On 99 year anniversary of huge disruptive solar storm, we are about to enter the deepest period of solar “recession” ever recorded

By Dr. Tony Phillips

99 years ago this week, people around the world woke up to some unusual headlines.

“Telegraph Service Prostrated, Comet Not to Blame” — declared the Los Angeles Times on May 15, 1921. “Electrical Disturbance is ‘Worst Ever Known’” — reported the Chicago Daily Tribune. “Sunspot credited with Rail Tie-up” — deadpanned the New York Times.

They didn’t know it at the time, but the newspapers were covering the biggest solar storm of the 20th Century. Nothing quite like it has happened since.

It began on May 12, 1921 when giant sunspot AR1842, crossing the sun during the declining phase of Solar Cycle 15, began to flare. One explosion after another hurled coronal mass ejections (CMEs) directly toward Earth. For the next 3 days, CMEs rocked Earth’s magnetic field. Scientists around the world were surprised when their magnetometers suddenly went offscale, pens in strip chart recorders pegged uselessly to the top of the paper.

Then the fires began. Around 02:00 GMT on May 15th, a telegraph exchange in Sweden burst into flames. About an hour later, the same thing happened across the Atlantic in the village of Brewster, New York. Flames engulfed the switch-board at the Brewster station of the Central New England Railroad and quickly spread to destroy the whole building. That fire, along with another one about the same time in a railroad control tower near New York City’s Grand Central Station, is why the event is sometimes referred to as the “New York Railroad Superstorm.”

What caused the fires? Electrical currents induced by geomagnetic activity surged through telephone and telegraph lines, heating them to the point of combustion. Strong currents disrupted telegraph systems in Australia, Brazil, Denmark, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, the UK and USA. The Ottawa Journal reported that many long-distance telephone lines in New Brunswick were burned out by the storm. On some telegraph lines in the USA voltages spiked as high as 1000 V.

Above: Sunspot AR1842 on May 13, 1921. [more]

During the storm’s peak on May 15th, southern cities like Los Angeles and Atlanta felt like Fairbanks, with Northern Lights dancing overhead while telegraph lines crackled with geomagnetic currents. Auroras were seen in the USA as far south as Texas while, in the Pacific, red auroras were sighted from Samoa and Tonga and ships at sea crossing the equator.

What would happen if such a storm occurred today?

Researchers have long grappled with that question–most recently in a pair of in-depth papers published in the journal Space Weather: “The Great Storm of May 1921: An Exemplar of a Dangerous Space Weather Event” by Mike Hapgood (Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK) and “Intensity and Impact of the New York Railroad Superstorm of May 1921” by Jeffrey Love (US Geological Survey) and colleagues.

The summary, above, is largely a result of Hapgood’s work. He painstakingly searched historical records including scientific journals, newspaper clippings, and other reports to create a moment-by-moment timeline of the storm. Such timelines are invaluable to emergency planners, who can use them to prepare for future storms.

Above: Aurora sightings in May 1921. The leftmost red circle marks Apia, Samoa.

Jeffrey Love and colleagues also looked into the past and–jackpot!–they found some old magnetic chart recordings that did not go offscale when the May 1921 CMEs hit. Using the data, they calculated “Dst” (disturbance storm time index), a measure of geomagnetic activity favored by many space weather researchers.

“The storm attained an estimated maximum −Dst on 15 May of 907 ± 132 nT, an intensity comparable to that of the Carrington Event of 1859,” they wrote in their paper.

This dry-sounding result upends conventional wisdom. Students of space weather have long been taught that the Carrington Event (-Dst = 900 nT) was the strongest solar storm in recorded history. Now we know that the May 1921 storm was about equally intense.

If the May 1921 storm hit today, “I’d expect it to lead to most, if not all, of the impacts outlined in the 2013 Royal Academy of Engineering report led by Paul Cannon,” says Hapgood. “This could include regional power outages, profound changes to satellite orbits, and loss of radio-based technologies such as GPS. The disruption of GPS could significantly impact logistics and emergency services.”

It’s something to think about on the 99th anniversary of a 100-year storm….

An expanded and sharable version of this story is available here.

Addendum by Anthony:

In a story by the New York Post titled: “The sun has entered a ‘lockdown’ period, which could cause freezing weather, famine” Dr. Phillips says:

Experts believe we are about to enter the deepest period of sunshine “recession” ever recorded as sunspots have virtually disappeared.

Astronomer Dr. Tony Phillips said:

“Solar Minimum is underway and it’s a deep one.”

“Sunspot counts suggest it is one of the deepest of the past century. The sun’s magnetic field has become weak, allowing extra cosmic rays into the solar system.”

“Excess cosmic rays pose a health hazard to astronauts and polar air travelers, affect the electro-chemistry of Earth’s upper atmosphere and may help trigger lightning.”

I’d like to point out the headline “The sun has entered a ‘lockdown’ period, which could cause freezing weather, famine

That headline is an NY Post extrapolation of low sunspot numbers. The scientist, Phillips, didn’t say that.

The cold Maunder Minimum, where this claim originates, was also accompanied by huge amounts of high altitude aerosols from the eruption of Mt. Tambora in 1815. It is likely the cause of the “year without a summer” not the lack of sunspots.

False color image of Mount Tambora, taken from the Space Shuttle Endeavour on 13 May 1992 (for orientation, the top of the image is towards the East)

We must be true to the science, even if it does not support the claims we
think are true. However, the [increased] number of cosmic rays will be a good test of Svensmark’s theory that the sun’s magnetic field modulates galactic cosmic rays, and more cosmic rays create more atmospheric clod seeds in Earths atmosphere, thus increasing cloud cover and cooling the planet.

Of course with adjustments de jour being the current mission of climate scientists that are the gatekeepers of the surface data, we may never know for sure.

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May 15, 2020 11:12 am

“However, the decreased number of cosmic rays will be a good test of Svensmark’s theory …”

Isn’t it “increased number of cosmic rays” ?

Phil Rae
Reply to  Petit_Barde
May 15, 2020 11:28 am

Indeed it is!

Reply to  Petit_Barde
May 15, 2020 11:34 am

Yes, you are right.
And Svensmark’s theory has already been shown not to work: The past several cycles have had increasing cosmic rays which should have led to cooling, but warming has been observed instead.
One way to ‘save’ the idea is to claim that the data has been manipulated. This will be increasingly be the view of defenders of the ‘theory’. Just watch this space.
Here is more on extreme events:

Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
May 15, 2020 12:26 pm

Tehre are too many variables at stake to falsify or confirm the theory with just a parameter (temperatures).

Nevertheless, the CLOUD experiment (https://home.cern/fr/science/experiments/cloud)
actually confirmed the impact of (at least artificial) cosmic rays on aerosol growth enhancing cloud formation :

“In its 10 years of operation, CLOUD has made several important discoveries on the vapours that form aerosol particles in the atmosphere and can seed clouds. Although most aerosol particle formation requires sulphuric acid, CLOUD has shown that aerosols can form purely from biogenic vapours emitted by trees, and that their formation rate is enhanced by cosmic rays by up to a factor 100.”

