightly ask, “On what do you base this statement?” Natural events like the one that Nasa is throwing out to the general public do not fit neatly into the numbers we humans try to place on them.
If all of the indicators were actually being observed to head alarmingly upwards then we would have no problem with this at all. When we see all of the indicators well below the recent average then we should find this announcement by Nasa completely unwarranted, and unnecessary, or as the British Prime Minister recently said about a completely different topic, “Unjustified & unjustifiable!”

Atomic Hairdryer
June 17, 2010 4:18 am

I’m with Tonyb on this one, and first saw this with the ’89 flare event when I was managing some satellite capacity. Carrington event was a bigger storm and would cause a lot more damage and disruption. I’ve had similar discussions regarding CNI and similar repsonses. Some saw EMP weapons as a threat but overlooked natural EMP from flares. Or an assumption that fibre networks would be protected, ignoring sensitive amp, regen or muxes that could be affected, or just grid power feeding them.
As Tonyb says, we’re more dependent on technology than in 1859 and much of it isn’t well shielded, so I think this is a real threat. No idea how probable another Carrington would be, but at least we have SOHO watching now.

Les Francis
June 17, 2010 4:22 am

NASA recycling a press release they did only two years ago – same story different angle.
Even the last press release included material from a study that a retired Naval physicist – James A. Marusek authored the year before
read the Study in PDF format here
Mr Marusek ‘s study detailed the technical details of an event similar to the Carrington Flare and the effects on modern society. The paper itself us very sobering.
Who knows if an event such as this will happen in 2013? No one. NASA conjecture? The only certainty is that will happen sooner or later.
My old ’80’s diesel Mercedes is ready and waiting in the garage.

Joe Lalonde
June 17, 2010 4:24 am

I read this prediction once in a novel, fiction…
SOLARFLARE by Larry Burkett (1997)
Interesting read.

RexAlan
June 17, 2010 4:28 am

“Even a below-average cycle is capable of producing severe space weather,” points out Biesecker. “The great geomagnetic storm of 1859, for instance, occurred during a solar cycle of about the same size we’re predicting for 2013.”
http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2009/29may_noaaprediction/

Xi Chin
June 17, 2010 4:33 am

There is no end to the doom and gloom recently. Our masters understand well the power of fear. Be scared of this, be scared of that.
Time to tell our masters: Be scared of us!
This story is yet another thing for us to be scared of. Oh, booo hooo, I’m gonna hide under the bed till I die.

David_WS
June 17, 2010 4:33 am

Is there more than one NASA? I’ve just checked the official NASA site and can no mention of this impending doom, neither under information for the public, for educators, policymakers nor media. I’ve checked the archives, but can’t find anything. Are the sources for this story secure?

Stephen Wilde
June 17, 2010 4:35 am

There’s nothing wrong with a generalised warning that our modern systems are dangerously exposed to damage from solar energy pulses that are normal but way in excess of those seen since that Carrington Event.
The trouble is that it is then irresponsible to speculatively pin down the timing of the next such event in light of our poor understanding of solar behaviour.
Proposing that it will happen during the supposed upcoming maximum of the current rather weak solar cycle is dangerous because if it does not then happen it will be harder to get people to take the issue seriously afterwards.
For short term personal attention those chaps are damaging science itself and it’s relationship with the general public.

Jean Meeus
June 17, 2010 4:37 am

“The heliocentric distribution of particularly the inner planets, is critical as to when solar storms occur, and so likey times for these events can be determined.”
O no, not that astrological claim again…!

KenB
June 17, 2010 4:54 am

I suppose the best thing we can do, is to be on the opposite side of the planet when it happens, or deep underground protecting ourselves from the intense hot or is that cold, maybe I could emulate Al Gore and sell horsetrading permits or plans for the new and latest fast pony transport, guaranteed not to electronically decombobulate or whatever.
And think of the possibilities, one of us could corner the horsetrading market and become the new Bunker Hunt by buying up all the nags of the world and even if they get fried on one half of the world think of the great horsemeat hamburgers we could export to the USA (its been done before) from the shady side of the planet!!
Perhaps best of all, we could insist on the next scary predictionist put up a billion dollar bond, just in case their prediction does not eventuate, sort of a get out of jail free card fund, that should sort the serious from the hopeful.
Hmn might invest in one of them aluminum collander things or sell tin foil umbrellas to reflect the flare, I could become rich just like Al.
Now I wonder what costly solution science can find, hope it doesn’t involve buying carbon indulgences from the guvmint!! Then again it could be a fizzer and something else git us!!

tommy
June 17, 2010 4:55 am

But still much less chance of that happening than during our lifetime. 😉
Is funny how they make it sound like we will experience the most active solar cycle in our lifetime, while the opposite is really the case.
Though all they are really saying is that we are returning to solar max and that big solar storms could also happen during times of low sunspot activity.

Spector
June 17, 2010 4:56 am

There is always the chance that history will repeat itself. Our current deep solar minimum closely resembles the deep solar minimum of 1856 which was followed by the Carrington Event of September 1859, the largest known solar flare to strike the earth in modern history which then gave some telegraph operators the shock of their lives.
Perhaps it is more likely that the next big super-flare broadcast by the sun will go off in some other direction and miss the Earth, but this sounds a lot like a game of Solar Russian Roulette.
I have seen estimates, perhaps alarmist, that it might take several years to restore service and repair our modern electrical power distribution system after the widespread damage caused by the flow of huge surges of direct-current induced by the event. Perhaps our only defenses would be to disconnect as much of the system as possible in the short time before the flare reached the Earth and to be prepared with a year’s supply of candles.
http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2008/06may_carringtonflare/

June 17, 2010 5:02 am

It would provide a convenient excuse to deny FOIA requests.

Jimbo
June 17, 2010 5:03 am

To be fair NASA are in a bit of a no-win situation here. If they keep quiet and there is mayhem there may be congressional hearings about a cover-up with the possibility of people going to jail. On the other hand if you keep crying “wolf”, then sooner or later your prediction will come true. Having said all this I can’t help being reminded about the Y2K issue.

Jackie
June 17, 2010 5:05 am

Scientific Theology, scaremongering prophetic science is now the accepted norm. Words like better, ok, normal, positive, good have been banished from the scientific vocaubulary. Now only catastrophic, annihilate, doom, man-made, are allowed to describe scientific findings. While science has changed, it is more the scientists themselves that have morphed into theologians without recognizing it. Maybe better communication, the internet, science fiction, the movies have brought about a new breed of scientist where fear has become bigger than the scientist himself. It is really ironic that while conventional religion is in decline, the traditional preacher has been replaced by scientific theologians making even bigger claims and prophecies than the traditional theologian. Scientists have become the prophets they showed much disdain for in religion over the years. All sense of normality in science is dead. It must be a tremendous burden on normal scientists working in science today being completely overshadowed by this new breed of scientist theologian.

r
June 17, 2010 5:08 am

What’s scary is not that there are alarmist predictions, we always have those…
What’s scary is that it is NASA that is making them.
We trust NASA only because of the successful Apollo missions. But those people are gone…

June 17, 2010 5:08 am

Jean Meeus says:
June 17, 2010 at 4:37 am
“The heliocentric distribution of particularly the inner planets, is critical as to when solar storms occur, and so likey times for these events can be determined.”
O no, not that astrological claim again…!

http://gltrs.grc.nasa.gov/Citations.aspx?id=330
ABSTRACT:
A solar storm is a storm of ions and electrons from the Sun. Large solar storms are usually preceded by solar flares, phenomena that can be characterized quantitatively from Earth. Twenty-five of the thirty-eight largest known solar flares were observed to start when one or more tide-producing planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Jupiter) were either nearly above the event positions (<10° longitude) or at the opposing side of the Sun. The probability for this to happen at random is 0.039 percent.

Olaf Koenders
June 17, 2010 5:10 am

I hope this scare will make them all forget about their catastrophic global tax fraud.. Oh – maybe they’ll try and tax us on Solar flare events as well.
DAMN!!

Pascvaks
June 17, 2010 5:11 am

We’re impotent, we’re incompotent, we’re doomed…
I believe we’ve heard this over and over since the beginning of time. It is true. And with any luck, we’ll –some of us– live on to see another day. Life would be very boreing without the fickle finger of fate; it’s really just a crap shoot. There really is a boogy man.

hunter
June 17, 2010 5:14 am

A cynic could easily note that since money for promoting CAGW is waning, NASA believes it is time to try and try out fear-of-the-sun as a new source of funding.
Yes, the sun is going to have a CME event that will fry a lot of electronics.
Linking it to this cycle- the most quiet and uneventful of the last 100 years or more- seems a bit desperate on the part of NASA.
Science, or at least the promotion of science, seems indistinguishable from the marketing efforts of anything else when scientists rely on such transparent and emotional tactics.

Robert of Ottawa
June 17, 2010 5:15 am

Can’t these people just get funding for space exploration without the hysteria?

Gail Combs
June 17, 2010 5:21 am

#
pgosselin says:
That’s how it works, doesn’t it?
Bank crisis? Take it over.
GM crisis? Take it over.
CO2 crisis: Take over energy.
BP crisis? Take it over.
Health care crisis? Take it over.
______________________________________________________________________
You forgot one
Food Scare crisis? Take it over?
Old Henry Kissinger’s formula
Food borne illness crisis =>WTO derived Food Safety Laws =>control food => control people
CAGW crisis => Cap & Trade Laws =>control energy => control whole continents
Economic Crisis =>“Financial Stability Board” =>control money => control the world
Another Kissinger quote: “Depopulation should be the highest priority of foreign policy towards the third world, because the US economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad, especially from less developed countries. “ http://www.billionquotes.com/index.php/Henry_Kissinger

June 17, 2010 5:22 am

While this report is a typical “Hey, look at us” NASA blurb, there is stuff we should do for the next direct hit like the Carrington event. Laugh at NASA if you will, but don’t turn your back on the Sun.
Links to coverage here:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/03/25/compared-to-the-suns-power-we-are-a-fly-speck-on-an-elephants-butt/
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/05/07/a-reminder-to-us-flyspecks-on-an-elephants-butt/

Gail Combs
June 17, 2010 5:36 am

derise says:
June 17, 2010 at 3:35 am
NPR does this on a regular basis, it’s called a “Fund Raiser”. Charitable organizations have bake sales and raffles. I guess bake sales are a little low class for NASA….
______________________________________________________________________
NASA can not have a bake sale because the government has made bake sales illegal.
PA Church Ladies Raided by ‘Food Safety’ Cops
“On the first Friday of Lent, an elderly female parishioner of St. Cecilia Catholic Church began unwrapping pies at the church. That’s when the trouble started… After it was determined that the pies were home-baked, the inspector decreed they couldn’t be sold. The problem is the pies are illegal in Pennsylvania….
They say, “as American as apple pie.”
Our freedom as Americans appears to have come down to homemade pie. And a glass of whatever milk we choose to wash it down. Our democracy appears to have come down to whether we remember and will defend our unlicensed, unhampered, un-infringed, un-monitored, un-surveilled, unregulated, un-criminalized, unlimited, full and free right to homemade pie and a glass of milk. Including seconds.”

If Apple Pie is now illegal at church suppers, I guess this is no longer the USA.

trbixler
June 17, 2010 5:37 am

Does this mean that all of the solar panels will all go poof at once while all the windmills accelerate and take off? What is the world to do. But wait my science adviser has a Nobel and he says build a Faraday cage containment over all your electronic stuff.

Joe Lalonde
June 17, 2010 5:39 am

Science has missed two important facts:
One the Sun rotates at a high rate of speed(and this is just the corona we see).
Two our solar system also travels at a high rate of speed.
Since no experimants have been done on this:
Throw astroid and meteor debris at the sun. The near misses WILL pull gases and the hits would generate a spot in the corona where the gases are now parted.

Enneagram
June 17, 2010 5:42 am

They must feel kind of being forgotten in these days of the OIL SPILL, they are crying for attention, eager for recognition, however they have failed in everything and their scaring scenarios seem kids´cartoons which kids don´t like either.
Hey buddies, either you fire your WRITERS or you should revise your most dear and beloved theories:
http://www.holoscience.com/news.php?article=ah63dzac

Gail Combs
June 17, 2010 5:46 am

KenB says:
June 17, 2010 at 4:54 am
I suppose the best thing we can do, is to be on the opposite side of the planet when it happens, or deep underground protecting ourselves from the intense hot or is that cold, maybe I could emulate Al Gore and sell horsetrading permits or plans for the new and latest fast pony transport, guaranteed not to electronically decombobulate or whatever.
And think of the possibilities, one of us could corner the horsetrading market….
______________________________________________________________________
I already have, 18 equines and 14 horse drawn vehicles, not including the plow, disc and manure spreader.
Time to put a Faraday cage around all your electronics you can not live without.

Enneagram
June 17, 2010 5:50 am

Wanna call everybody´s attention?, shut down your GISS, you´ll save a lot of money and everybody will thank you.

Henry chance
June 17, 2010 5:52 am

This warning follows the template for Y2K. Too bad all of the billions of us that barely survived swine flu are becoming less gullible every time.

Jeff L
June 17, 2010 5:54 am

Given their success (or lack there of) in predicting the sun’s behavior over this last cycle, I would not bet on this forecast being verified

Enneagram
June 17, 2010 5:54 am

♫♫♫
What goes up must come down
spinning wheel got to go round
Talking about your troubles it’s a crying sin
Ride a painted pony
Let the spinning wheel spin
You got no money, and you, you got no home

Spinning wheel all alone
Talking about your troubles and you, you never learn
Ride a painted pony
let the spinning wheel turn
Did you find a directing sign
on the straight and narrow highway?
Would you mind a reflecting sign
Just let it shine within your mind
And show you the colours that are real
Someone is waiting just for you
spinning wheel is spinning true
Drop all your troubles, by the river side
Catch a painted pony
On the spinning wheel ride
Someone is waiting just for you
spinning wheel is spinning true
Drop all your troubles, by the river side
Ride a painted pony
Let the spinning wheel fly
♫♫♫♫♫

Garry
June 17, 2010 5:55 am

Jimbo said June 17, 2010 at 5:03 am: “I can’t help being reminded about the Y2K issue.”
I kid you not, I was calling it “Y-2-Kook” in 1998 and 1999.
And I am in the computer industry.
I recall being interviewed about Y2K by the editor of a prominent computer trade journal, and he was rendered speechless when I guffawed “Y-2-Kook” to one of his questions. Which reminds me of how much angst and attention gets invested in even the most semi-plausible doom mongering.

Henry chance
June 17, 2010 5:59 am

8 years of Bush. If we had Algore, this all wouild never be possible. Had algore not invented the web, there would be no web to crash.

Tom in Florida
June 17, 2010 6:05 am

“There’s nothing we can do to make it untrue, so why cry
There’s nothing we can say to make it go away, so why cry
It may seem like a movie plot,
but when it comes to making havoc, the sun’s got
an unstoppable way that can ruin our day, so why cry”
h/t Mary Wells

Billy Liar
June 17, 2010 6:06 am

Spector says:
June 17, 2010 at 4:56 am
‘Our current deep solar minimum closely resembles the deep solar minimum of 1856 which was followed by the Carrington Event of September 1859, the largest known solar flare to strike the earth in modern history which then gave some telegraph operators the shock of their lives.’
I’ve just consulted my 300-year diagram of international sunspot number to find that the 1856 minimum was neither deep nor long. Perhaps you could tell me where 1856 figures in the league table of minima both by length and depth?

Tim Hulsey
June 17, 2010 6:15 am

Can’t the UN come up with something to tax us over? I’m relatively absolutely sort of sure this is an anthropogenic solar event! Maybe they can tax sunscreen… sunglasses… bikinis!

Ed Caryl
June 17, 2010 6:16 am

This isn’t Bull S##t, this is Whale Poop! This guy is off his meds!

TerrySkinner
June 17, 2010 6:18 am

David_WS says:
“Is there more than one NASA?”
There used to be. When I was a child just picking up snippets from the TV news I was very confused that a place in the Bahamas seemed to be sending up space rockets AND running Egypt at the same time.