A new run of the CLOUD experiment examines the effect of natural cosmic rays on clouds :

Reply to  Petit_Barde
May 15, 2020 2:08 pm

There are too many variables at stake to falsify or confirm the theory with just a parameter (temperatures).
When Svensmark proposed his ‘theory’ he used only temperature as supporting data…
The very notion of ‘global warming’ seems to be temperature based. Perhaps a better moniker would have been ‘global confusion’. That one would be rather immune to criticism…

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
May 15, 2020 8:50 pm

Svensmark’s theory is in two parts: it predicts a change in cloud cover and assumes that such a change will cool the planet. However any effect on temperature is speculative, not so?

Rather than wonder about temperature effects (which have many contributing variables) how about we judge his prediction based on the claimed mechanism and direct effect: that an increase in CR and GCR leads to an increase of total cloud cover?

If an increase in cloud cover does not lead to a change in measured global temperature, we can engage in additional exploration to find out why it doesn’t.

Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
May 15, 2020 9:41 pm

The very notion of ‘global warming’ seems to be temperature based.

… which is exactly the problem the alamists faced from 2000 AD onwards when the late 20th c. rise failed to fulfil their claims and they had to morph to “climate change” then “climate weirding” and other such stupidity to maintain their pseudo-scientific rhetoric.

Reply to  Petit_Barde
May 15, 2020 4:56 pm

A new run of the CLOUD experiment examines the effect of natural cosmic rays on clouds :

Thanks for the update!

I thought they had buried this arc of research completely. Good to know it is still investigated.

Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
May 15, 2020 1:09 pm

Good point, Leif.
Svensmark had a good hypothesis, but it has shown to fail after ~2007.

I wonder if there are geothermal effects on cloud formation as well.


Reply to  Zoe Phin
May 15, 2020 1:44 pm

Any energy storage object has a phase lag. This one will be no different.

Reply to  shrnfr
May 15, 2020 4:52 pm

Yes, indeed. One part are the oceans, another the atmosphere and its density.

Anybody ever wondered why the temperature on Venus is so well distributed between poles and equator, night and day site where it is less on Earth and even less on Mars? Density of atmosphere and convection.

Reply to  shrnfr
May 15, 2020 9:22 pm

Venus rotates slowly, which causes little oblateness in its geothermal distribution. This causes a similar temperature at all latitudes.


Reply to  shrnfr
May 16, 2020 4:46 am

@Zoe Phin
No. Really no.

The Moon does not rotate faster then Earth but has way higher amplitudes between North and South and night and day. Answer: no atmosphere.

Reply to  shrnfr
May 16, 2020 12:48 pm


I was talking about Venus.

Venus’ SURFACE receives between 0 and 34 W/m^2 (poles and equator) from the Sun. Since Venus geothermally produces ~16750 W/m^2, the abscence of an additional 34 W/m^2 makes almost no difference to temperature.

The moon on the other hand is almost totally controlled by insolation – which is different for different latitudes.

Reply to  shrnfr
May 17, 2020 11:03 am

Where do you get the number 34 W/m2 from?

Earth receives more and is farther from the sun. Makes no physical sense at all.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Zoe Phin
May 16, 2020 9:13 pm

It is beginning to look like you possess Thor’s Hammer, and everything looks like an anvil to hit.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
May 17, 2020 2:07 am

I’m Valkyrie. I fly on a winged white horse. I drop truth bombs as I fly.

Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
May 15, 2020 4:46 pm

The model might be just too simplistic. You would need aerosols and sufficient water vapor in the right composition of winds and heights and temperature gradients etc. to get sufficient number of clouds.

Clouds are cooling. But without clouds more aerosols don’t help that much. More cosmic rays might be increasing the chance of generating clouds but they might not be sufficient for generating clouds.

About cooling and warming: AMO, PDO, ENSO are not well understood but might override any cosmic ray impact on climate so far. AMO and ENSO have been positive most of the recent time.

ENSO is neutral at the moment but the forecast from NOAA for autumn has increased chances for La Niña conditions. Let’s just wait and see.

The paper from the Japanese(?) group about the correlation of cosmic rays and the eruptions of certain volcano types might be another explanation how the effect on cloud formation could be more indirect than Svensmark’s initial theory.

Too many variables.

Reply to  Ron
May 19, 2020 5:23 pm

What Cloud proved was that cosmic rays increase cloud formation in the presence of biogenic vapors. Most clouds, according to Kirkby are today seeded by sulfuric acid not by biogenic vapors like they used to be pre-industrial revolution. This was according to a statement he made in 2015.

But about the exact same time, another paper came out, and said that in the Southern hemisphere most clouds were formed by biogenic vapors from plankton, so Kirkby’s statement about sulfuric acid could only be true for the Northern Hemisphere.

So where Svensmark’s theory seems to be most likely to be true is in the Southern hemisphere where we have a paucity of stations that could confirm this. Moreover the Southern hemisphere is far cloudier than the Northern hemisphere.

But I think it is a bit premature to say things like Svensmark’s theory is false. I don’t think anyone has any idea of how long it would take to make a significant drop in global temperature.

Jim G
Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
May 16, 2020 9:23 am

Thank you for your continued comments here on WUWT.

It seems to me that to suggest that a lack of temperature increase by a single variable, cosmic rays, refutes the theory is akin to current climate theory that temperature is driven by a single variable, aka carbon dioxide.

So would you agree that since we have had periods of stagnant temperature increase while CO2 increases refutes current CO2 climate theory?

If not, would that also not mean that Svensmark’s theory is also subject to the complexities of the atmospheric processes and may not have been falsified?

Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
May 16, 2020 10:43 am

Svensmark’s theory is that cosmic rays can form nucleating particles onto which water vapor can form and create clouds.
In the real world, there are already many other things that can form nucleating particles. For much of the 20th century, human pollution created so many nucleating particles that any additional particles caused by cosmic rays would have been difficult to measure.

The claim that a couple of years worth of data hasn’t shown the looked for signal proves the theory to be incorrect is just not supportable.

Reply to  MarkW
May 19, 2020 5:29 pm

But that pollution only applies to the Northern hemisphere. The Southern hemisphere is pristine. Only ten percent of the world’s population lives in the Southern hemisphere. And in the Southern hemisphere biogenic vapors from plankton form the cloud condensation nuclei. And the Southern hemisphere is far cloudier than the Northern. The place to really test Svensmark’s theory is the place where we have a paucity of weather stations to collect the data to do it.

Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
May 18, 2020 9:45 am

Another way to ‘save’ the idea is to point to longer term ocean cycles in AMO, ENSO, and PDO temp. anomaly.

Basically, any under-specified model attempting to refute other under-specified models is not helping the situation.

Bloke down the pub
Reply to  Anthony Watts
May 16, 2020 4:00 am

the sun’s magnetic field modulates galactic cosmic rays, and more cosmic rays create more atmospheric clod seeds in Earths atmosphere’
Aren’t there enough clods already?

May 15, 2020 11:22 am

Hi Leif!!! I hope you and yours are well.

Stay safe and healthy, all.

Reply to  Bob Tisdale
May 15, 2020 2:45 pm

Seconded. I always value Dr Svalgaard’s input. Here’s wishing you and yours are doing, and shall remain, well. (That goes for all as well as Leif Svalgaard and Bob Tisdale).

May 15, 2020 11:25 am

“Then the fires began.”
There is an upside to fiber-optic cable

Reply to  Neo
May 15, 2020 12:04 pm

With all its hardened steel and copper power-carrying capacity? Those long-haul undersea cables (and many underground terra fiber bundles) carry high voltage DC, so as to power the necessary repeaters that are spaced out every few dozen-to-hundred kilometers.

I would suppose however that there is a fair amount of ‘earth shielding’ some distance underground, and especially in oceans and other bodies of highly conductive water. So, maybe even ordinary cables are well protected.

Thing is, one has to wonder about the whole worldwide network of telephone cables as well as power transmission lines. Supposedly, the reason the telegraphs had such problems was the LENGTH of their cables. Single wires might span hundreds of miles between the larger cities. Earth was used as the ‘other conductor’ in the circuits of the day. Between the two: elevated conductors and a big ol’ Earth conducting below, well … quite the current could be induced.

Remembering back to the era of this article — 1921 — I am reminded that back then the humungous amounts of power we now carry were definitely NOT being carried about on long-haul transmission lines. Some, sure. But not hordes. Now, literally all power is transmitted from generating stations to the regional ‘grids’ that span thousands of kilometers. Power is synchronized, combined, leveled, switched and comported all over the place, in just-about-perfect phase harmony. 60 Hz in North America, 50 Hz elsewhere. Only a few ° of phase lag or lead from most-every nominal generator to The Grid. Amazing.

But it is that amazing synchrony that could most easily be rendered moot if the kinds of Carrington geomagnetic storm events come unbidden some poorly timed day.

The various generators and switching yards have extraordinary monitoring equipment to detect ‘legs out of phase’, and to cut them off without warning, if they lead … or lag … too much. In seconds-to-minutes time frames.

Once cut out, many of the same systems will ‘sync-them-back-in if the legs reattain their correct phase and voltage. This is GOOD! However once a leg is dropped, it it was supplying substantial power to the switching station’s notion of a downwind grid, well … the drop in load will cause the ‘spinning assets’ to spin faster. Kind of like how an engine will rev up when tires begin to squeal and slip. That does nothing good for “staying in phase” from the automated equipment’s point of view.

On timescales of many-seconds-to-minutes, power stations throttle (unless nuclear) in response to the load drop. Some will cut out entirely. Others come ‘down to phase’, and lock into the GPS timed ‘phase standard’ everyone on the planet can receive. Presumably, things will reconnect soon after. Very likely, a fair amount of manual human intervention would also be needed, to analyze the situation and come up with informed, code, practicum, or policy decisions … not so easily encoded in a switchyard’s teeny-tiny-phase-sensor-brain.

Food for thought.

⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

Reply to  GoatGuy
May 15, 2020 1:29 pm

Protection systems are too slow so the risks in the transmission system is fried transformers, followed by a world shortage. Also potential to speed up corrosion in long gas pipelines.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  HAS
May 15, 2020 8:01 pm

These days there are wide area networks, intercommunication trips, synchrophasors that are streamed at a very high rated and recorded in Phasor management units.
The goal is real time ultra high speed control on the grid, but right now it allows detailed reconstruction of the grid pattern at the moment of a fault or other issue.
These synchrophasors produce interesting maps that look sort of like weather systems.

It is mainly thought of to provide the kind of microcontrol needed for renewables scattered all over the place, coming on and off intermittently as opposed to large steady coal or nuclear power plants.

So technology designed to try and manage crappy intermittent power is part of the answer to a major solar event.

“I hope”

Reply to  HAS
May 16, 2020 10:46 am

These protection systems are fast enough to protect against lightning strikes.

Jean Parisot
May 15, 2020 11:36 am

Has anyone ever built representative equipment, and exposed it to radiation to replicate the effects … rather than model it.

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  Jean Parisot
May 15, 2020 12:28 pm

It depends on what you mean with “representative equipment”.

On a smaller scale we do, but we do not have equipment simulating what the Sun happens to do to us on a large scale.

On a small scale we have a lot of knowledge, experience and equipment. Most electronic equipment goes through many tests, in order to satisfy safety, functionality in many environments and not least to satisfy the customer with an ISO certificate.

To what degree the electronic equipment and installation is EMC protected, is down to the usual amount you are willing to pay. This is both a political and GDP dependent question.

Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
May 15, 2020 2:41 pm

In 1921 it was not unusual for low and high voltage wires to be cotton-insulated, sometimes even asphalt-saturated. About then rubber was also being used, obviously natural.

Jean Parisot
Reply to  Enginer01
May 15, 2020 4:22 pm


That’s what I’m getting at. Rebuild the old equipment – bare solid copper, fiber and tar wrapped, wood boards, slow fuses, etc. Then put it in modern well characterized, chamber until it bursts into flame.

If someone hasn’t done it, I’m gonna start scraping up money because it sounds like fun


Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
May 15, 2020 8:07 pm

Much of the electrical protection relays in the grid are double faraday cage design with multiple grounding circuits for different pathways, safety, high frequency garbage, induced surges.
Whether this protects from a once in 100 years solar event is an experiment I wait to see.

The equipment can be stellar and if the substation ground grid is not, then I guess “poof”.

As we say in electrical engineering, never let the magic smoke out of the box, each apparatus only has a limited amount.

May 15, 2020 11:49 am

Links to numerous article from the USA press on wikipedia

Reply to  Vuk
May 15, 2020 12:16 pm

U.S. Air Force scientists S. M. Silverman and E. W. Cliver wrote a paper I’ve just briefly looked at, available at this
very long link but the article looks interesting

Reply to  Vuk
May 15, 2020 12:27 pm

Typoo while typing the link, doesn’t work

Reply to  Vuk
May 15, 2020 12:31 pm

Sorry, link doesn’t work. It’s behind paywall on Science direct, but for my own use i have it here http://www.vukcevic.co.uk/15May1921.pdf

Reply to  Vuk
May 15, 2020 1:24 pm

May 1921 SSN = 22.2 on the old uncorrected scale, the SC15 min was couple of years later around mid 2013. From the paper:
May was not particularly active, a period of spotless days, from 4 to 7 May, preceded the period of interest here. The Greenwich Observatory comments : “A big complex sport (magnetic class) unique for its size on the solar equator and of great observational interest because of the distribution of magnetic polarities ….”

Reply to  Vuk
May 15, 2020 1:58 pm

typo ‘around mid 1923’

Reply to  Vuk
May 15, 2020 2:14 pm

May 1921 SSN = 22.2 on the old uncorrected scale
Using the old scale is not advisable any more.
It would be like using the Reamur temperature scale, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R%C3%A9aumur_scale

Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
May 15, 2020 2:54 pm

Hi doc, nice to hear from you, in Balkans where I come from we are a bit slow in catching up with fancy inventions.

Reply to  Vuk
May 15, 2020 8:31 pm

with appropriate help, I’m sure that even you can get up-to-date.

Ron Long
May 15, 2020 11:51 am

All I know if there is a Carrington or 1921 event I’m into the wine cellar and not coming out until all of the wine is gone, because if you go outside it could bake your cookies.