Feet2theFire
June 17, 2010 6:27 am

Speculation is not science.
Picking the lowest period in solar activity in over 200 years to scare us all with a technology destroying CME is like the “global warming causes ice ages” silliness.
The likelihood of that kind of CME is always present in the big part of the solar cycle. And the likelihood of it heading directly for Earth is still quite small.
I agree with the commenters who suggest it is just a ploy for Federal dollars. They have to make sure they are not forgotten at a time when the last space shuttle has left the pad and very little remaining on the publicity horizon. If they are not able to thrill us with taking us forward with accomplishments to come, what else is left except scare tactics?
But my main point is speculation. Newton and Hooke would turn over in their graves at the things spouted by scientists these days.
If NASA really wants to put effort into anything, why not more effort in identifying near-earth-objects?

June 17, 2010 6:30 am

When I worked at NASA we stuck with real science. Now it seems that NASA has turned into Scary Movie.
And what if the earth runs into a Milky Way stray planet? Or what if earth got hit with a super nova gamma ray blast. NASA has some more scary movie scripts so they can write those stories..
The bad news is the ignorant people will buy it … yet hasn’t the problem been here all along. I smell propaganda coming our way.

Spector
June 17, 2010 6:32 am

RE: Gail Combs: (June 17, 2010 at 5:46 am) “Time to put a Faraday cage around all your electronics you can not live without. “
I believe the primary risk is the power grid with all those long wires to act as antennae to collect energy from an electro-magnetic solar super flare. Just imagine the repair job with every transformer and every power-meter fried. As Carrington Event solar flares seem to happen only about once every 500 years, we should have a one chance in 46 of that happening again during this 11-year solar cycle.

Raymoind
June 17, 2010 6:37 am

krazykiwi,
There are two sides to the cry wolf story:
The alarmist(s) who cry Wolf so much that nobody will listen to them.
vs.
The nobodies who won’t listen.
I get tired of the hysteria of the week* driven by alarmists, but IMO this one has teeth, the kind that bite (and a reasonably well documented modern era history to be researched)
* PCBs, Global cooling, global warming, land fill space, ozone holes, cell phone induced cancers, H1N1 (but not N5N1), peak oil (at least 5 iterations of this), Y2K, 2012 and on and on and on.

jack morrow
June 17, 2010 6:42 am

This probably could happen and even Arthur C. Clarke wrote abook about the possibilty of this occuring. However, there is no way to really predict this so in the meantime-eat drink and be merry.

Walt Stone
June 17, 2010 6:44 am

Let get this straight about these nasty solar events being discussed:
1)They happen
2)We don’t know when they happen, meaning its pretty much a random event with respect to our current predictive powers
3)When they do happen, we don’t know the severity, as the severity of each event is also rather random.
So, until you can start predicting 2) and 3), should we really be getting scared about 1)?
I mean, you could say the same thing about earthquakes in Los Angeles. Everyone knows the effects of a big earthquake will be bad. I don’t see a stream of people leaving there with bags of dried beans draped over the hoods of their cars.

ImranCan
June 17, 2010 6:49 am

You know what … it might happen ….. but so what. If it does we will deal with it … just like an asteroid impact, bird flu, and in invasion of aliens.
This has become so tiresome.

Ken Hall
June 17, 2010 6:50 am

The conspiracy theorist’s wilder and more eccentric fringe have been working this one for quite some time now.
If any readers want a good laugh, then head on over to project camelot. It will take some navigating to find (as their website navigation is utterly appalling) but there is an interview with a person who claims to have been working on an ultra top secret project for the Government in preparation for the coming solar storm caused apocalypse.
Whilst it is possible that an extreme solar storm *could* cause major damage to electrical and magnetic systems on earth, and it is sensible that precautions should be taken to be able to mitigate against the worst effects, I do not believe that an end of the world scenario is likely.

Dr. Lurtz
June 17, 2010 6:53 am

Gail Combs says:
June 17, 2010 at 5:21 am
#
pgosselin says:
That’s how it works, doesn’t it?
Bank crisis? Take it over.
GM crisis? Take it over.
CO2 crisis: Take over energy.
BP crisis? Take it over.
Health care crisis? Take it over.
___________________________________________________________
Gail,
Can they actually take over the Sun?? Will the fund raiser allow them to build and orbit the new “Sun taking-over Satellite”??
Maybe I’m confused and the “Sun taking-over Satellite” is actually a “Politician taking-over Satellite”.

Pull My Finger
June 17, 2010 7:04 am

I tend worry more about things like giant nuclear reactors in the sky than how much CO2 Al Gore’s farts produce. Have a feeling this is one of those things that you can only prepare for the worst and hope for the best, becuse it’s going to do what it’s going to do and we just have to deal with it. We’ll probably all get smoked by a Gamma Ray Burst we never see coming anyway.

Ken Hall
June 17, 2010 7:15 am

Are navigational satellites shielded from these solar bursts? Are the aircraft that depend upon them shielded?
Whilst most things on earth could be protected from these events and if necessary, electrical grids shut off if we have enough notice of such a massive CME, it is the hundreds of thousands of air passengers in the sky and tonnes and tonnes of airborne freight that would be my biggest worry at the time of such an outage.
Whilst I have no doubt that there is a tiny risk of a MAJOR problem affecting businesses and society world wide, possibly with many deaths, I do not believe that it will be an end of the world kind of cataclysm.
Does anyone who has seriously researched this have any better idea what will happen to the air traffic in the event of a massive CME heading towards earth?

Eric J. Brooks
June 17, 2010 7:16 am

Really nice apocalyptic vision…one problem with it…the sun’s magnetic field, solar wind, sun spot and UV radiation output are falling off a cliff. That 2013 max was originally scheduled for 2012, except the sun refused to cooperate and went into a deep solar minimum, one, which for all we know, could last for decades.
So…after all that scary-talk, does this scientist understand why the sun went to sleep (when everyone expected it to be active). Does he know what will make the sun wake up? And what evidence does he have that the sun is emerging from its sleep. It’s 10.7cm radio emmissions are near historic lows, and the other day, it went spotless again (with weak solar wind and weak interplanetary magnetic field to boot!)
Check it all out at
http://www.spaceweather.com
…oh, and somebody pleeeZ put a sock in the mouth of this scare monger!

June 17, 2010 7:17 am

“Large areas will be without electricity power and to repair that damage will be hard as that takes time.”
The lead time for large transformers is several years
And that’s now, not when everyone suddenly needs them.

Amino Acids in Meteorites
June 17, 2010 7:18 am

I saw this story 3 days ago. I yawned about it then. Not worth another yawn now.

June 17, 2010 7:20 am

NASA is predicting solar cycle 24 to peak in May 2013, with a sunspot number of 90. Given the continued low solar activity (e.g. SSN, SFI, Ap), it is possible the sun might peak with only half the predicted sunspots, putting it earth on course to another Dalton-like minimum.
Also, according to David Archibald, there is a correlation between the length of a solar cycle and future temperatures. Longer cycles bring lower temperatures. Solar cycle 23 lasted 12.7 years, 1.7 years beyond the average length. Something to think about.
By the way, NASA does mention in the story below that “even a below-average cycle is capable of producing severe space weather. The great geomagnetic storm of 1859, for instance, occurred during a solar cycle of about the same size we’re predicting for 2013.”
Here is a link to the story:
http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2009/29may_noaaprediction/

Retired Engineer
June 17, 2010 7:32 am

A friend was very upset when Y2K came and went without problems. She expected at least a small disaster. While most of it was hysteria, there were a few holes, and they were plugged in time. (my microwave oven did not need a software update)
With a massive flare, the power grid would be vulnerable. Long wires, magnetic field induces large currents. All the circuit breakers trip. With the interlocked grid, it takes quite a while to reset and restart. OK, that could be ugly. Whacking my PC? NBLG. Not enough exposed wire. No induced current. As for the comment about GPS crashing 5 years ago – news to me. I’ve been GPSing my way around the USofA for many years, and never saw it. (Other than it telling me I was 200 feet below sea level when passing Rend Lake in downstate IL).
I worry more about a big hail storm. We’ve had a few of them so far this year. Pea sized is OK, much bigger and things break. That’s a real problem.

Joel Heinrich
June 17, 2010 7:34 am

YOU can be the first to spot this solar storm! Don’t believe what the others tell you, be part of the REAL SCIENCE:
http://solarstormwatch.com/
a part of the zooniverse:
http://www.zooniverse.org/projects

Pamela Gray
June 17, 2010 7:37 am

As a school teacher, this means that a solar flair like that is a snow day. I’m devastated.

Neil Jones
June 17, 2010 7:39 am

So let’s get them all in line
Katla (next volcano in Iceland) – next 12 months. result, cooling of northern hemisphere
No Arctic Ice – Next 3 -5 years. result, shipping becomes cheaper
Sun fries our electrics – 2013…ish. result, end of civilization as we know it.
After that it ain’t gonna matter any more.
Bang goes my retirement 😉

Dave Springer
June 17, 2010 7:41 am

Coronal Mass Ejections (CME) are no laughing matter. The last really big one that hit the earth was in 1859 and people could see the aurora borealis in Florida. Telegraph lines melted.
Basically any long stretch of wire acts as an antenna collecting up a huge amount of electromagnetic energy. The effect of the 1859 event on today’s massive power grid would be an epic disaster of biblical proportion. Millons upon millions of transformers would fry. The electric grid would be completely shut down. It would take months just to restore the most critical power needs. Imagine the consequences of a few months of no electricity to run fuel pumps at gas stations, no electricity for refrigerators, no electricity for hospitals, no water coming out of your taps, sewers not working because lift stations are without power, no communcations, electronic banking and commerce shut down.
If we have a working satellite close to the sun watching for these we get, at best, a half hour warning to open as many circuit breakers as possible in the power grid to limit the damage. A half-hour in the bureaucratic quagmire overseeing all the disparate elements of the national power grid is probably pretty close to useless.
It’s not a matter of if a CME like the one in 1859 will strike again but rather a matter of when it will happen again. The best answer is anytime at all and it could be even bigger. There’s no long term prehistoric record of CMEs to establish any cyclical patterns or frequency or severity as they were rather uneventful except for pretty lights in the sky before there were millions of miles of copper wire strung about to collect up the energy.

Steve M. from TN
June 17, 2010 7:50 am

Garry says:
June 17, 2010 at 5:55 am
I kid you not, I was calling it “Y-2-Kook” in 1998 and 1999.
And I am in the computer industry.

ditto. Everytime someone said “y2k bug” I snorted, but still continued to “cash in” on upgrades. Science is begining to remind me of the TV show “1000 ways to die”. I can sit here and brainstorm 1000 ways for the Earth to end, and start a new show.

Henk Houkes
June 17, 2010 7:52 am

Does anybody know what this flare would do to our endangered polar bears ?

ShrNfr
June 17, 2010 7:53 am

Congress is proposing a sunlight tax to provide for a fund that will be used to repair the damage. Like social security, it will be put in a lockbox which consists of US gummitup bonds. These bonds will be stored in a special electronically operated safe so that the next time we have a Carrington flare, they will not be able to open the safe and use the bonds backed by “In Obama We Rust” toilet paper to rebuild the infrastructure. In the meantime, I will fire up my glow in the dark ancient tube ham radios and charge lots for anybody to talk to anything.

June 17, 2010 7:56 am

Dave Springer is correct.
My guess is that a big flare hitting Earth is unlikely on this solar cycle though. It’s more likely once the sun really ramps up a few cycles from now. Having said that, it could still happen anytime, and there is no proper contingency plan for it.

Enneagram
June 17, 2010 8:25 am

Just imagine: Those giant solar flares igniting all those damned “fossil fuels”, fires everywhere…..really fantastic!
BTW, have you seen the good side of the recent gulf oil spill? It is NOT a tragedy, chances are that you have found a really big oil deposit, perhaps bigger than Saudi Arabia and you could become totally energy independent !!! Bad news for Al Baby and Maurice Strong and all the Carbon gang.
If it should not have spilled off it would have made oil prices drop inmediately.

Bill Kurdziel
June 17, 2010 8:46 am

We all know that our usage of fossil fuels on Earth is causing all this Sun stuff. I think a giant tax on CO2 emissions just might help to mitigate the damage.

CodeTech
June 17, 2010 8:55 am

To those who say this is a real concern…
Of course it is. But exactly what can the average person actually do about it? Nothing! Except, perhaps, fret and worry… and watch as some more taxes are skimmed from them to go toward “infrastructure upgrades”, which somehow end up in someone’s pocket.
The problem with these kinds of stories is that they are purely designed to decrease the average person’s confidence in technology and modern life. Who benefits from that? It’s a grossly cynical way to manipulate the populace.
Also, regarding Y2K… I had a sweet job in 99 upgrading software for a chain of pharmacies. Apparently their original system was written in the 80s using compiled BASIC and it did fail on Jan 1, 2000. Unfortunately, they had LOST the source code! The short term fix was to set the date to 1900, the long term fix was to rewrite the thing in Windows, which required every one of their 500+ locations to buy new computers, install and license Windows, and convert their databases. One at a time. I made a LOT of money that year, laughing all the way.

John Whitman
June 17, 2010 9:03 am

Mankind has all its eggs in one basket. The earth basket. : )
Diversifying to multiple egg baskets has merits.
Star Trek where are you?
John

David L
June 17, 2010 9:04 am

But what I want to know is: can “clean energy” and “cap and trade” still save us from this catastrophe?

jamadan
June 17, 2010 9:06 am

Oh dear, oh my . . . please . . . everyone, give all your money to the scientists so they can save us from this doom just like they saved us from the Y2K bug.

cba
June 17, 2010 9:07 am

sorry folks but this is a real problem. we actually do live in a dangerous universe. our sun now seems to be in some sort of minimum state where we may languish for weeks, months, years, and perhaps even decades. While flares are more common during active conditions, they can occur at any time. Coronal Mass Ejections do occur and, btw, we’ve actually had some mediocre solar flares recently.
The last really big CME was in the 19th century and that one melted telegraph lines, ruined equipment, started fires in telegraph offices and the like. Such an event occurring today would destroy satellites and potentially even melt transformers in electric grid, unless they were taken out of service during the event.
It’s not that severe a problem unless we get hit by something much larger than we’ve experienced in the past or we lose our solar monitoring ability to determine when a CME is coming our way. It’s also less likely to happen now than at most anytime since the last big one. However, the crucial difference is just how much dependence society now has on electrical and electronics.
As for contingency plans, I think they’re pretty much already around. Shutting down satellites and power grids in such a pending event will go a long way to minimize damage. We’ll know a day or two ahead of the arrival that a CME is headed our way and so anything normal in the way of our situation will permit action to be taken. Of course, government can restrict such actions on pretexts and make matters much worse.

Rhoda R
June 17, 2010 9:11 am

Tallbloke, I’m not entirely sure that there is no proper contingency — I know that the military has been taking CME type events seriously (mostly due to EMP concerns). A lot of military systems are protected to some degee or another and I suspect certain civilian sytems -like airliners-are also. What I don’t know is whether this type of concern is taken into account when upgrading civilian power systems.

Simon Stanley
June 17, 2010 9:13 am

I’ll be okay under my tin foil hat and I’ve already started preparing the house by wrapping that in tin foil. It also has the added benefit of reflecting the sun therefore helping to cool the earth down. It’s a win win situation, apart from the fact that I’m roasting like a chicken!!!!!!
The dog won’t stay still long enough so he’s on his own.

Dave Springer
June 17, 2010 9:38 am

re; Y2K scare
I was senior R&D engineer, BIOS programmer, at Dell in the 7 years leading up to Y2K. Fixes went into every BIOS and I’ve been a programmer or hardware engineer since the 1970’s and based on my knowledge didn’t think it would be a very significant event. The effect I was most interested in was the huge upward motion of sales and services in the computer industry. In the last 2-3 years before 1999 became 2000 I reckon’ about 5+ years of normal sales were packed into that timeframe and so was expecting a similarly sized downturn in sales in the few years following Y2K while the big spike in new computers aged into obsolescence enough to be taken out of service.