May 15, 2020 12:01 pm

What happens to radio transmission during a strong solar storm? Can one expect electrical domestic connection boards to catch fire the way telegraph connections did?

Tim Gorman
Reply to  FranBC
May 15, 2020 12:35 pm

Radio will be impacted in a significant way. Radio communications from an airport tower or between air traffic controllers and aircraft could be affected badly. I would also be worried about residential solar installations connected to large banks of batteries. I don’t know if installations like this have ever tested for what would happen – from long power outages to fires. Military satellites are probably hardened well enough to withstand the impacts but how about commercial commercial satellites such as those used by Direct TV? How about the computers in today’s automobiles? It wouldn’t take much of an impact to cause a lot of traffic problems. Power substations may be able to protect themselves by shedding load but what happens downstream? What happens to generators in diesel back up setups or the electric generators in railroad engines (lots of copper in those that can act as transformers).

Reply to  Tim Gorman
May 15, 2020 8:08 pm

Hmmm. Mention of deisrl backup generators brings Fukushima to mind.

I wonder if nuke plants are hardened against this kind of thing.

May 15, 2020 12:05 pm

Let’s not panic. Engineers know about the Carrington event and how to protect against a repeat. We may have a cool period ahead, but no Maunder Minimum for 400 years (half of a Jose cycle). Nothing that can’t be managed by smart farmers.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  pochas94
May 15, 2020 1:21 pm

Let’s not panic.

pochas94, ….. don’t be talking silly.

Of course they will panic “BIG TIME”, …… just like they did out of fear of the Coronavirus Pandemic after the news media and Democrat politicians told them they were going to die iffen they didn’t stay home, locked in their basements with their faces covered with a mask.

Walter Sobchak
May 15, 2020 12:12 pm

Are there any estimates of how often similar CMEs occur on the Sun? and of how often they hit earth?

Reply to  Walter Sobchak
May 15, 2020 1:31 pm

On the page 5 (526) of the USAF paper I linked to there is a table of magnetic storms 1868–1998 (based on the aa-index intensity)

Reply to  Vuk
May 15, 2020 3:33 pm

Unfortnately, the data collections I found end 2010



If someone has newer ???

Or did they change to another ndex ? AP/KP….

Tom Abbott
May 15, 2020 12:12 pm

From the article: “If the May 1921 storm hit today, “I’d expect it to lead to most, if not all, of the impacts outlined in the 2013 Royal Academy of Engineering report led by Paul Cannon,” says Hapgood. “This could include regional power outages, profound changes to satellite orbits, and loss of radio-based technologies such as GPS. The disruption of GPS could significantly impact logistics and emergency services.”

The United States Congress and the President should spend the money to strengthen the U.S. electrical grid. They already have a plan formulated that will cover the weaknesses of the electrical grid, and it is a relatively cheap fix at just a few billion dollars in cost. The holdup in the past was who would pay for it, the government or the electric companies. This needs to be resolved.

China has the ability to do great damage to the U.S. electrical grid, and now that we are no longer friends, and we see that the Chinese leadership has no compunctions against attacking us, we should be prudent and protect ourselves from an avenue of attack that would be even more devastating to our society than the Wuhan virus.

Instead of putting our hospitals on hold as happened with the Wuhan virus, our hospitals would not be able to run at all if hit by an electromagnetic pulse. We would all be sitting at home as we are doing now, but in the case of an EM event we would be sitting there in the dark, with no television or telephones, and the transportation sector would be unable to function. Millions of us would be dead in such an event.

Let’s spend a few billion dollars now to keep something like that from happening. Cheap insurance.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Tom Abbott
May 15, 2020 2:06 pm

Let’s spend a few billion dollars now to keep something like that from happening. Cheap insurance.

But, but, but …… the Democrats and Rhinos in Congress have more important “fish to fry”, …… like convicting Trump of a federal crime and regaining control of the Senate and the White House (POTUS).

Reply to  Tom Abbott
May 15, 2020 2:38 pm

Get a grip, Tom.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
May 15, 2020 2:41 pm

from : http://energyskeptic.com/2015/power-transformers-that-take-up-to-2-years-to-build/
“If large power transformers (LPT) are destroyed by a geomagnetic disturbance (GMD) electromagnetic pulse (EMP), cyber-attack, sabotage, severe weather, floods, or simply old age, parts or all of the electric grid could be down in a region for 6 months to 2 years. This is because the USA imports 85% of them, there is competition with other nations for limited production and raw materials such as special grade electrical steel.
LPTs are custom built, with long lead times to design, manufacture, and deliver, with components depending on long foreign production and supply chains. The United States large power transformers are ageing faster than they’re being replaced, and even more are needed for new intermittent renewable generation, which has the potential to damage them if not integrated carefully into the existing electric grid. There are possibly tens of thousands of LPT’s in America, mostly built between 1954 and 1978, so an increasing percentage of these aging LPT’s will need to be replaced within the next few decades.”

Reply to  Vuk
May 17, 2020 12:18 am

This is a very sobering paper.
One would have thought that LPT manufacture would be a strategic industry, as important as building military aircraft and aircraft carriers.
Maybe the economists think that production should be outsourced to the Chinese as they are offen cheaper!
Incidentally I wonder how it will be for electrically powered Schnabel railcars and Goldhofer trucks that are used to move them from factory to their usage site.
Maybe they will have their own diesel powered engine to supply the electricity needed!
How many windmills are needed to provide the energy to make them?
One ends up thinking that the zealots don’t have a clue about the realities of heavy engineering.

May 15, 2020 12:45 pm

“thus increasing cloud cover and cooling the planet.”

I say it again and again and… CLOUDS ARE WARMING THE PLANET!!!

All it takes to learn this utter important basic fact, is to look up weather records. Of course people are way too busy modelling their computers and theorizing over what they do not understand, so that they have no time doing science as it is supposed to be..

Reply to  Leitwolf
May 15, 2020 2:28 pm


Reply to  Leitwolf
May 15, 2020 2:43 pm

Leitwolf: I have looked up the weather records – well actually satellite cloud and SST records. Over the period of available data (over 30 years) SSTs increased while cloud cover decreased. That makes it extremely unlikely that clouds warm the planet. There are plenty of papers associating rising global temperature with falling cloud cover, see for example Pokrovsky 2019 https://journals.eco-vector.com/0205-9614/article/view/11444/pdf
[SST = Sea Surface Temperature. Cloud data is not available over the whole satellite era – not that I could find.]

Reply to  Mike Jonas
May 15, 2020 4:29 pm

That is NOT how it works, in fact it is not even sciene. You need to test a hypothesis with solid empiric data. It is not enough to trough some chicken bones to read the truth from it.

Actually there is other “research” suggesting cloud cover has increased and it reduced global warming!? Meaning it would have been even worse if not, and thus explaining why warming was not as strong as models suggested.

The beautiful thing about weather records is that we have shitloads of them. So we can look at certain correlations without statistical uncertainties as we have no issue with sample size. What these records tell us is, it is warmer with clouds, and colder without. It is that simple.

Gerald Machnee
Reply to  Leitwolf
May 15, 2020 5:12 pm


Reply to  Leitwolf
May 16, 2020 6:40 am

The thing that makes me skeptical of a major effect from clouds is that cloud formation is a thermodynamically reversible process, meaning that cloud formation can have no effect on the local energy balance. Actual precipitation is a different story, a definite negative feedback on global warming.