Sun Spot
June 17, 2010 9:46 am

Be afraid be very afraid, the new alarmist mantra used to stampede us what ever.
The Carrington Flare Thursday, September 1, 1859 , super flare dangers have always been with us not only since AGW alarmism. We should be alarmed about no sun spots !!
http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2008/06may_carringtonflare/

June 17, 2010 9:54 am

Looking at this list (admittedly, not a guaranteed reliable source of data… just something found through Google), the 2/11/58 and 3/13/89 and 10/29/2003 storms are of interest. Earlier storms look like they may have been large, but with little chance of doing more than interfering with the broadcast of a baseball game, or the use of telegraph lines. Mostly, they made pretty lights in the sky.
I imagine that this will be a lot like Y2K, where the potential what if is avoided because companies were reasonably diligent about building their infrastructure. On the other hand, I’m a little shocked at how quickly hard drives fail these days… ten years ago, they built them to last. These days, to hit a competitive price point, they make them out of tissue paper, and one sneeze loses years of irreplaceable data. So who knows how well prepared things are…
So a huge solar storm will be very interesting, to see which companies, nations and industries planned well, which cut corners, whose infrastructure is robust and whose was an accident waiting to happen.
It would also be very interesting to see how we (as individuals, as people) cope with a disruption in the electronic cushions to which we’ve grown so accustomed. I’m not saying it’s likely to happen, just that it will be an interesting experiment with modern society and culture.
I wonder if this solar flare will occur on 12/21/2012, or if <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0448011/"Knowing will be a popular movie On Demand as the likelihood of the storm approaches.

derise
June 17, 2010 10:02 am

Thank you for that Info Gail! Kind of a relief, had a mental image of Hansen selling brownies in front of a Staturn V Rocket. Somewhat disturbing….

June 17, 2010 10:08 am

Our sunspot prediction paper said:
“Average space weather might be ‘‘milder’’ with decreased solar activity, but the extreme events that dominate technological effects are not expected to disappear. In fact, they may become more common. Two of the eight strongest storms in the last 150 years occurred during solar cycle 14 (Rmax = 64) [Cliver and Svalgaard, 2004], while three of the five largest 30 MeV solar energetic proton events since 1859 [McCracken et al., 2001] occurred during cycle 13 (Rmax = 88).”
Large events can [and will] certainly occur. On the other hand, NASA’s alarmism is not called for.

June 17, 2010 10:11 am

there is up to 10 times the chance of large solar storms, in maximums following quiet minimums.

a few people have mentioned this, and it may be happen. it’s just that only a short while ago that NASA was selling the same exact story, only attributed to Cycle24, the biggest baddest solar cycle ever!
yep, they put a man on the moon with sliderules, but can’t seem to get anything right with the help of megaflop supercomputers. no wonder we laugh at their every wild prognostication.

David Corcoran
June 17, 2010 10:13 am

r says:
June 17, 2010 at 5:08 am
What’s scary is not that there are alarmist predictions, we always have those…
What’s scary is that it is NASA that is making them.
We trust NASA only because of the successful Apollo missions. But those people are gone…

It’s the “Boy That Cried Wolf” fable all over. NASA has engaged in so much climate alarmism and budget grubbing P/R that it’s hard to take any new warning, even on other topics, seriously.
A Carrington event will happen again, but in 2013? They’ve revised their predictions for this solar cycle HOW many times? 13? More?

Steve Oregon
June 17, 2010 10:32 am

Ok so we’re going to freeze, burn or have our electronics turned off.
I’ll take the freezing. Ya just kinda go to sleep.

Cassandra King
June 17, 2010 10:35 am

He said “large swathes of the world could go without power for several months”
Er maybe but the USA and europe certainly will go without power if they persist in building windmills and shutting down the fossil fuel based energy matrix and pricing energy out of the reach of the ordinary citizen. The effect of the wests energy policies coming into what may well be years of cold when energy demand would surge and at the same time closing down the only cost effective power supplier will do more damage and cost more lives than any solar storm we may experience.
Your Mr Obama and our Mr Cameron the ‘change you can(not) believe in’ duo are set to destroy the west with their ill thought out half baked crackpot ideas, no amount of shiny presentation will heat a poor persons house or power industry.

Spector
June 17, 2010 10:43 am

It looks like the typical width of a solar flare is on the order of 30 degrees and perhaps the peak force is as narrow as 20 degrees — my guess. So if the sun really does throw out a haymaker this time, it looks like the odds of it coming this way are on the order of one in 12 if they are confined to the plane of the ecliptic or about one in 60 if flares can emerge from any point on the solar surface with equal probability.
BTW I recall reading that there may be a new technique for obtaining an advanced warning of an emerging solar flare just before it takes off.

June 17, 2010 10:50 am

NASA’s job done. Got you all talking about it didn’t they.

Enneagram
June 17, 2010 10:51 am

Now I understand….in order to not be affected we should not have any electric connections at all, back to the dark ages again….but, wait, and what about Al’s invention, the internet?
Strong flares from the Sun?…who cares!….they can’t affect any grid since they are not electric at all, according to the latest post normal science universe conception.

Tilo Reber
June 17, 2010 10:56 am

Okay, so now we know that everybody has the same forumla for getting funding. It makes me yawn. Problem is, with all this crying wolf – are we going to ignore these idiots when a real problem comes along.

Donald M. Onysko
June 17, 2010 11:08 am

There are some things in the world that I’m skeptic about, one of which is alarmism involving global warming. But, I’m afraid that many of the flippant remarks noted on this post have been motivated by people’s negative opinions of some of the people and work that NASA does. On the subject of solar flares and their effect on our civilization, I’m not a skeptic. If I were at the beginning of my career in research, I would have switched to heavy electrical engineering to help prepare out electrical grids for that sometime coming event.
I encourage you to Google “Carrington Event” to learn about the solar flare in 1859 that took out many of the telegraph systems at that time. You will then appreciate the enormous effect a similar event would have on our electrical grids, and directly on everything that moves.
don_O

Garry
June 17, 2010 11:16 am

David Corcoran said at 10:13 am: “NASA has engaged in so much climate alarmism and budget grubbing P/R that it’s hard to take any new warning, even on other topics, seriously.”
Credit for the ongoing destruction of NASA’s reputation can be attributed directly to Dr. James E. Hansen and his ilk.

George E. Smith
June 17, 2010 11:18 am

Well just when the world was getting all set to go to electric cars; along comes magnetism; which is a part of electric motors; so as soon as you turn on the ignition key to start your electric car the magnetic fields from the high efficiency motors simply blow all the control electronics to smithereeens.
It’s enough to cause a headache just thinking about it. Just imagine all those Swiss watches going ape; every time they fire off the Large Hadron Collider.
The last time I had a magnetic attack was when my fountain pen got grabbed by the magnet on the back of the loudspeaker in my stereo system.
Izzere no end to this silliness. When the magnetic fields from high Voltage power lines overhead, were all the rage for causing everything from pregnancy to ringing in the ears; somebody calculated the total amount of electromagnetic field energy from power lines that you could get into a typical human body DNA molecule; and it was something like 27 orders of magnitude too low to cause a single broken bond in the molecule.
So what is the dominant frequency of the waves generated by these solar flares.
Speaking of electric cars; has it occurred to anybody else that the “Tesla” all electric car is just a modern day De’Lorean; busiwork for somebody with more time and money than he knows what to do with it; so he’s bored. The De’Lorean as I recall, had a stainless steel body. That would enable it to survive Taxi cab duty out on Christmas Island or maybe in the Bahamas.
Has anybody ever actually experienced a magnetic shut down of their automobile; unless it was being lifted by an electromagnet to drop it in the auto crushing recycle machine. Somehow the good guys always manage to crawl out of the rear window just before the car is reduced to a solid block of plastic and vinyl.

muttley247
June 17, 2010 11:23 am

This sounds serious. Having read some of the comments about damage to the infrastructure it would appear that there would be no electricity for airports such as landing lights, radar and landing systems. How could the alarmists jet to their international conferences to demand cuts in energy production? They ought to be careful what they wish for 🙂

Neo
June 17, 2010 11:26 am

It’s all about “Knowing

Billy Liar
June 17, 2010 11:32 am

Kirk Myers says:
June 17, 2010 at 7:20 am
‘By the way, NASA does mention in the story below that “even a below-average cycle is capable of producing severe space weather. The great geomagnetic storm of 1859, for instance, occurred during a solar cycle of about the same size we’re predicting for 2013.” ‘
But there have been 4 lower peaked cycles since 1859: viz 1884, 1894, 1907 and 1928.

GaryM
June 17, 2010 11:35 am

Quick, somebody raise NASA’s budget….

Tim
June 17, 2010 11:37 am

Does this mean they have given up on the AWG scare stories? Searching for the next alternative to protect/generate funding? It must be global and affect everyone…. hmmm meteors, not often enough, ah how about massive solar storms? They happen more often!
I know we’ve have large solar storms in the past that would have wiped out satellites if we had them at the time. It is only a matter of time before one hits which brings me to a serious question about this:
For earth based electrical equipment and a short solar storm (less than 8 hours) does it matter if you are on side of earth facing the storm or on the dark side?

PB-in-AL
June 17, 2010 11:38 am

You know the word “unprecedented” is really getting a workout over the last few years… it’s usage is unprecedented.
To quote Inigo Montoya, “I don’ think that word means whatchoo think it means.”

wayne
June 17, 2010 11:43 am

But surely with somewhere between 18 hours and 2 or 3 days notice our power companies could have enough lead time to notify customers for minimal use and disconnect key long-haul intersections to the national grid. It’s the long interstate wires that are the most vulnerable to the induced current if still attached. A thirty to forty mile radius local grid should have no problem with small area exposed to the generated magnetic field, or that has always been my understanding. Isn’t that basically correct?
Now I can see the small telegraph lines, made to carry minimal voltage and current, many hundreds of miles long picking up enough induced current to actually burn them out. Wasn’t that what actually occurred in 1859? (hopefully without delving into calculations of electric/magnetic field densities, Gauss, Coulomb and such)
Also I can’t relate to the danger of the satellites unless someone can clarify in terms of the magnitudes of magnetic field or plasma density, etc. At the global scale is a whole other matter, yes, aurora down to the tropics and other world-scale phenomena.
If I’m way off, please add some facts to clarify.

Social Antisocialist
June 17, 2010 12:14 pm

I don’t get it. I thought the sun was heating up the earth, not CO2, but the sun has been in a “deep slumber”. What gives?

June 17, 2010 12:25 pm

We are all doomed! If isn’t solar storm than its meteor storm ! Get a tin hat !
NASA warns new meteor storm ‘could damage Hubble and International Space Station’
Satellites such as the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station are under new threat from the most powerful meteor storm in more than a decade, Nasa scientists have warned.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/7835232/Nasa-warns-new-meteor-storm-could-damage-Hubble-and-International-Space-Station.html

Editor
June 17, 2010 12:33 pm

Donald M. Onysko says:
June 17, 2010 at 11:08 am
“There are some things in the world that I’m skeptic about, one of which is alarmism involving global warming. But, I’m afraid that many of the flippant remarks noted on this post have been motivated by people’s negative opinions of some of the people and work that NASA does. On the subject of solar flares and their effect on our civilization, I’m not a skeptic.”
I referred to the Carrington event much earlier in the thread-an extract follows;.
“tonyb says:
June 17, 2010 at 3:36 am
We discussed this some months ago in another context and there is a definite precedent-the Carrington event of 1859
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859
I had a small amount of discussion with Leif about it who said it was likely to happen again and the consequences would be disastrous.”
Like you, I’m somewhat surprised that some people are taking this so lightly. I think its a matter of NASA continually crying ‘wolf!’ which has turned people off.
To me the possibility of another Carrington type event is much more real, immediate, and threatening than the highly notional problem of CAGW. However here we are throwing billions at the latter and yet are doing nothing about the former.
We are highly dependent on all the technology that would be fundamentally affected by a Carrington type event. I doubt Nasa’s predictions, but one will surely effect us in ten/twenty/fifty years. Of equal concern is the damage that a determined electrical attack by a terrorist organisation could do on our advanced civilisations that are so utterly dependent on computers. This is NOT science fiction and we would be well advised to syphon off a fraction of the CAGW money towards protecting our infrastructure against electrical catastrophe, man made or natural, that will surely otherwise devastate us at some unspecfied point within the medium future.
tonyb

Henry chance
June 17, 2010 12:40 pm

This electromagnetic firestorm will hit the poles. We will see brown Poley bears over toasted like marshmallows.

June 17, 2010 12:41 pm

Carrington type event would be even more forceful now, since the geomagnetic field’s protection is 10-12 % weaker now than it was in 1859. Only Siberia is stronger, but then there isn’t much to be damaged there.

June 17, 2010 12:45 pm

Billy Liar says:
June 17, 2010 at 11:32 am
But there have been 4 lower peaked cycles since 1859: viz 1884, 1894, 1907 and 1928.
And some of those had some of the strongest solar storms on record…

June 17, 2010 12:52 pm

Enneagram says:
Hey buddies, either you fire your WRITERS or you should revise your most dear and beloved theories
vukcevic: The AGW boys are real amateurs in the science of ‘fiddling science’ when compared to ‘doctoring’ going in the solar science.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/06/10/that-solar-sinking-feeling/#comment-411458

Enneagram
June 17, 2010 1:00 pm

Vuk etc. says:
June 17, 2010 at 12:52 pm

“E pur si muove” (Galileo Galilei)

Randy Westcott
June 17, 2010 1:04 pm

At the time of the Y2K affair, I was the systems manager of a daily newspaper. The reality is that we had no problems because of Y2K. We had no problems because we put many man-hours into making sure we had no problems. If we had not done the work, there would have been difficulties. We tested, tested, tested, found the problems, and fixed them. Some organizations did not do the work and there were horror stories – some bad code, some legacy hardware issues. There were real flaws, especially in older equipment. For those who had later equipment and clean code, they were mostly home free
There have been several sizable solar events in the last 150 years. Most of them were not directed at Earth. Lucky us. Although the 11/04/2003 solar event that missed us may have been the largest flare recorded, the 9/01/1859 Carrington Event is surely the most powerful known to have hit the planet. Fortunately, monster solar flares don’t slam us often. Nevertheless, they do happen and another Carrington-like event will hit us again – someday. For the 1859 Carrington, the highest technology level was the telegraph. In 2010, humanity’s existence clearly depends on useful but vulnerable technology. But a maybe civilization-damaging solar flare could happen anytime. What I would like to know is: how would our modern society weather such a storm? My thought is that a Carrington type event, similar to that of 1859, would be a disaster if we don’t prepare for it.
Most organizations successfully prepared for Y2K and we can prepare for a new Carrington Event threat. We need information. Doing research and building information used to be what the US federal government did tolerably well instead of its current preoccupation with controlling every aspect of existence. Therefore, I give the task to the feds. Find out the threat level for a new Carrington Event. If there’s a problem, find out how we can survive a new Carrington Event. March!

Editor
June 17, 2010 1:05 pm

jack morrow says:
June 17, 2010 at 6:42 am

This probably could happen and even Arthur C. Clarke wrote a book about the possibility of this occurring.

So did James Michener in “Space.” IIRC, a single scientist was concerned about the possibility of major flares occurring during relatively quiet periods (Leif – Help?) but without stronger evidence his concerns weren’t passed upward. Of course, on occurs while astronauts are on the moon and can’t make it back to command module before becoming incapacitated.
At the ICCC I talked with Harrison Schmitt about issues crossing the Van Allen radiation belt, which I once heard as a reason why the moon landings had to be fakes. He confirmed that they crossed it quickly enough to not be a problem, and then mentioned that solar flares were a much bigger concern.
A few inches of water apparently do a decent job of blocking things, so I think water tanks on the ISS are used as a shield for a safe area. We didn’t get into the details.

June 17, 2010 1:10 pm

Enneagram says:
“E pur si muove”
Deo volente

Spector
June 17, 2010 1:33 pm

RE: Social Antisocialist: (June 17, 2010 at 12:14 pm) “I don’t get it. I thought the sun was heating up the earth, not CO2, but the sun has been in a “deep slumber”. What gives?”
This is old news. If you haven’t noticed, the sun has been unusually quiet for the past two years, often going many days on end with not a single sunspot to be seen. A minimal resumption of ‘normal’ sunspot activity began this spring. While it’s too soon to say for sure, the warming trend over the past 30 years has shown signs of topping out and the possible development of a reverse trend.

Bob Parker
June 17, 2010 1:35 pm

And what’s going to happen to all them new babies with the micro chip in their brain courtesy of our new Global Government.

crosspatch
June 17, 2010 1:36 pm

if thousands of transformers are blown out, it would be months to replace them all and get everything back up and running. I don’t know of any country that carries an extra inventory of thousands of transformers in some warehouse. Tens of thousands of dollars per transformer, and days to make one.

I believe there would be a thriving market in transformer refurbishing. I know we are “trained” these days to think “throw out the old one and buy a new one” but in this case, I believe we would see them being re-wound.
A repeat of the event in 1859 would be “interesting” today. Think about airplanes in flight and “bullet trains” underway.

1DandyTroll
June 17, 2010 1:40 pm

>-T h e S i l e n c e O f T h e I n t e r n e t s s s-<
It'll just go: click.
I wonder though, with about 15 years of car having been integrated with computers, and planes and trains even longer, not to mention ships, how many train, planes, and automobiles, have been fried so far due to solar flares?
Perhaps the sats and what not floating around up there, and out there in deeper space, was manufactured 100% analog, or perhaps nobody told the manufacturers how "obscenely fragile" computers really are.
Christ, if you think your computer is that fragile, why on earth did you buy it in the first place?

wayne
June 17, 2010 1:43 pm

Great time for me to rant a bit: (NASA has my dander up with this article)
Ok, tonyb, I read you, and I somewhat agree with you, but not immediately with some of your fears. I want the numbers, the physics behind both sides of this discussion. If it’s no worry to somebody I wish they would supply the numbers that make them think that way. If somebody thinks it will destroy the world as we know it, I wish they would supply the numbers as to how this is going to unfold, scientifically.
The earth’s magnetic field is somewhere between 30 and 60 micro Tesla. It’s sixty near northern Canada and Argentina. If a Carrington magnitude hits us, what will the magnetic field max at. What was it in 1859? We have polar orbit satellites above the Aurora Borealis without harm. If the aurora extends down to the tropics is that supposed to destroy their electronics. By itself I think not.
How about the pure strength of the solar wind? Enough to throw the satellites pointing off track temporarily? Ok, what’s the density. In 1859 the particles hit 18 hours later, that’s about six times faster that normal of 400,000 m/s. By the time it hits Earth lets say the density is 10 times (WAG) normal. That’s 6^2*10 or 360 time the normal force. Is that enough to harm? Leif says the solar wind is so incredibly diffuse it has no effect, on the climate at least. Is 360 times that for a period of an hour or two of any real danger? Don’t know.
How about the magnetic field strength and flux? That could generate electricity in all wires but it then depends on how long, how many turns in a transformer (the volume), and the field strength. Very long wires, yes, there is a problem. Wires in your computer (18 inches) or in a satellite (2 meters), I’m not sold.
NASA just had to put in the X-ray camera that was burnt out in one of the last flares. But it was extremely sensitive and aimed directly at it, no wonder it burned out. That has nothing to do with the satellites electronics being burnt out.
Plasma at the satellites altitude can be there but only by the density of the molecules. I think insignificant, can’t imagine enough matter to harm, satellites are isolated. I rub cat-fur on glass and charge my body up to 50,000 volts, you can’t feel it (unless you then touch some conductor, then you can!). That’s my point.
You see, I want to know why, how, and how large in numbers. It’s amazing on a science site as this how devoid of any real answers the comments portray, lot’s of generals on both sides but after spending hours reading you’ve actually learned little. NASA for sure is not going to just blurt this information out. That’s their protected knowledge. Here at WUWT we can only rely on the expertise of the engineers, scientists, enthusiasts to supply these numbers. If anyone can fill in, please do so.
Is there a real problem? Some dangers I see, some I don’t think even exist. It would be nice to know pretty close which is which.
I’ve told most of what I think and know (saving any equations for later if needed), does anyone know something else to clarify this? I hate meaningless worry.
/rant off

Enneagram
June 17, 2010 1:44 pm

In a solar minimum should we expect more electrons or more protons coming from the sun?

Dave, UK
June 17, 2010 1:53 pm

It will disrupt communication devices such as satellites and car navigations, air travel, the banking system, our computers, everything that is electronic. It will cause major problems for the world.
Oh, the horror! It’s like the Y2K disaster all over again!

frederik wisse
June 17, 2010 1:57 pm

Scaremongering ? Yes this is really what it is all about ! Cap and trade must be pushed through before the next US election and nothing is absurd enough to frighten the public . Any real scientist may confirm that given the magnetic field strengths around the earth the chances are very dim that a solar outburst may have severe consequences for the earth itself . Furthermore the sun is not very active right now and may even stay in a state of slumber during the whole 24th measured sunspotcycle with very small chances of casual flares , which must then be directed straight to the earth , which is a chance of 1 in 10.000 or something comparable .
From my point of view we are dealing here with eco-terrorism funded by a state in disarray . A class of green-crypto communist fidels is trying to make a total power-grab by scaring the hell out of normal reasonable people and it may even be orchestrated at the highest possible level in our society , knowing that the time to install a rigid power-system may be running out in sight of new elections .
This story is completely logical and in line with other stories about the present socalled unprecedented warming and the unparalelled disappearance of sea-ice !
Please take time to check the prophesies of mr hathaway and other nasa burocrats
over the last 10 years and you may find out that none of their prophecies ever came true , but that they were very helpful in obtaining government grants , so is it unreasonable that the government wants something in return noticing an eroding acceptance by the voters of their cap and trade scheme ?
Who was the biggest supporter of cap and trade in the us ? Enron or BP ?
Were they both so interested in the wellbeing of our society ?
Does Mr Obama reflect honesty , straightforwardness , leadership , decency or humbleness in view of the BP – disaster ? So what is the result when this guy is really getting a stress – test ?

LarryOldtimer
June 17, 2010 2:15 pm

A good many natural events have happened in historical times which could wreak havoc with modern civilization, even destroy civilization as we know it. Due to complex interdependencies which have developed over the past century or so, our vulnerability as a “civilization” has substantially increased.
There is little to nothing we could do to “prepare for” a recurrence of the vast majority of these natural events, although there might be considerable peace of mind for many if we pretended that we are “working on it”.
Better to not spend all too much of our resources in this pretense.

Z
June 17, 2010 2:24 pm

For a Carrington type event to happen, a CME will actually have to hit the earth/its magnetosphere. Although the earth is as big as a barn (a large barn at that), it is rather a long way away, and so quite a difficult thing to hit.
Cars’ electronic systems will probably get off quite lightly, as they are their own Faraday cages. Unless you have a Trabant that is. But if you can knock out the electronics in a Trabant, then you’re doing rather well.
Powerlines do have circuit breakers near the transformers for that other common electro-magnetic event called “being hit by lightning”. It is possible that the current/voltage will rise too quickly for those breakers to react, but equally you’d have thought the inductance inherent in transformer design would severely crimp any rapid change in voltage.
There is a huge amount of difference being able to melt what is effectively bell-wire and being able to melt what is effectively thick copper rod – 300KVA takes no prisoners at the best of times.

June 17, 2010 2:25 pm

crosspatch says:
A repeat of the event in 1859 would be “interesting” today. Think about airplanes in flight and “bullet trains” underway.
We’ll get 3-4 day ‘yellow alert’ for standby, and perhaps a day or two ‘RED ALERT’.

Curt
June 17, 2010 2:27 pm

I wonder if this announcement has anything to do with the pending legislation in Congress:
******************************
“New legislation, passed June 9 by the U.S. House of Representatives and referred to the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources committee, hopes to strengthen the grid’s robustness against attacks of many kinds. The immediate aim of the Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense Act is to direct the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the main federal agency responsible for electricity matters, to establish security rules for utilities and other energy companies.
The GRID Act amends the old power law by recognizing several threats to the grid. One of these is an attack that tampers with grid computer control systems. Some utilities report fending off thousands of such cyber-attacks per day. Another is infrequent but potent geomagnetic storms, which can happen when eruptions of material from the sun send cascades of particles into Earth’s atmosphere. These particles can cause beautiful auroral displays (“northern lights”), but can burn out the wiring in orbiting satellites and induce short-lived but large voltage surges in grid equipment on the ground. Past such storms have burned out expensive equipment and left millions in the dark. A carefully detonated nuclear bomb could emit radiation pulses that could do some of the same damage.”
http://www.physorg.com/news195752582.html
*********************************************
Nah, I’m sure it’s a complete coincidence….
Actually, I do think this is something worth worrying about, and investing resources in.

Enneagram
June 17, 2010 2:28 pm

Is this “EX-CATHEDRA”?
Nasa warns solar flares from ‘huge space storm’ will cause devastation

June 17, 2010 2:29 pm

Enneagram says:
June 17, 2010 at 1:44 pm
In a solar minimum should we expect more electrons or more protons coming from the sun?
More electrons [a little bit] as not all positive charges are protons [some are Helium nuclei or heavier]. But we at all times we obviously expect the same number of negative charges as positive charges. If the were an excess of one charge leaving, the Sun would build up a charge with the opposite sign that would attract the leaving charges and restore neutrality.

Enneagram
June 17, 2010 2:31 pm

“Be more fearful of men than of the stars and much more of those who think they are stars”

phlogiston
June 17, 2010 2:31 pm

I dont get it – in the Sporer and Maunder minima, there were a series of weak solar cycles. Did each one have a huge Carrington flare event at its low amplitude centre? If not, why should this minimum have them?

June 17, 2010 2:32 pm

I just happened to catch Joe Bastardi’s blog about this issue.
http://www.accuweather.com/ukie/bastardi-europe-blog.asp
I was just googling Joe Bastardi to try to get his winter forecast and that was near the top. Of course also near the top was the slander campaign by those who hate accurate forecasts. But that is for another day.
I love Joe’s outspokenness. He is not afraid of speaking his mind. (I think that why pro-AGW website’s slander him: when you cannot attack the message, attack the messenger.) There is a whole of good information in his blog post. Just read it please.

alan
June 17, 2010 2:33 pm

Robustly devastating!

June 17, 2010 2:44 pm

Rhoda R says:
June 17, 2010 at 9:11 am
Tallbloke, I’m not entirely sure that there is no proper contingency — I know that the military has been taking CME type events seriously (mostly due to EMP concerns). A lot of military systems are protected to some degee or another and I suspect certain civilian sytems -like airliners-are also. What I don’t know is whether this type of concern is taken into account when upgrading civilian power systems.

There is no easy way to protect the electricity infrastructure. The main concerns for any civilisation are water supply, food distribution and sanitation. The U.S. military has some pretty impressive resources, but I think even they would be hard pressed keeping supermarkets stocked country wide.

ann r
June 17, 2010 2:44 pm

Whether the potential crisis might be solar flares, enemy high level atomic bursts, earthquake, hurricane, ice storm, war, infrastructure damage by terrorists, whatever, these things do happen. It pays to make some simple emergency preparations like stored water, some kind of non-electric cooking apparatus, some simple food stocks, etc. Whatever the crisis, it is too late to do anything after it hits. No emergency, no problem! But any crisis will make you very happy for whatever preparations you make.

Enneagram
June 17, 2010 2:53 pm

Wade :
Piers Corbyn forecasts more deluges:
http://www.weatheraction.com/docs/WANews10No21.pdf

June 17, 2010 2:54 pm

Z says:
June 17, 2010 at 2:24 pm
you’d have thought the inductance inherent in transformer design would severely crimp any rapid change in voltage.
There is a huge amount of difference being able to melt what is effectively bell-wire and being able to melt what is effectively thick copper rod – 300KVA takes no prisoners at the best of times.

http://image3.examiner.com/images/blog/wysiwyg/image/transformer_vert.jpg

June 17, 2010 2:56 pm

GISS is a part of NASA, and Dave Hoffer has found some interesting artifacts that emerge from the GISS massaging of climate data.

Editor
June 17, 2010 2:57 pm

Wayne said to me;
“Ok, tonyb, I read you, and I somewhat agree with you, but not immediately with some of your fears. I want the numbers, the physics behind both sides of this discussion.”
I completely agree with most of your comments. We need to find out if there is a problem, the size of it, and what if anything we should (or could) do about it.
There are many things that need fixing in our world and until we know the overall context we can’t know where a Carrington event rates in the great scheme of things. It certainly rates way above CAGW though 🙂
Tonyb

June 17, 2010 2:57 pm

CodeTech June 17, 2010 at 1:15 am ”
Oh man… where to begin? Nah, I’ll just point out that after all the warnings about this in the past, there was exactly ONE solar event that actually damaged anyone’s electronics, and that was, I think, 2004 or 2005 when a large percentage of GPS receivers were damaged.

Baloney; A) that would have made the ‘trade press’ and B) we would have had ‘customer returns’ afterwards …
.
.

June 17, 2010 3:02 pm

tallbloke June 17, 2010 at 2:44 pm :
There is no easy way to protect the electricity infrastructure.

Overblown.
I reference this post here:
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2333665/posts?page=163#163
Which references this paper:
http://arxiv.org/ftp/physics/papers/0307/0307127.pdf
Which has this abstract:

This paper primarily considers the potential effects of a single high-altitude nuclear burst on the U.S. power grid.
A comparison is made between EMP and natural phenomena such as lightning. This paper concludes that EMP is no more harmful to the power grid than its counterparts in nature.
An upper limit of the electric field of the very fast, high-amplitude EMP is derived from first principles.
The resulting values are significantly lower than the commonly presented values.
Additional calculations show that the ionization produced by a nuclear burst severely attenuates the EMP.

June 17, 2010 3:05 pm

Randy Westcott June 17, 2010 at 1:04 pm :
At the time of the Y2K affair, I was the systems manager of a daily newspaper. The reality is that we had no problems because of Y2K.

NONE of you ever had a mortgage schedule printed out? Gee, how did they ‘figure’ those dates beyond the year 2000 unless … the LIBRARIES the code had been linked with was already CORRECTED …
These ‘problems’ had been solved years in advance.
.
.

Joe Spencer
June 17, 2010 3:06 pm

It is indeed a great shame that NASA’s credibility now lies in such tatters, that we may never be inclined to take seriously what it says again.
Here is a short account of a past such event
from :
of a past such Electromagnetic event.

June 17, 2010 3:14 pm

cba June 17, 2010 at 9:07 am :
sorry folks but this is a real problem. we actually do live in a dangerous universe…
Such an event occurring today would destroy satellites and potentially even melt transformers in electric grid, unless they were taken out of service during the event.

I’ll bet no one has heard the term “islanding” as it refers to isolating the many interconnected areas of generation for the protection of the ‘tie-lines’ (transmission lines and transformers) making up that system.
I reference this post:
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2333665/posts?page=153#153
That discusses:
“They already have plans that are put in effect when geomagnetic storms begin to rage due to a very similar effect (when induced currents begin to flow in the high voltage transmission lines on so-called ‘tie lines’ between large generation and load-centers that comprise “the grid”.)”
And these docs: The plan (Training material for system operator in event of Solar Events) pdf format
Against: This Event
.
.

Al Gored
June 17, 2010 3:15 pm

It is clear that Obama needs to pass the Solar Activity Regulation Act immediately, or at least get the EPA to regulate it.
There will be costs, of course, but we must do it for the children.
I could be mistaken but I’m quite sure that this unregulated solar activity started under Bush Jr.