Reply to  Leitwolf
May 15, 2020 2:50 pm


Carl Friis-Hansen
May 15, 2020 12:45 pm

About the grid transformers in case of an 1921 event:

Power transformers are the backbone of the grid. Some transformers at power stations increase voltage so that it can be transmitted many miles, while others “step down” voltage so it can enter homes at safe levels. Large ones can take months to repair or rebuild, resulting in long-term blackouts, according to the Electric Power Research Group.

In an emergency, federal agencies could set up temporary transformers to act as a stopgap, much like FEMA sets up temporary housing after disasters. The Department of Homeland Security has a Recovery Transformer program devoted to designing and building a type of easily deployable transformer that can be installed anywhere in an emergency. And the Department of Energy (DOE) is working on a “strategic transformer reserve” — a supply of extra transformers that can be trucked throughout America if necessary.

A segment from About NBC News Digital “How We’ll Safeguard Earth From a Solar Storm Catastrophe”

Jim Gorman
Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
May 16, 2020 6:41 am

Carl. –> “The Department of Homeland Security has a Recovery Transformer program devoted to designing and building a type of easily deployable transformer that [b]can be[/b] installed anywhere in an emergency. And the Department of Energy (DOE) [b]is working on[/b] a “strategic transformer reserve” — a supply of extra transformers that [b]can be[/b] trucked throughout America if necessary.” (Bold by me)

A lot of iffy words in there that make me think it is pie in the sky!

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
May 16, 2020 9:26 pm

It would be interesting because if the warehouse where the substitute transformers are kept is farther away from the place(s) of need than a half-tank of gas/diesel, then the installation crew may have difficulty getting back home. After all, the gas stations now require electricity to pump fuel.

Rick C PE
May 15, 2020 12:57 pm

These days whenever someone around me sneezes I worry about a coronal mass ejection.😁

Reply to  Rick C PE
May 15, 2020 4:17 pm

Drink a Corona with lime. You’ll be fine. :))

May 15, 2020 1:34 pm

“Excess cosmic rays pose a health hazard to astronauts and polar air travelers, affect the electro-chemistry of Earth’s upper atmosphere and may help trigger lightning.”
This quote is exactly in line with reality as seen in North America (increase in electrical discharges caused by increased ionization by secondary galactic radiation).
In the above quote, there is no question of an increase in cloudiness, but of electro-chemical changes in the upper atmosphere.
comment image

Clay Sanborn
May 15, 2020 1:41 pm

Typo FYI – “more cosmic rays create more atmospheric clod seeds in Earths atmosphere”, “clod”.
BTW – A very interesting article.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Clay Sanborn
May 15, 2020 3:20 pm

Not a typo, it’s how Michael Mann was created, he’s definitely a clod.

Clay Sanborn
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
May 15, 2020 4:03 pm

We find all kinds of anomalies in nature, like cancer cells. The Cosmos starts out to make a cloud, and ends up with another anomalous clod. Nuts.

High Treason
May 15, 2020 2:07 pm

The sun is in lockdown because it has a corona virus.

High Treason
May 15, 2020 2:16 pm

Another Carrington type event is overdue. This time, with the world so wired up, it would cause massive economic disruption in some nations already hit by the scamdemic.
Those nations that do not have their grids fried will be at a distinct economic advantage. There will be calls again that the crisis calls for One World Government and calls for this being the impetus to go 100% renewable.
If we do not bow down to these demands, we will be branded “racists.”

Paul Milenkovic
Reply to  High Treason
May 15, 2020 4:18 pm


Maybe that could be said about major earthquakes. If continental plates are shifting but a fault is locked, can build up strain (that is, deformation) that can suddenly let go in a massive earthquake.

What makes a massive Earth-directed coronal mass ejection, overdue? There may be a certain, small probability of such a thing every year, and the more years we put off “hardening the grid” or whatever the remediation, the more chance of getting zapped without being prepared.

But is this chance greater this year and the year before or next year? I don’t think the Sun builds up earthquake-type strain, making the even more likely if it hasn’t happened in a long while?

Tim Gorman
Reply to  High Treason
May 16, 2020 5:27 am

And the one world government (i.e. the UN) will, once again, demonstrate their absolute ignorance of how “green” energy works. Solar installations will see induced voltages that will likely destroy any current or volltage controllers followed by destruction of connected battery banks, especially in residential installatons. Wind towers that do not have their propelllers feathered will see the feathering motors damaged leaving the towers vulnerable to the next high wind event. They will probably see the actual generators damaged because of the large number of copper windings involved.

Green power will probably see just as much damage as any other form of electric generation.

Reply to  Tim Gorman
May 16, 2020 10:54 am

It doesn’t matter how many windings a motor has, because those wires go in both directions. As a result the energy cancels.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  MarkW
May 17, 2020 4:35 am


So transformers don’t work? Electromagnets (ie.g. a nail wrapped in wire) doesn’t work? My EE professors lied to me 50 years ago?

So we don’t have to worry about EMP or coronal ejections? Someone needs to tell the government!

May 15, 2020 2:18 pm

By May 25, huge amounts of rain will fall in the northeast of the US.

May 15, 2020 2:45 pm

How long did the The Maunder Minimum last 60 years?
How long were the high altitude aerosols from the eruption of Mt. Tambora in 1815. in the air?

The Maunder Minimum, also known as the “prolonged sunspot minimum”, is the name used for the period around 1645 to 1715


Also how did Mt. Tambora in 1815. do this 100 years after the Maunder Minimum.

“The cold Maunder Minimum, where this claim originates, was also accompanied by huge amounts of high altitude aerosols from the eruption of Mt. Tambora in 1815. It is likely the cause of the “year without a summer” not the lack of sunspots”.

Me confused

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Mark.R
May 15, 2020 3:22 pm

And I think Willis has shown that cooling started sharply just before Tambora…

John Finn
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
May 16, 2020 3:17 am

Has he? Where?

Reply to  Mark.R
May 15, 2020 3:52 pm

yep – this is a mistake:

“The Dalton Minimum” would fit quite better in this context.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Gentletramp
May 15, 2020 10:37 pm

Correct, Anthony has confused the early 19th Century Dalton Minimum with the deeper late 17th Century Maunder minimum.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
May 16, 2020 5:36 am


Rich Lambert
May 15, 2020 2:59 pm

Mobile earth moving equipment typically is tested to ensure it is immune to the effects of 100 V/meter electromagnetic fields.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Rich Lambert
May 16, 2020 9:31 pm

You said, “Mobile earth moving equipment typically is tested to ensure it is immune to the effects of 100 V/meter electromagnetic fields.” I should hope so because that is a typical vertical gradient between the ground and the ionosphere.

Dudley Horscroft
May 15, 2020 5:25 pm

“Of course with adjustments de jour being the current mission of climate scientists that are the gatekeepers of the surface data, we may never know for sure.” (See below at end of mail.)