Joe Spencer
June 17, 2010 3:18 pm

Social Antisocialist says:
June 17, 2010 at 12:14 pm
I don’t get it. I thought the sun was heating up the earth, not CO2, but the sun has been in a “deep slumber”. What gives? ”
According to Svensmark et al. it’s that very magnetic activity from the Sun ‘though, that protects us from cosmic rays , which are a prime suspect for causing the warming, as explained here:- , so at least it shouldn’t be more air conditioners causing the blackouts.

Zeke the Sneak
June 17, 2010 3:48 pm

This is NOT science fiction and we would be well advised to syphon off a fraction of the CAGW money towards protecting our infrastructure against electrical catastrophe, man made or natural, that will surely otherwise devastate us at some unspecfied point within the medium future.
tonyb

This is another consequence of malpractice in science. The real threats, such as solar storms or a possible polar reversal, are being ignored. Satellites can be built to shut down and fold up at the onset signs of a solar flare. But these storms can reach earth in as little as half an hour.
The next line of defense is to have an overstock of launch vehicles to replace satellites that are vital and have lost function. This is not the case because of the military budget cuts this Administration has foolishly persued. We must heed this warning by NASA. Hostile nations are also developing the technology to knock out satellites. Why do you think then-Pres. Bush hit that defunct satellite with a missile? It was to demonstrate that we can do it; and it should be clear that this technology can be acquired by rogue nations.
The deep military cuts will be bitterly regretted in the event of this potential repeat of 1859. But then it will be too late.

Joe Spencer
June 17, 2010 4:03 pm

An account of some effects from earlier occurrences:-

Joe Spencer
June 17, 2010 4:05 pm

An account from some earlier occurrences:

Zeke the Sneak
June 17, 2010 4:28 pm

PS, I may have mispoke a little, as the actual military budget was not so much reduced but the technological defense capabilities of our nation have been greatly hobbled by Pres Obama.
In other news, Lord Monckton posted on the Thatcher thread
🙂

Spector
June 17, 2010 4:51 pm

RE: Billy Liar: (June 17, 2010 at 6:06 am ) “I’ve just consulted my 300-year diagram of international sunspot number to find that the 1856 minimum was neither deep nor long. Perhaps you could tell me where 1856 figures in the league table of minima both by length and depth?”
I have made an Excel plot showing 90-day moving-average smoothed data for every sunspot cycle from 1755 plotted against sunspot cycle 23 with the start of each cycle aligned with the start of sunspot cycle 23 (1996.) On my plot as of late 2009, the smoothed ends of cycle 23 (1996) and cycle 9 (1844) appear to be tracking each other fairly closely.

June 17, 2010 5:28 pm

Wade says:
June 17, 2010 at 2:32 pm
I just happened to catch Joe Bastardi’s blog about this issue.
http://www.accuweather.com/ukie/bastardi-europe-blog.asp
I love Joe’s outspokenness. He is not afraid of speaking his mind. (I think that why pro-AGW website’s slander him: when you cannot attack the message, attack the messenger.) There is a whole of good information in his blog post. Just read it please.

He is indeed outspoken, and has this to say about Landsheidt.info
Far more accurate in the prediction of this sunspot cycle has been this site…
http://www.landscheidt.info/?q=node/50
They are far more accurate in their assessment than what is going on with NASA and NOAA, who seem to re-write and re-do data. Please get on the site and read what they have to say, and how the way NASA is measuring sunspots is not the way we measured them in previous times, just as they are adjusting temperatures from before the satellite age, and then using the satellite measurements to justify warming. You simply can’t change the way you measure things, and then say they are the same. You can’t know that people recording sunspots in the early 1800s would have the same count as you have today, when you can see so much more. In any case, it can’t get much quieter. I have been watching the site…

wayne
June 17, 2010 5:32 pm

Hi tonyb,
At “_Jim says: June 17, 2010 at 3:14 pm” is a link to what really happened in 1989 CME. See “The Plan”. Great info. That type of info really makes this whole thing a bit clearer.
Maybe the power companies shouldn’t use the Earth as one of the 3-phase star legs. Saves lots of expensive high-voltage cable but look the vulnerability it leaves open!
Still can’t find how it’s suppose to burn out satellites. Also it is curious that apparently no satellites were damaged in the 1989 CME that brought the grid down, maybe the circuitry is more robust in the older satellites.

latitude
June 17, 2010 6:04 pm

The sunspots are starting….
The sunspots are not starting…..
The sunspots are starting………
The sunspots are not starting…..
This would be funny if it wasn’t so sad, does anyone believe any of their predictions any more?

1DandyTroll
June 17, 2010 6:07 pm

Here’s a thought, what would happen to earth’s temperatures if the core like got a cold so to speak. Would the greenies still denounce the sun as a major climate change and global warming player I wonder.
If everything else was the same except the heat from the earth’s core, what would it really do to the average global temperature? What if it was the other way around, cora is the same but remove the sun? How much does various 300-800 ppm concentrations of CO2 difference make then, after all CO2 retransfer heat from the earth.

Randy Westcott
June 17, 2010 6:09 pm

June 17, 2010 at 3:05 pm
Randy Westcott June 17, 2010 at 1:04 pm :
At the time of the Y2K affair, I was the systems manager of a daily newspaper. The reality is that we had no problems because of Y2K.
NONE of you ever had a mortgage schedule printed out? Gee, how did they ‘figure’ those dates beyond the year 2000 unless … the LIBRARIES the code had been linked with was already CORRECTED …
These ‘problems’ had been solved years in advance.
———————————————————
Off topic really, but please let me deal with it.
And what do you do with a legacy machine running PDP-11 assembler and keeping time on a chip that did not have a large enough register to keep time, and date, (the clock) beyond 12/31/2000. It would count up to a certain point and then, overflow city. True story. We had it. The best people in the industry looked at the problem. The way it was setup it was impossible to fix by replacing the component or changing the code. So we lied to the computer by telling it was in 1978 (I think) so it would keep track of the Julian date properly. Then we started looking for a replacement system; but the damned PDP-11 kept running. An industry wide problem. It was an editorial system. The dates for the newspaper banner all came out of the typesetter anyway as someone’s deliberate action on that day and were not dependent on the computer. I think someone eventually found a fix for the problem – maybe with some special hardware.
Someone in the early 80’s built TI minicomputer code that had the date 19XX hard coded. This date issue could make life interesting when the year flips to 2000. Had to be found and changed. Apparently someone could not conceive that the century would change. Things like that. There were some RPG issues. Unix code worked fine. There were a couple of Microsoft problems. No Apple problems that I recall. Applications like dBase and Lotus worked properly. But, some code built in the early 80’s was “lazy” code. The people who programmed those things might have taken the easy way to get a job done, leaving the fixing for someone else.
This was back in the days of the typesetter. Parts of a newspaper page would come out of the typesetter to be pasted up on a full page. You mention a mortgage schedule. If it was to go in the paper then it likely comes in as customer copy, camera ready, and is pasted up on a page for the camera and a plate is made for the press. Or, someone might code a piece for the typesetter using numbers the assistant controller or a wizard (me) worked out on a spreadsheet. There was none of the WYSIWYG business. This world is foreign to most people. In ten years, much has changed.
Let’s get back to Carrington Events.

CodeTech
June 17, 2010 6:14 pm

_Jim says:
June 17, 2010 at 2:57 pm

CodeTech June 17, 2010 at 1:15 am ”
Oh man… where to begin? Nah, I’ll just point out that after all the warnings about this in the past, there was exactly ONE solar event that actually damaged anyone’s electronics, and that was, I think, 2004 or 2005 when a large percentage of GPS receivers were damaged.
Baloney; A) that would have made the ‘trade press’ and B) we would have had ‘customer returns’ afterwards …

December 2005. As many as 15% of receivers had reduced reception capability after the event.
This stuff is not hard to find, you know.

It's always Marcia, Marcia
June 17, 2010 6:54 pm

Another rabbit trail that takes up peoples time and energy.

KenB
June 17, 2010 7:18 pm

Sad, when all a man can do is fear, fear itself! Have any of you ever stood outside in the midst of a raging electrical storm and felt the exhilaration of experiencing the power of nature, of understanding that whatever you think, nature is more powerful and within that power and fury it is a beauty to withhold.
If we are to fear everything that is natural and just might occur, is to lose the opportunity to live in harmony with nature, accept that there will be cruel experiences and some hardship for that is the way of nature.
Science, understanding and theories might give man a puny thought of control, but if the lightning just happens to strike YOU the jigs up! If it misses, you get a second chance – make the most of that opportunity, as maybe your time on this planet wasn’t up!Man is cautious, adapts to the environment, and man survives, and when the time comes that man does not survive, then you and I won’t be concerned with that.
Its wise to take some precautions when dealing with nature, you don’t usually walk about in a storm holding a lightning conductor to lessen you chances of surviving that electrical storm, but also remember, you can cower in a cave and still be drowned or buried under its collapse in a storm or lose life because some other wild animal or reptile sought shelter and needs to survive.
Sometimes man has to accept his place, deal with the cards he has been dealt. You can take all the precautions against your fears, and something completely unexpected will bite you on the B*m!! That’s nature and life, sometimes risk management doesn’t work!!

j ferguson
June 17, 2010 7:22 pm

Regarding the “damaged GPSs” in 2004, 2005, SWMBO and I live on a boat and did at that time. I can vaguely remember something like a “system reset” that was announced in advance and if I remember correctly caused our 2 systems to (gasp) reset.
There was also a software issue on one of our older Garmins maybe a year or two earlier which for some reason cured itself.
But no crashes, sorry guys.

Les Francis
June 17, 2010 7:27 pm

I posted this link above.
It answers a lot of conjecture on previous posts. It’s a PDF document written by a Military (Naval) solar physicist on the causes and effects of major C.M.E.’s
Read it before posting
Solar Storm Threat Analysis

Steven Hill
June 17, 2010 7:54 pm

“In a new warning, Nasa said the super storm would hit like “a bolt of lightning” and could cause catastrophic consequences for the world’s health, emergency services and national security unless precautions are taken”
Code for we need to raise your taxes to 70% of your income asap!

OkieSkeptic
June 17, 2010 9:13 pm

Maybe a bit off topic but I don’t think most people realize the amount of food they already have on hand in an emergency. When my wife cornered me into re-organizing the pantry and cabinets once I decided to record all the calories of all edible items (including vegetable oils, flours etc which are edible in an emergency). I came up with around 200,000 calories which would serve 2 people about 3 months (100 days) with no weight loss @ 2000 calories each per day. I don’t think that most people realize how much emergency food they already have on hand.
Most electronic items would not be susceptible if turned off or not operating, and one would think that there would be several hours warning for this. Most all military hardware is well protected against spikes of this kind because of required protection from nuclear burst EMP. And commercial aircraft somewhat less so because of requirements for electrical system protection from radio frequency interference.

June 17, 2010 9:31 pm

Northern Exposure says:
June 17, 2010 at 1:30 am

I also noted from the telegraph article that Dr. Fisher states : “… power grids, would be without power and access to electronic devices for hours, possibly even days.”
Sorry Dr. Fisher, but I think the realistic picture there would be more in the area of ‘months’ rather than hours/days… if thousands of transformers are blown out, it would be months to replace them all and get everything back up and running. I don’t know of any country that carries an extra inventory of thousands of transformers in some warehouse. Tens of thousands of dollars per transformer, and days to make one.

You’re think about little transformers. Consider those on long high voltage runs,
they get strong induced currents, and those can blow out transformers at
generating stations, e.g.
http://www.spacew.com/gic/index.html which says in part:
“The cost to PSE&G for replacing this transformer was on the order of several million U.S. dollars. The cost of replacement energy during the time the transformer was taken out of service was about $400,000 a day for 6 weeks (3), or approximately ~16.8 million dollars. The net cost for PSE&G was therefore over 20 million.”
A photo at that web page shows the destroyed windings on the transformer.

Dave F
June 17, 2010 9:33 pm

Or, alternatively, it could hit North Korea and turn the lights on?

LightRain
June 17, 2010 9:51 pm

According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859 they say under History that “Ice cores show evidence that events of similar intensity recur at an average rate of approximately once per 500 years. Since 1859, less severe storms have occurred in 1921 and 1960, when widespread radio disruption was reported.”
So is it 150 years, we’re overdue; or 500 years and we have nothing to worry about?

wayne
June 17, 2010 9:59 pm

Les Francis:
Thanks for some good information Les.
Solar Storm Threat Analysis
Found it curious that we receive one large SPE ever 2.9 mean years (154 in 450). When I was very young I remember hearing of radio blackouts a couple of times, that must be these large SPE events. Interesting.
That’s a good bit of what I was looking for, thanks again for finding this.
Oh, BTW, shores up that any damage to satellites is degradation if under shielded and comes from high energy protons and other ions. That makes sense, not induce voltage and current causing it to literally “burn out”. In NASA’s word above it was ‘disrupt’ not ‘destroy’, at least that word proved correct. Here we go with another “possibly could occur with damage” Y2K or a “it will happen one day but don’t know if it’s tomorrow or 300 years from now”, we’ll get small ones every few years but wait for that big one. Brother!
But it does sound like they need to handle that small problem with the grid and tying one leg of the high-voltage 3-phase power lines to earth. Never knew they did that on the big scale. After learning that it’s the induced current within the Earth that is the real culprit, that does seem problematic. That’s the same problem you get with lightning if you incorrectly ground your house, only BIG.
Wish they wouldn’t just wait till it “trips”, if people had a way to be warned and knew it was on it’s way most would just turn unnecessary big power items off.

June 17, 2010 10:49 pm

_Jim says:
June 17, 2010 at 3:02 pm
A comparison is made between EMP and natural phenomena such as lightning. This paper concludes that EMP is no more harmful to the power grid than its counterparts in nature.

Did you see the image I posted with the burned out transformer?
A nuclear explosion contain less energy than a hurricane. Lightning is a spark compared to a big solar flare.

June 17, 2010 11:05 pm

LightRain says:
June 17, 2010 at 9:51 pm
According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859 they say under History that “Ice cores show evidence that events of similar intensity recur at an average rate of approximately once per 500 years. Since 1859, less severe storms have occurred in 1921 and 1960, when widespread radio disruption was reported.”
So is it 150 years, we’re overdue; or 500 years and we have nothing to worry about?

Probably depends whether you work out the odds on a random basis or whether you agree with NASA scientist Ching Cheh Hung that solar flares etc tend to occur when planets are right overhead. Perhaps Leif can explain…

June 17, 2010 11:21 pm

tallbloke says:
June 17, 2010 at 11:05 pm
Probably depends whether you work out the odds on a random basis or whether you agree with NASA scientist Ching Cheh Hung that solar flares etc tend to occur when planets are right overhead. Perhaps Leif can explain…
Put on your tin-foil hat when the planets are in certain positions. There is no credible evidence for any of that. There are millions of flares and microflares in a solar cycle and you can find some to coincide with anything you want. Conversely, there are plenty of combinations of alignments so you can easily find something that coincides with those. NASA and the Space Weather Agencies thankfully do not employ astrology in their forecasts of solar activity.

Dennis Wingo
June 17, 2010 11:28 pm

Still can’t find how it’s suppose to burn out satellites. Also it is curious that apparently no satellites were damaged in the 1989 CME that brought the grid down, maybe the circuitry is more robust in the older satellites.
Galaxy 15 took a solar flare related hit just this past April
http://sxi.ngdc.noaa.gov/sxi_greatest.html
http://www.accuweather.com/blogs/Astronomy/story/31455/galaxy-15-problems.asp
There are several ways that CME can damage spacecraft. One is differential charging in the plasma environment where one part of the spacecraft is suddenly at a much higher potential than the rest of the bird and ZAP.
Another is through enhanced radiation, especially in GEO. When a CME happens the Earth’s magnetosphere contracts, sometimes radically. During quiet times the bowshock is out at over 100,000 miles from the planet. However, during a storm the bowshock can be compressed to below GEOSync altitudes (~33,600 km). This can bring a lot of enhanced proton radiation into the spacecraft, causing single event upsets, latch ups (radiation induced shorts in a silicon substrate that destroy a chip), and overall degredation of critical systems such as solar arrays and other hardware.
Exact numbers vary as some spacecraft (military) are protected through parts selection, design considerations, and ability to ramp down operations during a major blast. Commercial spacecraft are not as well protected but here is a number that I know. The GEO environment in 1 MEV equivalent fluence is about 10^12 (my memory may be faulty on the exponent and I don’t remember the other units.
The total dose that a spacecraft gets in GEO during a 15 year lifetime is about 50 kilorads where a LEO spacecraft gets about 30 kilorads. This can be accumulated in a single day of a really big storm. I would expect that after reading about the Aurora being visible in Cuba that a commercial bird would probably get its lifetime total dose in an hour. Military spacecraft are qualified into the megarads (exact numbers are usually classified) but even this dose would probably be absorbed in a day or two.
So yes Virginia, the 1859 Carrington event would strike a major blow to our space based assets.

June 17, 2010 11:42 pm

Leif Svalgaard says:
June 17, 2010 at 11:21 pm
tallbloke says:
June 17, 2010 at 11:05 pm
Probably depends whether you work out the odds on a random basis or whether you agree with NASA scientist Ching Cheh Hung that solar flares etc tend to occur when planets are right overhead. Perhaps Leif can explain…
Put on your tin-foil hat when the planets are in certain positions. There is no credible evidence for any of that. There are millions of flares and microflares in a solar cycle and you can find some to coincide with anything you want. Conversely, there are plenty of combinations of alignments so you can easily find something that coincides with those. NASA and the Space Weather Agencies thankfully do not employ astrology in their forecasts of solar activity.

NASA scientist Ching Cheh Hung’s analysis is statistically significant. But without getting into that debate again, as we’ve done it to death before on other threads here, how did you arrive at your 150 year estimate you gave us last time? Obviously via a method more rigorous than Ching Cheh Hung’s analysis, or you wouldn’t be calling him out as an astrologer, would you?

Amino Acids in Meteorites
June 18, 2010 1:34 am

Joe Bastardi isn’t buying it either.
“Run, Hide, the Sun Is Coming to Get You (If You Trust NASA)”
http://www.accuweather.com/video/96827541001/run-hide-the-sun-is-coming-to-get-you-%28if-you-trust-nasa%29.asp?channel=vbbastaj

MA
June 18, 2010 2:23 am

NASA should say that they don’t have a clue when the large solar storm which hits populated areas on the Earth will occur, only that it may should occur at any century.
tallbloke, are you sure that Svalgaard said something like “a flare might be expected to hit Earth once every 150 years or so”? That it occurred 150 years ago doesn’t indicate a periodicity. It might happen two times within a few decades, or it might take hundreds of years of time before it happens again. I guess it may happen in a few months or in a few centuries, stochastically as one number from a tombola.
It’s okay that an organization like NASA mention the risk, and asks us to take precautionary actions. Such warnings must not be a fund raising alarm, and they should be made by NASA. But this warning was unfortunately connected to this particular sunspot cycle. I agree with Stephen Wilde’s comment June 17 4:35 am.
The location of the next large solar flare to hit the Earth is also a non-predictable, stochastic variable. This is both good news and bad news. It’s good because it may take several hundreds of years before a catastrophe, and bad because it might happen tomorrow. But it’s good that nature rejects all prophets. 🙂
If NASA asks for funding they should actually avoid to mention any specific sunspot cycle, and just mmention that they want money to be able to make predictions. The way the’re doing this they undermine fund raising capability after 2013. 😉 I think actions should be taken in businesses — whether it happens in 500 years or in 1 years — to prevent losses from destroyed computer systems and extended times of failed power supply. Predictions — maybe impossible… — are good only if they enable us to prevent losses.
Is this similar to the meteorite problem? Not exactly. Sooner or later we start to take some actions against both threats. However, when the prevention from meteorites needs — like the development of fusion power… — tax funds, information on the problem with solar flares should be enough to encourage businesses to built in protection in their systems. Solutions for a fast recovery of energy supply — e.g. network solutions, as well as strategical cable storage — may be enabled by decisions in that business…

MA
June 18, 2010 2:37 am

If strong solar flares are also common during extended periods of low sunspot activity, isn’t our vulnerability also higher these periods when the heliosphere is smaller?

MA
June 18, 2010 2:43 am

Correction: Not a smaller heliosphere, but that Earth’s magnetic field is weaker… 😉

June 18, 2010 3:33 am

MA says:
June 18, 2010 at 2:23 am
NASA should say that they don’t have a clue when the large solar storm which hits populated areas on the Earth will occur, only that it may should occur at any century.
tallbloke, are you sure that Svalgaard said something like “a flare might be expected to hit Earth once every 150 years or so”?

My memory is far from perfect. Here is the exchange which made me think Leif said 150 years. In fact, Maksimovich said possibly a 1 in 200 year event, which Leif seemed to go along with, pointing out it could happen any time.
Leif Svalgaard says:
March 25, 2009 at 10:24 pm
Lee (21:53:00) :
That’s the diffusion issue, if it is spread thin enough to hit us, is it still thick enough to do any harm. So far, 100 years of electronics, minimal harm. Inverse square law can do a lot of thinning at 93 million miles.
Yes it can still do a lot of harm. On 13 March 1989, the voltage of Quebec’s power grid began to fluctuate alarmingly. Seconds later, the lights went out across the entire province. Some 6 million people were without electricity for nine hours. Within two days, NASA had lost track of some of its spacecraft and the northern lights were glowing in the sky south of London. As described in the 3 February 1996 issue of The New Scientist, these events had the same cause – a monumental Solar Storm, the fiercest for 30 years. The 1859 flare was many times stronger.
maksimovich (22:10:29) :
If SEP follow the Gleissberg cycle eg McCracken 2001b and they obey a power law due to the streaming limit,would not a Carrington event be a rare possibility ?(say a 1 in 200 year event)
Which can still happen anytime. And it was 150 years ago …

Frozen man
June 18, 2010 3:57 am

Well Nasa must need funds for solar study…
If you need them, as usual, make some scary scenarios
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmPSUMBrJoI&hl=es_ES&fs=1&]

anna v
June 18, 2010 4:41 am

We need cool heads and electrical engineers here.
The Carrington event took 18 hours to arrive on earth, instead of the usual 3 or 4 days ( according to wiki). This is plenty of time to give warning to turn off vulnerable electric equipment the world over.
If some electrical engineer puts some thoughts and numbers together easy to make Faraday cages for home equipment etc could be devised. I would think aluminum foil, but do not know the power and frequencies of the pulse arriving.
If the pulse coming is such that even inert circuits can become activated by it, like power lines, again an electrical engineer can design grounding points on the grid to deflect the power. This needs forethought, and should be incorporated in the design of power grids.
No need for panic.

June 18, 2010 4:47 am

tallbloke says:
June 18, 2010 at 3:33 am
“Which can still happen anytime. And it was 150 years ago …”
1859 was indeed some 150 years ago…
But that doesn’t mean that every 150 years we are hit by such a flare.

Ulric Lyons
June 18, 2010 5:31 am

There are a fair number of these events; http://www.solarstorms.org/SRefStorms.html that occur, one or two solar rotations after a critical alignment of inner planets, this could explain why apparently looking a month ahead from current conditions was outperforming Nelson`s (RCA) planetary ordered forecasts at times.
A good number though, are on well defined planetary alignments, including the superstorm of 1859, centered at early 29th August; http://www.fourmilab.ch/cgi-bin/Solar/action?sys=-Sf
Note the tight Saturn/Mars/Venus line, within hours of, at 160deg. away, Mercury/Earth/(and Ceres-not visible here) square to Uranus.
It would not be fair to say that 23yr monthly temperature anomaly string observable in CET, is a proxy for a half cycle of Mercury transits (46yr), as the months concerned can be seen to occur at Earth/Ceres syzygies, away from Mercury.
Ceres can also be seen to be causing strong uplifts in solar activity when in closer alignment with Mercury and Venus together, such as from 1st April 2010, and a slightly weaker one, mid November 2009, that caused the second main spate of floods last year.

June 18, 2010 5:42 am

Leif Svalgaard says:
June 18, 2010 at 4:47 am
tallbloke says:
June 18, 2010 at 3:33 am
“Which can still happen anytime. And it was 150 years ago …”
1859 was indeed some 150 years ago…
But that doesn’t mean that every 150 years we are hit by such a flare.

Thanks Leif, I think we established that.
In fact, Maksimovich said possibly a 1 in 200 year event, which Leif seemed to go along with, pointing out it could happen any time.
The sense of meaning I took away from this, was that you were implying that if Maksamovich’s once in 200 years was ballpark, we were 3/4 of the way through that period since the Carrington event, and anyway, and Earthbound event could occur anytime.
The Carrington event took place at the top of the upswing of a cycle which as you pointed out earlier, wasn’t a particularly high one, though I’d point out it was significantly higher than the cycles during the Dalton Minimum, and 60 years after it’s onset. The 1989 event also took place just at the top of the upswing of the cycle.
Still, we don’t have enough events on record to draw any conclusions.

Rik Gheysens
June 18, 2010 6:04 am

Thanks to this thread, I find two studies about solar storms:
– Ching-Cheh Hung, Apparent Relations Between Solar Activity And Solar Tides (…)
– James A. Marusek, Solar Storm Threat Analysis.
The lists of Great Solar Storms in both studies are very different.
Is it possible to acquire a reliable list of the largest solars storms since 1859? With this, it must be possible to investigate if the proposition of Ching-Cheh Hung is correct.
Perhaps a question to dr. Leif Svalgaard? Thanks!

Jean Meeus
June 18, 2010 6:04 am

“Ceres can also be seen to be causing strong uplifts in solar activity …”.
O, no!!! After the “influence” of the planets, now some asteroids too?
Please stop that astrological nonsense.

Garry
June 18, 2010 6:15 am

tallbloke says:
June 18, 2010 at 5:42 am
“Still, we don’t have enough events on record to draw any conclusions.”
Isn’t 150 years about 0.000000033 percent of the Sun’s 4,570,000,000 main sequence age?
Is that a large enough sample to speculate about “cyclical” solar events, beyond the idea that “it happens a lot.”

Spector
June 18, 2010 6:42 am

RE: anna v says: (June 18, 2010 at 4:41 am) “If some electrical engineer puts some thoughts and numbers together easy to make Faraday cages for home equipment etc could be devised. I would think aluminum foil, but do not know the power and frequencies of the pulse arriving.”
On Earth, I believe the primary problem is in the very low frequency band. As long as your main circuit breaker can handle the induced voltages, all you should have to do is pull the breaker to protect your home. I do not know, however, if it would make things better or worse for your power grid if everyone did this. I believe it should be the responsibility of your local power distributer to have an effective plan in place for notifying you of the appropriate action to take in the event of a Severe Geomagnetic Storm alert. I think the government should only be responsible for verifying that qualified plans are in place and providing general alert notifications.

June 18, 2010 6:52 am

tallbloke says:
June 18, 2010 at 5:42 am
The sense of meaning I took away from this, was that you were implying that if Maksamovich’s once in 200 years was ballpark, we were 3/4 of the way through that period since the Carrington event, and anyway, and Earthbound event could occur anytime.
Nobody in his right mind would say this. Events can happen at any time. It is meaningless to attach significance to “3/4 of the way”.
Still, we don’t have enough events on record to draw any conclusions.
We do have enough events to draw some conclusions, e.g. http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2008cosp…37.2956S
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2007SpWea…507004M
“It is shown that the >4 GeV fluence of large solar energetic particle events was a factor of 10 greater and the frequency of occurrence a factor of four greater prior to 1958 than during the space era. There were two events in 1946 and 1949 with >4 GeV fluences similar to that of 23 February 1956, suggesting that the >4 GeV fluence of the largest probable event for a similar period would be ~3 times greater. The historic cosmic ray and glaciological records indicate that the fluences and probability of occurrence of such large events at both high and low energies are greatest in periods of low long-term solar activity and anticorrelated with the estimated strength of the heliospheric magnetic field. […] It is proposed that the next Gleissberg minimum of solar activity will lead to a repetition of the pre-1958 era of high-frequency, high-fluence GLE and SEP events. […]”
Although this conclusion is tentative, the chance of strong events at any time remains high.

June 18, 2010 7:00 am

Rik Gheysens says:
June 18, 2010 at 6:04 am
Is it possible to acquire a reliable list of the largest solars storms since 1859? With this, it must be possible to investigate if the proposition of Ching-Cheh Hung is correct.
http://www.leif.org/research/1859%20Storm%20-%20Extreme%20Space%20Weather.pdf
The statistical base of Hung’s study is too weak to be useful. And there is no physical basis for any correlation of this type. One could argue that any planetary [or other astrological – Ceres, no less] influence should have even larger effects on the smaller flares of which we have thousands, but no such effect has been demonstrated.

Pamela Gray
June 18, 2010 7:47 am

Have there been any super duper “events” that went off the…er…um… back side? If so, are we not good for another 200 years? Or do these things, at this strength, happen more frequently, but only towards the Earth within a 200 year period or there abouts?

June 18, 2010 7:58 am

Jean Meeus says:
June 18, 2010 at 6:04 am
“Ceres can also be seen to be causing strong uplifts in solar activity …”.
O, no!!! After the “influence” of the planets, now some asteroids too?
Please stop that astrological nonsense.

I agree, some of this speculation is nonsensical, verging on snake oil salesman. But surely with your great knowledge you must acknowledge that the 4 gas giants do have some influence on the orbit pattern of the Sun around the SSB?

morgo
June 18, 2010 8:05 am

back to the crystal radio yaba daba doo

Editor
June 18, 2010 8:15 am

anna v says:
June 18, 2010 at 4:41 am

The Carrington event took 18 hours to arrive on earth, instead of the usual 3 or 4 days ( according to wiki). This is plenty of time to give warning to turn off vulnerable electric equipment the world over.
If some electrical engineer puts some thoughts and numbers together easy to make Faraday cages for home equipment etc could be devised. I would think aluminum foil, but do not know the power and frequencies of the pulse arriving.

I don’t think home electronics are at much of a risk, especially if they’re unplugged from the wall outlet.
It not a pulse per se, it’s more like a heavy rainstorm, building and waning until the cloud passes. Read some of the accounts of the Carrington event, telegraph operators had hours to experience and try various ways to deal with it.
The safest thing to do is to disconnect devices from long transmission lines and when congress hauls you before the inquisitors, err, energy committee, tell them you felt it prudent to shutdown the grid for a day instead having to rebuild it.

Ulric Lyons
June 18, 2010 8:18 am

@Jean Meeus says:
June 18, 2010 at 6:04 am
“O, no!!! After the “influence” of the planets, now some asteroids too?
Please stop that astrological nonsense.”
Fuss all you care to, it will not change the facts. This may all be too heretical for you, but who are you to comment so, on a subject you know nothing about. I can back my claims up with a wealth of evisence. There is no substance to your objection.

Ulric Lyons
June 18, 2010 8:30 am

Pamela Gray says:
June 18, 2010 at 7:47 am
Have there been any super duper “events” that went off the…er…um… back side?
1192 AD
http://history.eserver.org/aurora-of-1192.txt

June 18, 2010 8:48 am

Ulric Lyons says:
June 18, 2010 at 8:18 am
“Please stop that astrological nonsense.”
Fuss all you care to, it will not change the facts. This may all be too heretical for you, but who are you to comment so, on a subject you know nothing about. I can back my claims up with a wealth of evisence. There is no substance to your objection.

The problem with pseudo-‘scientists’/astrologers is not that they don’t know their subject, but that what they know just ain’t so [to quote Mark Twain].