The biggest problem would probably be the numerous windmills, and all the solar collectors. Windmills generate AC, variable frequency and voltage depending on the wind strength, which has to be rectified to DC and then turned back to AC at grid voltage and frequency. Frazzle a few of these rectifiers and inverters and the grid is down, even if the power lines survive. And if the grid is down it is very difficult to get the inverters providing power at the proper frequency, which is why it took such a lot of time to get things working again in South Australia. SA was not helped by a few of the grid towers falling as well.

But we know one thing, the cause of the 1921 ‘event’ was Donald Trump. Who else could have had such a maleficent effect of the power system?

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Dudley Horscroft
May 16, 2020 5:29 am


May 15, 2020 5:38 pm

When BC Hydro was about to spend $1 billion to replace all 1.5 million our analogue induction disc meters with “Smart Meters”, I inquired about likely effect of a future Carrington type event. “Don’t actually know” was the answer.

Elizabeth May, long time environmental activist and the sole Canadian Green Party parliamentary member, opposed them on the grounds that their wireless “emissions” caused cancer.

Ironically, the prime rationale was the ability for “demand management”, the utilities power to turn off your appliances to shed load when the grid is stressed….as in clouds passing over a major solar plant or the wind dropping inconveniently.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Betapug
May 15, 2020 8:16 pm

And people actually listen to her, as neurologically delayed as she is

Such a joke

May 15, 2020 6:40 pm

This article linked the Maunder Minimum (1645~1715) global cooling event to the Tambora eruption (1815), however, these two events occurred 100 years apart, so there is no causation/correlation between these 2 events.

Perhaps the author meant to link the Dalton Minimum (1790~1830) to the Tambora eruption in 1815?

I’ve always dated the Little Ice Age as spanning from 1280~1820 as it corresponds to the following four GSM events: Wolf (1280~1350), Sporer (1450~1550), Maunder (1645~1715), and Dalton (1790~1830).

Reply to  SAMURAI
May 16, 2020 1:07 am


Mount Tambora
[Excerpt from wiki]

With an estimated ejecta volume of 160 km3 (38 cu mi), Tambora’s 1815 outburst was the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history. The explosion was heard on Sumatra island more than 2,000 km (1,200 mi) away. Heavy volcanic ash falls were observed as far away as Borneo, Sulawesi, Java, and Maluku Islands. Most deaths from the eruption were from starvation and disease, as the eruptive fallout ruined agricultural productivity in the local region. The death toll was at least 71,000 people, of whom 11,000–12,000 were killed directly by the eruption;[6] the often-cited figure of 92,000 people killed is believed to be overestimated.[7]
The eruption caused global climate anomalies that included the phenomenon known as “volcanic winter”: 1816 became known as the “Year Without a Summer” because of the effect on North American and European weather. Crops failed and livestock died in much of the Northern Hemisphere, resulting in the worst famine of the 19th century.[6]
[end of excerpt]

[Excerpt from my above post]

The Dalton Minimum had 2 back-to-back low SC’s with SSNmax of 48 in 1804 and 46 in 1816. Tambora erupted in 1815.

Two of the coldest years in the Dalton were 1814 (7.75C year avg CET) and 1816 (7.87C year avg CET).
[end of excerpt]


So, for CET’s, it appears that the 1815 eruption of Tambora had minimal effect, since CET’s in 1814 were slightly lower than CET’s for 1816.

However, the anecdotal evidence suggests that 1816 was a much harder year for humanity than 1814.
What to believe?

May 15, 2020 7:29 pm

“Experts believe we are about to enter the deepest period of sunshine “recession” ever recorded as sunspots have virtually disappeared.

April 2020 (+/- some uncertainty) was forecast to be the minimum between cycles 24 and 25, so lack of sunspots is not a surprise. SC25 progression looks ‘normal’, in spite of sparse activity:

And activity will soon pick up. The Stereo Ahead solar satellite (currently about 60 degrees “ahead” in Earth’s orbit) has spotted an active region getting ready to emerge on the east limb.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Johanus
May 16, 2020 10:15 pm

Stereo-A is actually in the behind position, at 73º behind Earth as of today (and closing).

The active regions you mention are both at -90 heliographic longitude, the NH one at +32N and a smaller one at -28S and are about to rotate into Earth’s view.

Reply to  Johanus
May 17, 2020 2:47 pm

Then Stereo-A is even further ‘Ahead’ then I realized — by about 180° 🙂

Both regions have now rotated into view

John Bruyn
May 15, 2020 8:51 pm

18-19 September 1941 was a big one too. They happend around the time that Jupiter lapped Saturn, which is a 20-year event, on these occasions with Uranus nearby in opposition in 1921 and with Uranus on the same side of the sun in 1941.

May 15, 2020 9:06 pm

Well, I have experience of electrical problems. McGill bought these phones that we used to connect to the mainframe and all other connections. In my building, the phones kept burning out. And I kept losing hard disks on those old PC’s. The honcho said they would not continue to replace them. I said my contract included such services and forced that issue. However, I got a techy friend to monitor the power. There were over 400V very short spikes on the line. It was hypothesised that they were from electrocautery in the hospital on whose circut we were. To protect computer equipment, I had to spend good grant money on heavy duty surge suppressors.

Now with solid state stuff controlling everything from the stove to the washing machine, I suspect that a Carrington sort of storm would destroy most of the domestic equipment across the world. Is this a rational fear?

May 15, 2020 9:27 pm

Maybe of more interest would be to watch the windmills and solar panels that have thickly littered the countryside of all those Western nations when a solar storm is in progress.

Virtual signallers firework display of extreme beauty! 🙂

P.S. I wounder what would happen to all those connected batteries when under such stress.

May 15, 2020 9:30 pm

This Sun thingy seems damned dangerous to me. Can’t we put a Faraday cage or some sort of shielding around it?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  RoHa
May 16, 2020 9:35 pm

Would you settle for a Dyson Sphere?

May 15, 2020 10:05 pm

Why couldn’t you just unplug or turn everything off in your home to save your electrical stuff?

Reply to  Rick
May 16, 2020 3:17 am

From what I’ve read, unplugging (isolation of devices) would be safe for the device but just ‘turn everything off in your home’ would probably not be a very good strategy. With ‘turn everything off in your home’ approach your equipment is connected to the neutral return wiring and the domestic ground system – both of which can have very large current traveling through them during a CME induced Geomagnetic disturbances (GMDs) (often called geomagnetic storms, and geomagnetically induced currents (GICs)).
If the CME is large enough induction from atmospheric effects and ground currents could easily wreck house wiring with arcing at switches and breakers, burned wiring, and everything still connected to it would be similarly affected .
The BIG problem is trying to predict what level and frequency of induced current will impact all of your home’s wiring at your location.
The site https://electricenergyonline.com/energy/magazine/966/article/Geomagnetic-Storms-and-Geomagnetically-Induced-Currents.htm says much on the subject.

The summary …

GICs in long power lines occur due to the induced near-surface geoelectric field during a GMD event. This induced near-surface electric field results from the changing geomagnetic field as it interacts with the deep earth. The inductive response of the deep earth varies, due to the spatial variation of deep earth conductivities. The magnitude of the geoelectric field therefore varies greatly with location and also over the evolution of a GMD event. These GMD-induced geoelectric fields constitute the natural hazard that drives GIC risk. The risk to a particular power system depends on how it responds to this natural hazard. Certain system configurations are more susceptible to damage during a GMD event than others. As our understanding of the nature of GMDs and how they drive potential damage from GICs improves, so do the tools and resources that are available. Earth conductivity models, geoelectric models, local magnetic field measurements and power system modeling software are all tools that can be used to analyze and monitor GMDs and GICs, and to assist in protecting power systems from them.