Expat in France
June 18, 2010 9:11 am

Joe Bastardis European blog tends to put it all in perspective…
http://www.accuweather.com/ukie/bastardi-europe-blog.asp?partner=accuweather

Randy Westcott
June 18, 2010 9:43 am

LightRain says:
(About solar storm events)
So is it 150 years, we’re overdue; or 500 years and we have nothing to worry about?
——————————————————————————————————-
Who knows? In 2003 a monster missed Earth and also in 1909. Since the 1859 event, scientists have gotten good at measuring these matters and they have recorded many of these critters, only some of which affected us. And we have no idea about the ones not visible to us.
http://www.breadandbutterscience.com/SSTA.pdf
Our Sun appears unstable, active as in 1958, or dropping down to little activity as during the Maunder Minimum. Judging by what we know, we can be hit at any time. The effects range from hardly noticeable to potentially civilization-destroying, depending on several factors. You pays your money and you takes your chances. My sense is that our high tech, just-in-time civilization is vulnerable to a new Carrington Event or probably to any of the about half-dozen serious solar events since 1859.

June 18, 2010 9:52 am

Geoff Sharp says:
June 18, 2010 at 7:58 am
you must acknowledge that the 4 gas giants do have some influence on the orbit pattern of the Sun around the SSB?
But that movement has no influence on solar activity, so what is the relevance to the topic of this thread?
If two people walk down the street on opposite sides, their center of mass is somewhere between them in the middle of the street. If one of them speeds up, it will influence the ‘orbit’ of the other one around that center of mass [as the center of mass will shift], but that will have no influence on the other person, per se. The center of mass does not exert any forces on its own.

Ulric Lyons
June 18, 2010 11:21 am

@Leif Svalgaard says:
June 18, 2010 at 8:48 am
I would agree there is much pseudo science around in attemps to explain planetary influence on solar activity. The philosophy of many astrologers is that there is even no physical mechanism at play. You will not find it too easy to apply Twains “but that what they know just ain’t so” type of dismissal to my findings though.

June 18, 2010 11:36 am

Ulric Lyons says:
June 18, 2010 at 11:21 am
You will not find it too easy to apply Twains “but that what they know just ain’t so” type of dismissal to my findings though.
And why are your ‘findings’ any better than the rest? And who claims they are better [other than yourself]?

tallbloke
June 19, 2010 2:27 am

Ulric Lyons says:
June 18, 2010 at 8:30 am
1192 AD
http://history.eserver.org/aurora-of-1192.txt

Interesting and unusual read, thanks Ulric. Concidentally, I’ve just been in email convo on the subject of core motion with a retired Geophysics prof who was Richard Gross’ Phd mentor.

Queelius
June 19, 2010 2:49 am

All of this spit and venom, signifying nothing.
(Note: I’m not talking about NASA.)

June 19, 2010 4:04 am

Ulric Lyons says:
June 18, 2010 at 8:18 am

@Jean Meeus says:
June 18, 2010 at 6:04 am
“O, no!!! After the “influence” of the planets, now some asteroids too?
Please stop that astrological nonsense.”

Fuss all you care to, it will not change the facts. This may all be too heretical for you, but who are you to comment so, on a subject you know nothing about.

Oh dear. Do you have any idea who Jean Meeus is?

Spector
June 19, 2010 5:11 am

I see that most references to the Carrington Event seem to be omitting a very important parameter — the typical voltage such an event might induce at the Earth’s surface, usually measured in volts per meter. There is a big difference between an EM field that can induce several thousand volts per meter on any conducting body and one that only may induce several tens of volts per kilometer of extended wire. However, the hazard these rare events pose to our modern power grid is real.
It may be ironic that the people living deep in the jungles of Borneo would probably coast through such an event with no disruption of their daily routine while the modern world outside could well be descending into chaos.

anna v
June 19, 2010 6:24 am

Queelius says:
June 19, 2010 at 2:49 am

All of this spit and venom, signifying nothing.
(Note: I’m not talking about NASA.)

It signifies a lot.
Those of us that are scientists in the physical sciences should be grateful that Leif does not tire of stating the scientific pov when all these planetary alignment stuff comes up on these boards. I suppose if Leif were not a bit acerbic, he would have given up as most of us most of the time have, though if he does not pipe up, I feel obliged to hold the side up for science and pipe up myself.
There are very specific and stringent, sine qua non, requirements for a “theory” to be a scientific theory :
It should adhere to the dynamics developed by generations of scientists, ending with Einstein, and formulated into differential equations that we can use and solve, and be able to predict orbits, reactions, interactions.
It should not violate conservation numbers, i.e. the constants of motion are constants of motion for the “theory” under examination.
Conservation of energy, momentum, angular momentum, ( and some esoteric topological numbers too, which are outside my competence too) .
Galilean relativity, where the velocities with respect to the velocity of light are small.
etc.
These planetary theories, coming from the times when astrology and astronomy were all mixed up together, fail on the conservation of energy, primarily, and conservation of momentum and angular momentum when they try to use the barycenter as a real fulcrum of the forces acting on the planetary system.
1)There is not enough energy to be gravitationally exchanged ( gravitational energy available from the planets is very small and appears in the tides, which are tiny on the sun, and tinier on the earth).
2) Gravity is a manifestation of mass, and the barycenter has 0 mass. It can affect nothing.
3)If one tried to formulate the forces in the barycentric system ( it is a legitimate Galilean system, as the epicycle system, see below) very complicated formulae would be needed. Simplicity is the hallmark of real science.
Let me give an example from the theory of epicycles. It is wrongly assumed that the epicycles are wrong. A fallacy. If one calculates the orbits of the planets in a geocentric system the epicycles appear in all their glory. Does it have a meaning to start using this system to derive the motion of the sun? It is a very legitimate Galilean system but is rejected because its mathematical formulation is far removed from the mathematical formulation of the forces acting by the heavenly bodies; very complicated mathematical formulae would be needed to express gravitational forces in this coordinate system. That is why the heliocentric system, once envisaged, became dominant. The forces have a simple natural formulation in this system.
Let me repeat, within the formidable construct of modern mathematics/physics/astronomy that has been established, a graduate course has to be followed by a student in order to assimilate and be able to use the theory for new manifestations, planetary and barycentric influences are “pseudo science”.
So, as this board is followed by many scientists , I am grateful that Leif has undertaken the role of watchdog-reviewer for the science appearing here in the comments.
And I have not entered on the subject of coincidences in independent chaotic systems fooling people that correlations exist when they are either fortuitous clock synchronizations, or simply fortuitous.

June 19, 2010 6:33 am

Carsten Arnholm, Norway says:
June 19, 2010 at 4:04 am
Oh dear. Do you have any idea who Jean Meeus is?

Carsten, with respect, while Jan Meeus is an expert on astronomical motion, I doubt he has studied the subject matter Ulric is covering. Making appeals to authority is passe. Look at the data and try to find out whether there is something worth further investigation yourself.

June 19, 2010 6:47 am

Just to remind everyone that astrology is about consciousness, not physics. It is not within the realm of scientific analysis – not because there are no correlations – Gauquelin showed several, but these are relatively crude and not useful. The practice of astrological analysis works with the symbolic language of number and harmonic and is far too complex for experimental science to grapple with. Most physical scientists have very little comprehension of astrology – as modern science separates the realm of consciousness from the physical – a separation that would not have been accepted by Galileo, Kepler or Newton, all of whom looked at the world as a whole.
Incidentally, the six founding father of the Royal Society, led by Elias Ashmole, were all students of the inner world of consciousness – using alchemy and astrology – the former being a coded programme of enquiry disguised as chemistry so that its practitioners could avoid the potentially fatal attentions of the inquisitor.
Modern science actually started out as a ‘magician’s trick’ – setting up an outer temple of ‘objective’ enquiry, but maintaining an inner temple of esoteric thought – which is still present and well under cover.
A modern student of science would do well to dwell on a few facts of physics: at the quantum level of explanation, other dimensions are invoked in which time and space do not obey the same rules; ‘particles’ come in an out of (this) reality; and no instruments – by definition, can explore the sub-quantum field.
So – we should beware and accept that there are forces at work that may operate in another dimension of this reality and that our understanding of such forces is very limited. The potential for apparently weak magnetic fields and electrical currents as feedback from planets into the sun may appear of little interest because of the very tiny energies involved – but are not the inter-planetary fields of the solar system also very small, yet they affect the flow of cosmic rays and plasma? I do not think there has been an exhaustive analysis of solar cycles in relation to planetary cycles – which are very complex – but that is still not ‘astrology’ – which is about consciousness itself.
Astrology is however, relevant to the debate on mega-flares. Any such major event that disrupted planetary grids (and I have read the NAS report to Congress – it makes sober reading – it could take years not months to repair the grid, and they consider that millions of Americans would be at risk of starvation), would also impact upon human consciousness – like a wake-up call above all others. Ask any astrologer what they expect to see this summer…….a major wake-up call in relation to security, structure and consciousness….all well before 2013. So – this summer (through to late autumn) will be a good test of astrology. The giant planets Uranus and Jupiter align opposite Saturn, with Pluto at right-angles and Neptune about 30 degrees away from Uranus. These rare oppositions were the subject of Landscheidt’s calculations. He dealt with them purely within the Newtonian realm of celestial mechanics. He was also an astrologer, but he kept the two entirely separate.
So – this summer will also provide a test of Landscheidt’s thesis – which suffered somewhat from not predicting the latest El Nino, but was spot on for the potential Dalton/Maunder Minimum (excuse the pun).
Incidently, I had some correspondence with an astrophysicist who worked on the way magnetic field transfers the energy of angular momentum to early forming star discs. Leif – I wonder, the centre of mass may have no ‘power’ to influence things, but it might act as a proxy for some other forces operating…….? After all – the planets behave like objects being spun around on the end of ropes – they don’t fly off into space, yet the ropes are invisible! Science does not know how the energy is transferred along the invisible rope and even the mathematicians who delve into this last great mystery, have to invoke eleven further dimensions!

June 19, 2010 7:02 am

tallbloke says:
June 19, 2010 at 6:33 am
while Jan Meeus is an expert on astronomical motion, I doubt he has studied the subject matter Ulric is covering.
That subject matter falls in the category of extensive knowledge of things that ain’t so.
Making appeals to authority is passe.
But making appeals to knowledge of physics and modern science is not passé.

June 19, 2010 7:10 am

anna v says:
June 19, 2010 at 6:24 am
These planetary theories, coming from the times when astrology and astronomy were all mixed up together, fail on the conservation of energy, primarily, and conservation of momentum and angular momentum when they try to use the barycenter as a real fulcrum of the forces acting on the planetary system.

Once again you completely ignore the force which is billions of times stronger than gravity. We are not ignorant of the laws of physics, nor do we compartmentalize some of them and marginalize others. For example, the solar motion WRT the barycentre of the solar system is simply a useful proxy for the combined planetary motion we can use to get some clues as to the timings of the manifestations of some electromagnetic forces as well as gravitational ones. Ulric’s concentration on specific alignments of planets makes sense when viewed from this perspective. It is pursuing a level of detail beyond the generalized picture consideration of barycentric motion offers.
Not yet being certain of underlying causes isn’t an impediment to discovering coincident phenomena, which can be tested for statistical significance in relation to empirical data on the assumption of common underlying causes. It is speculative at this stage, and we make no apologies for that. Nor should we need to, in discourse with open minded people.
The approach taken by the mainstream astrophysicists is only one among several worthy of investigation. It’s good that Leif and you concentrate on the further extension of known principles and methods within your expertise. It’s bad that you denigrate and smear others who are aware that there are other approaches worth pursuing. The aim would be to re-unite the different approaches on common ground further down the line when further discoveries are made, ideas empirically tested, results are in and have been integrated into an actual ‘proper theory’.
What you and Leif call ‘pseudo science’ is yielding interesting results and is progressing rapidly beyond the Flintstones universe you prefer to inhabit.

Ulric Lyons
June 19, 2010 7:26 am

@Carsten Arnholm, Norway says:
June 19, 2010 at 4:04 am
“Oh dear. Do you have any idea who Jean Meeus is?”
Yes, and with a well predictable response from an astronomer of these times. I would expect though, a more favourable reaction from a progressive thinking astronomer, such as David Whitehouse. Is not Meeus aware that Kepler, Gallileo, Copernicus, Tycho and Newton all practised planetary weather astrology? Who is he to decide it is bunkum eh? Like I said, he has not studied the subject, so he is in no position to make fair comment.

June 19, 2010 7:37 am

Peter Taylor says:
June 19, 2010 at 6:47 am
I had some correspondence with an astrophysicist who worked on the way magnetic field transfers the energy of angular momentum to early forming star discs. Leif – I wonder, the centre of mass may have no ‘power’ to influence things, but it might act as a proxy for some other forces operating…….?
The magnetic field was indeed the medium that shifted angular momentum from the Sun to the planets when they were formed. This was possible because the solar wind was much stronger back then.
I don’t think Astrology is about consciousness, but rather the belief that the mere positions of heavenly bodies have effects beyond ordinary physical causes, e.g. causing solar cycles or your finances or your health [check your newspaper’s horoscope to see what’s in store for you today]. I would think that if this were so, the sun would cycle even if there were no conscious beings around, e.g. 100 million years ago.
Appeal to ‘other forces’ we know nothing about etc is not science.

Ulric Lyons
June 19, 2010 7:41 am

@Leif Svalgaard says:
June 19, 2010 at 7:02 am
“That subject matter falls in the category of extensive knowledge of things that ain’t so.”
Climbing on mirrors again Leif.
I would be very happy to put a large sum of money on it being `just so`.

Ulric Lyons
June 19, 2010 7:48 am

@Geoff Sharp says:
June 18, 2010 at 7:58 a
“I agree, some of this speculation is nonsensical, verging on snake oil salesman.”
It is not speculation, it is pure observation, very much unlike your own work.

anna v
June 19, 2010 7:59 am

Peter Taylor says:
June 19, 2010 at 6:47 am
Science does not know how the energy is transferred along the invisible rope and even the mathematicians who delve into this last great mystery, have to invoke eleven further dimensions!
I had a high school teacher, and he drew a circle on the blackboard.
He was not a very good teacher, as teachers go, but this has remained with me:
Knowledge is the inside of the circle, and we increase it and the radius grows. The larger the radius the greater the periphery of our contact with the unknown.
He was talking of Socrates: I know one thing, that I know nothing.
Nevertheless, the conquest within the circle, what we now know is not thrown out as the radius of our known science increases. It may be reinterpreted, reformulated in new formalisms, but it is a conquest in the exploration that is not lost.
The 11 dimensions of string theories do not negate the 4 dimensions of relativity, nor do the four dimensions of special relativity negate the three dimensions plus time of ordinary mechanics. Like russian dolls one fits inside the other, or the other encompasses the previous, according to the pov.
And in all these expansions nobody will be negating the constants of motion, which is what planetary/barycentric theories do.
Now about apparent correlations. Some of them, to a simple physicist, look forced and fortuitous. In chaotic systems, which the planetary system is, and the sun internal cycles is, there will be periodicities, and periodicities can have fortuitous coincident time series.
Let us suppose that we do find very good correlations between, for example, sunspot activity and planetary time tables. Rather than throwing away conservation of energy and momentum, working within my circle of knowledge, I will invoke synchronicities of these large clocks, similar to the one established that makes the moon face the earth .
See also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1TMZASCR-I&feature=related
Over the millions of years, it may be that there are modulations imprinted from one gravitational clock to the other, by the tiny energies involved accumulating over time. The same about earth and weather.
Now consciousness is not within the realm of physics, at the moment, though I know physicists who try to formulate theories of consciousness. If they succeed the knowledge within the circle will enlarge, but not be thrown away.

June 19, 2010 8:06 am

Ulric Lyons says:
June 19, 2010 at 7:26 am
Is not Meeus aware that Kepler, Gallileo, Copernicus, Tycho and Newton all practised planetary weather astrology? Who is he to decide it is bunkum eh?
I think this accurately sums up what Sagan warned about in the “Demon-Hunted World”.