Also of note is the Solar Shield project outlined at https://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2010/26oct_solarshield/ but take-up on the project is(was?) poor …

Pulkkinen stresses that Solar Shield is experimental and has never been field-tested during a severe geomagnetic storm. A small number of utility companies have installed current monitors at key locations in the power grid to help the team check their predictions. So far, though, the sun has been mostly quiet with only a few relatively mild storms during the past year. The team needs more data.

“We’d like more power companies to join our research effort,” he adds. “The more data we can collect from the field, the faster we can test and improve Solar Shield.” Power companies work with the team through EPRI, the Electric Power Research Institute. Of course a few good storms would help test the system, too. They’re coming. The next solar maximum is expected around 2013, so it’s only a matter of time.

May 15, 2020 10:36 pm

Governments are absolutely awful and insufferable at effectively dealing with crises as the WUhan flu global economic shutdown clearly shows—the “cure” is much worse than the disease..

Regarding the US government’s preventative measures to prepare for the next inevitable Carrington Event, it would “only” cost US taxpayers $3.8 billion (just 8 hours of federal hourly spending) to harden the electrical grid sufficiently to quickly recover from EMP event, but, of course, the government does nothing:


The US government would rather suffer $10’s of trillions in economic loses, and perhaps millions(?) of lives rather than spending $3.8 billion to harden the grid…

“Never let a good crisis go to waste”…

Governments are completely insane…

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  SAMURAI
May 16, 2020 9:37 pm

No, the problem is that the elected politicians are irrational — just like the rest of us.

Joel O'Bryan
May 15, 2020 11:15 pm

These CME and x-class flares come almost exclusively (at better than 95%) from what are termed beta-gamma-delta (bgd) characterized sunspot active regions. bgd spots have a large compact area of wrapped-around, mixed polarity regions. This twisting of opposite polarity regions are begging… just waiting for reconnection events to happen which then release huge bursts of unrestrained magnetic energy into the coronasphere, which results in the CME and xray burst.

The real question is “What earlier instabilities causes this twisting of magnetic flux lines deep in the convective zone (CZ)?” How did these magnetic flux tubes evolve, so that when they reached the solar surface on their magnetic buoyant journey upwards thru the CZ did they begin to differentially rise and then under alpha effect begin to twist?
Crucially, What disturbance caused the initial buoyancy disturbance in the thin magnetic tubes to begin to twist?

MHD simulations can reasonably and faithfully model the twisted polarity fields we actually observe in bgd regions. The modelers do this by artificially inducing in the rising flux tube a “kinking” set of buoyancy kicks in the rising flux. But that begs the question, “What then would actually cause that to happen in the Real Sun, and not artificially induced in a computer model?”

My strong Gravitational Wave hypothesis says it is the passage of strong GW that initiates a small harmonic standing points point several hundred kilometers apart in a deep CZ, horizontally aligned thin flux tube (near the tachocline) that then evolves as it rises to the alpha-twisting instability that ultimately results (14-17 days later) in a bgd active region at the photosphere (the AR and the flares and maybe CMEs). This is the delayed phase response because GW arrival angle polarization of space stretching and contracting would only drive strain in deeper horizontal tubes. Meanwhile, if the sun was already in a magnetically active state, then near surface magnetic structures in the limb are horizontally oriented and thuis subject to GW strain inducing distortions. These near solar limb magnetic structures (realtive to the GW arrival angle) are oriented vertically and would respond to very strong GW in an early phase of increasesd polarity twisting and thus flaring (days 1-8 after GW passage).

The AR’s (and X-class flares and CME) of early September 2017 correspond to the arrival of several documented strong GW events in mid August 2017. Similarly in the initial GW wave detection in 2015 by the LIGO consortium and subsequent AR-solar flares.

Strong GW events could this be the driver events that initiate the deep magnetic flux tube twisting that rise and subsequently become bgd active regions, but it also requires the sun to be in a magnetically active phase of its solar cycle to be sensitive to these GW passages.

Additionally, this hypothesis posits that other stars may behave similarly to GW passage. Thus well-known flare stars like Proxima Centuri (4.24 ly, our nearest neighbor) are also reacting to GWs passing thoguh their CZ and initiating magnetic disturbances that result in flaring.

GW170817, the famous first Binary Neutron Star inspiral GW detected by LIGO, passed though the sun on 17 Aug 2017, and then solar AR’s arose 14-17 days. Those bgd active regions then drove the geomagnetic storms (from flares and CMEs) from 2-10 September 2017.

That August 2017 BNS GW passed though Proxima Centauri about 18 months before it arrived into our solar system, about mid March 2016 (15 March 2016). If the GW170817 did disturb PC’s magnetic CZ structures, then the 4.244 Ly light travel time would put the prediction of observable flares to be 8 June 2020, adding in about 3-8 days flux tube rise time in the smaller Red Dwarf of PC, then predicts flaring starting on PC as observed from Earth to begin just after 8 June 2020 and continuing to (or beginning 11-16 June 2020 (factoring in the light year distance uncertainties between PC and Earth).
If the strong GW-AR hypothesis is correct, then the result could be epic super-flaring from Proxima Centauri by Southern Hemisphere astronomers by mid-June (next month).

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
May 16, 2020 4:31 am

My understanding of GWs is that their only effect is inertial. Their passage creates a gravitational gradient, essentially a tidal force, that induces displacements (“strain”) within matter. AFAIK GWs do not interact directly with EM fields, but only the masses which carry these fields.

So how do these GW ‘tides’ differ from those induced by the planets rotating around the Sun? Does your theory distinguish the different origin of GW forces?

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Johanus
May 16, 2020 10:23 am

Nope. GWs have no inertial effects. An accelerometer would measure no change (in a measured acceleration force) to one’s passing.
GWs passage (based on Einstein’s predicted polarization) shorten and lengthen the space path length between the laser mirrors and the test masses suspended at the ends of each arm that bounce the laser beam back and forth. That is without any effects of inertial acceleration.

Reply to  Johanus
May 16, 2020 1:55 pm

“GWs have no inertial effects”

GW is all about inertia. Mass is the physical analog of electric charge, in the same sense that GW radiation (GWR) is analogous to electromagnetic radiation (EMR).

EMR is generated when electric charges are accelerated, which transports energy which can be recovered by the receiver when charges in the antenna are moved creating a current, which in turn can generate heat energy due to electrical resistance in the receiver circuits.

Analogously, GWR is generated when masses are accelerated, which transports energy which can be recovered by a GW detector (“receiver”) when mass “charges” in the receiver are moved. This also can generate heat energy due to friction, like “sticky beads” sliding on a rod.

But EMR effects are very, very strong and comprise most of the events that we can observe in the Universe. GWR effects are very, very weak (unless you are standing on a huge mass) so GWs are barely observable.