Ulric Lyons
June 19, 2010 8:18 am

Yesterday, I brought up the subject of heliocentric alignments involving Ceres, knowing well that it would cause some sparks! Very aptly, I also listened on BBC Radio 4, the story of Gauss and his development of Gaussian distribution, through the various different measurements that had been made of the positions of Ceres.
This morning, we had a heliocentric conjunction of Earth and Ceres, accompanied by new new region 1083 (positioned directly towards the alignment), and a CME within hours of said alignment.
The only possible cause of the 23yr monthly temperature anomaly strings in CET, is this alignment. I can also show heliocentric Ceres alignments with Mercury and Venus, that repeatedly give monthly temperature anomalies over hundreds of years.

Ulric Lyons
June 19, 2010 8:27 am

@anna v says:
June 19, 2010 at 7:59 am
“In chaotic systems, which the planetary system is,”
All my reasoning tells that the planets should tend towards a well harmonised order.
The actual intergers concerned in orbital ratios within our solar system, are highly interesting and very `Pythagorean`, and I suggest are very likely to be found in other planet systems around other stars.

June 19, 2010 8:42 am

Hush Ulric, don’t confront the demon hunters (sic) with empirical evidence of planetary/solar electromagnetic interactions. It’ll only make their hackles stand on end while their feet are planted firmly in the clay. The uninquisitive inquisition will sentence you to a good stoning. They’ll probably want to use apples in reverence of their great prophet Newton. 😉

June 19, 2010 9:11 am

anna v says:
June 19, 2010 at 7:59 am
Let us suppose that we do find very good correlations between, for example, sunspot activity and planetary time tables.

Who is this royal “we” Anna? You and Leif already decided you’d rather remain ignorant of them, as they are “just coincidence”.
The amalgamated union of planetary-solar pseudo-science astrologers, cranks and ne’er do wells are the ones putting in the effort here, while you and Leif stand on the sidelines telling us we are wasting our time.

Spector
June 19, 2010 9:24 am

RE: pgosselin says: (June 19, 2010 at 6:01 am) “This may interest some people here – from a Russian scientist. [Link: top russian scientist says theres no scientific basis for 2013 solar devastation prediction]”
I suspect that an examination of the NASA statement would reveal that they are not making a prediction but making a statement about elevated probabilities of a rather improbable event. The 500-year average interval between events of this magnitude is equivalent to about a 99.8 percent chance that it will *not* happen on any given year if we do not know the state of the sun. If we know that these events only happen at solar maxima, (that occur once every 11 years) then we raise 0.998 to the 11th power to determine the probability that it will *not* happen during any given solar maximum. You may also use this method to determine the probability that it will not happen during your remaining expected lifetime.

Ulric Lyons
June 19, 2010 9:33 am

@ Leif Svalgaard says:
June 19, 2010 at 8:06 am
Ulric Lyons says:
June 19, 2010 at 7:26 am
Is not Meeus aware that Kepler, Gallileo, Copernicus, Tycho and Newton all practised planetary weather astrology? Who is he to decide it is bunkum eh?
“I think this accurately sums up what Sagan warned about in the “Demon-Hunted World”.”
Yes, I did notice that you firmly make up your mind before you have the evidence at hand, and that is not scientific practise, it is prejudice.

anna v
June 19, 2010 9:37 am

tallbloke says:
June 19, 2010 at 7:10 am
anna v says:
June 19, 2010 at 6:24 am
I had said”
“These planetary theories, coming from the times when astrology and astronomy were all mixed up together, fail on the conservation of energy, primarily, and conservation of momentum and angular momentum when they try to use the barycenter as a real fulcrum of the forces acting on the planetary system.”
Once again you completely ignore the force which is billions of times stronger than gravity.
Force is not a conserved quantity. It is not a constant of motion.
Energy is.
Momentum is.
Angular momentum is.
The relative strength of forces is meaningless unless the energy involved is known.
Can I pick up a ton of iron with a natural magnet of 1cm^2?
Why not? the magnetic force constant is many zeros larger than the gravitational force constant holding that ton on the surface.
These billions you throw around have no meaning outside solutions of equations.

June 19, 2010 9:53 am

Leif Svalgaard says:
June 19, 2010 at 7:37 am
I don’t think Astrology is about consciousness, but rather the belief that the mere positions of heavenly bodies have effects beyond ordinary physical causes, e.g. causing solar cycles or your finances or your health [check your newspaper’s horoscope to see what’s in store for you today]. I would think that if this were so, the sun would cycle even if there were no conscious beings around, e.g. 100 million years ago.
Appeal to ‘other forces’ we know nothing about etc is not science.

This is mostly fine as far as it goes, but your conflation of what some people here are doing with the help of the NASA/JPL ephemeris and newsaper horoscopes is a deliberately calculated slur, and it diminishes my generally good opinion of you, because I know you know better.
We are not making appeals to ‘other forces’. We are postulating the possibility that science doesn’t yet fully appreciate the effectiveness of the ones we already know about.

June 19, 2010 10:03 am

tallbloke says:
June 19, 2010 at 9:11 am
The amalgamated union of planetary-solar pseudo-science astrologers, cranks and ne’er do wells are the ones putting in the effort here, while you and Leif stand on the sidelines telling us we are wasting our time.
The ‘effort’ has a certain entertainment value, and as people often seek entertainment [which is a pleasant way to waste time] the waste of time may be justified on that ground alone. People also laugh at Bozo, the Clown.

June 19, 2010 10:19 am

tallbloke says:
June 19, 2010 at 9:53 am
but your conflation of what some people here are doing with the help of the NASA/JPL ephemeris and newsaper horoscopes is a deliberately calculated slur
Go tell Ulrich that, and keep in mind that my comment was about Astrology being about consciousness.
We are not making appeals to ‘other forces’.
A royal ‘we’?
We are postulating the possibility that science doesn’t yet fully appreciate the effectiveness of the ones we already know about.
My comment was in response to
Peter Taylor says:
June 19, 2010 at 6:47 am
“I wonder, the centre of mass may have no ‘power’ to influence things, but it might act as a proxy for some other forces operating…….? ”
Apparently, he is is not included in your royal ‘we’. Perhaps he is not a member of the esteemed “amalgamated union of planetary-solar pseudo-science astrologers, cranks and ne’er do wells” that you claim to belong to.
The forces we know about all have a firm empirical foundation. We know their ranges and strengths, and how matter reacts to force [Maxwell’s and Newton’s laws – at the scale of the Sun]. Postulates without specific evidence are just that: ‘postulates’. You could also postulate that the World was created last Tuesday [there are takers for that one, BTW]

June 19, 2010 10:25 am

Ulric Lyons says:
June 19, 2010 at 9:33 am
that is not scientific practise, it is prejudice.
Scientists have a very strong prejudice when it comes to science, namely that things must make sense and be verifiable, and that one should not keep a mind so open, that the brain has fallen out.

June 19, 2010 10:38 am

anna v says:
June 19, 2010 at 9:37 am
Can I pick up a ton of iron with a natural magnet of 1cm^2?

No, but I can pick up a paper clip from some distance above with that 1cm^2 magnet, while the gravitational effort of the 8000 mile diameter Earth is trying to keep it on the ground.

June 19, 2010 10:44 am

Leif Svalgaard says:
June 19, 2010 at 10:19 am
My comment was in response to
Peter Taylor says:
June 19, 2010 at 6:47 am
“I wonder, the centre of mass may have no ‘power’ to influence things, but it might act as a proxy for some other forces operating…….? ”
Apparently, he is is not included in your royal ‘we’.

You can’t conclude that Peter Taylor meant ‘forces other than those known to current physics’ from his statement. You are projecting your prejudice. I suggest you google some of his other contributions to this blog, a more level headed and well informed man you couldn’t hope to meet.

June 19, 2010 11:00 am

Leif Svalgaard says:
June 19, 2010 at 10:03 am
The ‘effort’ has a certain entertainment value, and as people often seek entertainment [which is a pleasant way to waste time] the waste of time may be justified on that ground alone. People also laugh at Bozo, the Clown.

Always happy to make you smile Leif. :o)
I recognise great value in having you ‘serious if a little staid’ scientists on hand to push us to be rigorous about our work.

Ulric Lyons
June 19, 2010 11:02 am

@ Leif Svalgaard says:
June 19, 2010 at 10:03 am
“People also laugh at Bozo, the Clown.”
By all means laugh, mock, and even engage in agressive opposition. The more you do so, the bigger laugh we get, when what is self evident has to be accepted.

June 19, 2010 11:11 am

tallbloke says:
June 19, 2010 at 10:44 am
You can’t conclude that Peter Taylor meant ‘forces other than those known to current physics’ from his statement.
Well, perhaps Peter could tell us which other forces he meant.
And which other forces do you think there are?
Or which ones of the ones we know, do you think are involved?

June 19, 2010 11:16 am

tallbloke says:
June 19, 2010 at 11:00 am
I recognise great value in having you ‘serious if a little staid’ scientists on hand to push us to be rigorous about our work.
Unfortunately, it has little effect. If anything, the royal ‘us’ are getting less rigorous with time as the “The amalgamated union of planetary-solar pseudo-science astrologers, cranks and ne’er do wells” is expanding its membership.

Ulric Lyons
June 19, 2010 11:16 am

@Leif Svalgaard says:
June 19, 2010 at 10:25 am
“Scientists have a very strong prejudice”
Speak for yourself, not others. Your solar theory is highly deficient in many respects.
If you had a very open mind, I am not too sure there would much that could fall out.
[Please, let’s not get too insulting. ~dbs]

June 19, 2010 11:21 am

Ulric Lyons says:
June 19, 2010 at 11:16 am
[Please, let’s not get too insulting. ~dbs]
I think we have moved so far from the science that the insults are the only things left with redeeming value. Let’s see how low they can go…

June 19, 2010 11:21 am

Leif Svalgaard says:
June 19, 2010 at 10:19 am
The forces we know about all have a firm empirical foundation. We know their ranges and strengths, and how matter reacts to force

This reminds me of the C18th physics experts who said they could prove that air pressure would crush the rib-cages of train passengers above 35mph. The idea that we already know enough to be able to rule out unexpectedly high resonant feedbacks from electro-magnetic activity in the interplanetary electro-magnetic soup is more laughable than Bozo’s best slapstick efforts.

June 19, 2010 11:36 am

tallbloke says:
June 19, 2010 at 11:21 am
The idea that we already know enough to be able to rule out unexpectedly high resonant feedbacks from electro-magnetic activity in the interplanetary electro-magnetic soup is more laughable than Bozo’s best slapstick efforts.
And here is where you show yourself to be just another pseudo-scientist. We go with what we know [or reasonably surmise]. Everything else is not science.

June 19, 2010 12:00 pm

“And here is where you show yourself to be just another pseudo-scientist. We go with what we know [or reasonably surmise]. Everything else is not science.”
We don’t know what we know well enough to make a priori judgements about excluding alternative possibilities. It’s claiming certainty where it’s not justified by the state of knowledge as it currently stands.
It’s an attempt to exclude other interpretations and ideas, and it has no scientific value. It serves only to impede scientific progress in a vain attempt to preserve the status quo.
You’ve told us you want to get entertainment by seeing how low you can go with insults.
Have fun.

anna v
June 19, 2010 12:01 pm

tallbloke says:
June 19, 2010 at 10:38 am
“anna v says:
June 19, 2010 at 9:37 am
Can I pick up a ton of iron with a natural magnet of 1cm^2?”
No, but I can pick up a paper clip from some distance above with that 1cm^2 magnet, while the gravitational effort of the 8000 mile diameter Earth is trying to keep it on the ground.

Do you understand that what you have done is picking a particular solution of the equations involved? As also I did with the ton of iron?
So the relative strength of the four known forces is useful in the specific solution with given boundary conditions, but is not global to the problem.
Constants of motion are global to the problem. One does not have to solve the equations to know whether energy conservation is violated. One just needs to do the energy balance and the answer is clear.
If there is not enough energy in the interplanetary electric/magnetic fields, and from measurements there is not, it does no good to say the electric force constant is billions of times stronger than the gravitational force constant. The problem is not of one electron moving another electron electromagnetically or gravitationally . It is of whether there is enough energy in the planetary electromagnetic fields to manifest what you think you are manifesting, massive effects on the sun.

Ulric Lyons
June 19, 2010 12:01 pm

@ Leif Svalgaard says:
June 19, 2010 at 11:21 am
“I think we have moved so far from the science that the insults are the only things left with redeeming value. Let’s see how low they can go…”
Insults are all you have ever given with any planetary theory of solar activity and climate, you seem to not to able to control youself. I do understand that it a threat to your reality map, but that is just hard cheese.
I suggest you refrain from your snidey comments, and then we do not have to see how low the insults can go.
I can accept that you may have no belief in planetary influence, that is very common in the orthodox community, but do not please go pushing your attitude around in such an insulting manner, particularly when you have not actually seen the all the evidence, to repeat, this is pure prejudice and not scientific method.

June 19, 2010 12:14 pm

tallbloke says:
You’ve told us you want to get entertainment by seeing how low you can go with insults.
Ulric Lyons says:
June 19, 2010 at 12:01 pm
then we do not have to see how low the insults can go.
As I said, the science has gone out of it, only insults left. Keep’em coming. Good value for the money.

June 19, 2010 12:20 pm

anna v says:
June 19, 2010 at 12:01 pm
The problem is not of one electron moving another electron electromagnetically or gravitationally . It is of whether there is enough energy in the planetary electromagnetic fields to manifest what you think you are manifesting, massive effects on the sun.

Perhaps this is where the misunderstanding between us arises Anna. It is not necessarily the case that huge amounts of energy need to pass from the planets to the sun to trigger effects on a huge energy matrix which is close to locally flip-flopping over boundary conditions anyway.
I’m not claiming that this is how it is, I’m just entertaining the possibility as one among many others.

June 19, 2010 1:01 pm

Taking that thought a little further, maybe its not that energy has to pass from the planets to the sun at all, but the lowered solar surface temperature at the location of sunspots (the reason they appear as dark spots in contrast to their surroundings) is due to some of the energy from those locations going into the reconnecting of field lines with the magnetospheres of the planets. Which might explain the correlations Ching Che Hung found between large magnitude solar flares and the planets being overhead of their location at the time too.

June 19, 2010 1:03 pm

tallbloke says:
June 19, 2010 at 12:20 pm
It is not necessarily the case that huge amounts of energy need to pass from the planets to the sun to trigger effects on a huge energy matrix which is close to locally flip-flopping over boundary conditions anyway.
1) because of the outwards flowing solar wind electric and magnetic energy does not [cannot] flow from the planets to the Sun.
2) the Sun is not a huge ‘energy matrix’ that is easy to disturb.
You should only consider possibilities that are energetically feasible. The argument that there are unknown forces or unknown sides of known forces at play, is not valid science without evidence.

June 19, 2010 1:15 pm

Leif, looks like I was just in time to pre-empt your objection. 🙂

June 19, 2010 1:43 pm

tallbloke says:
June 19, 2010 at 1:01 pm
due to some of the energy from those locations going into the reconnecting of field lines with the magnetospheres of the planets.
The sunspots are cooler because their magnetic field in the photosphere cools the plasma locally, so the cooler temperature is a consequence of the magnetic. The magnetic field in the corona and solar wind is not influence by any of this, and the reconnection with the planetary magnetospheres equally not, and there is no backward reaction. It is like firing a rifle: when the bullet hits its target, it is stopped, but that does not knock the rifleman down firing the shot.
In this age where our civilization is so dependent on science, pseudo-science is a dangerous activity as it helps lower the public’s understanding of our environment potentially leading to disastrous political decisions [E.g. Lysenkoism or AGW].

June 19, 2010 1:57 pm

Leif Svalgaard says:
June 19, 2010 at 1:43 pm
there is no backward reaction. It is like firing a rifle: when the bullet hits its target, it is stopped, but that does not knock the rifleman down firing the shot.

If you’ve ever fired a rifle, you’ll know what ‘recoil’ is. The release of chemical energy causing an explosive expa