So I am still wondering what kind of GWs do you suppose will have an effect on solar activity? They will less effect, I think, than planetary tidal effects, which are somewhat controversial.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Johanus
May 16, 2020 5:45 pm

You simply do not have a theoretical grasp on GWs, their GR-predicted (and now observed) polarization. I can’t help you if you want to insist on applying classical physics ideas to general relativity.

The mirrored test masses at the ends of the 4 km LIGO arms do not “feel” an acceleration when the GW passes through them. The path length (space contrction and elongtion) changes though as the oscillating GW from the BBH/BNS inspiral waveform moves through them. This moves the laser beam aligned phases from the orthogonal arms in and out of phase to create the interference patten that the real-time analysis algorithm’s deconvolve to determine frequency content and amplitudes. In that regard it is just a classic Michelson Interferometer.

Reply to  Johanus
May 17, 2020 1:09 pm

“You simply do not have a theoretical grasp on GWs, their GR-predicted (and now observed) polarization. I can’t help you if you want to insist on applying classical physics ideas to general relativity.”

Actually, I am wondering if _you_ understand the fundamentals of GW detection? [But I do read your comments all the time and know that you are very competent and knowledgeable. So we are not communicating, somehow. 😐

How could classical physics even apply here? The concept of ‘gravity as waves’ does not exist there.

And how can you say GWs have no inertial effects? Inertia (“mass”) is absolutely crucial for generation and detection of GWs. (Analogous to ‘charge’ for EMR).

“The mirrored test masses at the ends of the 4 km LIGO arms do not “feel” an acceleration when the GW passes through them.”
Einstein’s Principle of Equivalence, stating that gravity forces cannot be distinguished from acceleration forces does not really apply here because the GWs generate _gradient_ fields which can be distinguished (“detected”).

Also, if gravitational radiation is real, it must transport energy. If GWs apply measurable strain on the LIGO mirrors, then the mirrors “felt” that strain, in the sense that energy was transferred to those objects, as Feymann suggested in 1957 with his “sticky beads” argument.

There was a recent LIGO paper which also shows that the LIGO mirrors must absorb infinitesimal but real energy from the GWs (unless “ideal” approximations are assumed).

Also, I still would like you to explain the nature of GWs which can have an effect on solar activity, assuming that GWs do not directly interact with electromagnetism, and that any transfer of energy or momentum would be infinitesimal. (Hard enough to prove that Jupiter or Saturn have any effect on solar activity gravitationally)

Maybe I do not understand what “strong GW” is.

Reply to  Johanus
May 19, 2020 4:09 pm

“… assuming that GWs do not directly interact with electromagnetism, and that any transfer of energy or momentum would be infinitesimal. …”

Answering my own question, I did a little research on this and found that Einstein’s field equations for GR include a formulation for Maxwell’s EMR equations, involving a separate stress-momentum tensor for EMR, describing gravitational interaction with EMR. But it is a traceless tensor, so no stretching or compression, just cross-dimensional terms, which provides a means to compute curved ‘geodesics’ for light beams near massive objects (slightly abusing the term ‘geodesic’ to denote the shortest path between points in curved spacetime)

This equation is the only place where the metric (and thus gravity) enters into the theory of electromagnetism. Furthermore, the equation is invariant under a change of scale, that is, multiplying the metric by a constant has no effect on this equation. Consequently, gravity can only affect electromagnetism by changing the speed of light relative to the global coordinate system being used. Light is only deflected by gravity because it is slower when near to massive bodies


But the strain felt by LIGO detectors from collisions of distant black-holes, and such, is on the order of 10-21, equivalent to a displacement smaller than an atom. I still do not see how that can have any observable effect on solar activity.

Hocus Locus
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
May 17, 2020 7:59 am

Scandalously off topic, but if you enjoy sci-fi about people-popping may I suggest Richard Elliott’s 1984 novel The Sword Of Allah with a plot where perp designs a superweapon to trigger a brief solar flare and make people pop like Marshmallow Peeps in a microwave oven. The writing is pedestrian but I enjoyed its perky people popping premise.

If you prefer your people to pop from tidal forces — David Brin’s 1990 novel Earth is the best read. It is a veritable people-popalooza! as villains use singularities loosed from the lab to focus gravity like light with people popping precision.

May 16, 2020 1:52 am

Updating my post of 10May2020:

Planting was ~one month across the Great Plains of North America for the past two years 2018 and 2019. In 2018 the growing season was warm and the crop recovered, but in 2019 there was a huge crop failure across the Great Plains; however the harvest was good in the USA East and South. In 2019 fully 30% of the huge USA corn crop was never planted because of wet ground. Much of the grain crop across the Great Plains was not harvested because of early cold and snow in the Fall. Read the paper by Joe D’Aleo and me.

By Allan M.R. MacRae and Joseph D’Aleo, October 27, 2019. Published on wattsup.

Hope we have a good grain crop this year, but don’t bet on it. Here is why:

The Nino 34 SST Anomaly has crashed from almost +0.7 on April 18th down to below MINUS 0.2 today (May 16th). a decline of ~0.9C. in one month (H/T Walter Dnes).
comment image

5. UAH LT Global Temperatures can be predicted ~4 months in the future with just two parameters:
UAHLT (+4 months) = 0.2*Nino34Anomaly + 0.15 – 5*SatoGlobalAerosolOpticalDepth (Figs. 5a and 5b)

by Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng., June 15, 2019. Published on wattsup c/w spreadsheet of all data and calculations.

Four months from this rapid cooling of Nino34 SST’s is mid-August to mid-September 2020 – harvest time.
No volcanoes needed – depending on future Nino34 SST’s, cooling may already be locked in.

May 16, 2020 5:58 am


Yep. The coming La Niña will very likely be the strongest since 2010, and will finally offset the lingering warming effects of the 2015~16 Super El Niño event.

BTW, there is a gigantic 4.5 million KM^2 blob of very cold Gulf Stream water stretching east from New York that will also have a substantial global cooling effect.

My guess is it’s a precursor to the start of the 30-year AMO cool cycle— I’ve never seen anything like this.

Reply to  SAMURAI
May 16, 2020 8:20 am

Hi Samurai.

SST Anomaly – I’ve been watching the Nino34 area for a while – strong -0.9C cooling for the past month.
comment image

SST’s – Re your comment, I see the cold channel approx at the location of the Gulf Stream – new to me – thank you. I will inquire further and advise.
comment image

May 16, 2020 9:47 am

Thanks, Allan-san. I look forward to hearing what could possibly be causing such extreme cold anomalies in the North Atlantic.

There are sections of this North Atlantic Cold Blob where SST cold anomalies exceed -5.0C. It’s like an Atlantic Super La Niña event….

There is something very strange happening.

Reply to  SAMURAI
May 16, 2020 12:33 pm

Hi Samurai,

First response is storms on the East Coast of the USA (~ off the Carolina’s) are stirring up the water – remember we are looking at SST’s – very shallow water temperatures.

Will advise if I get more info.

Reply to  SAMURAI
May 16, 2020 12:48 pm


Second verse – same as the first:

“the result of finally getting some NW flow to mix up the SST.”

From two of the top meteorologists on this blue planet. 🙂

Reply to  SAMURAI
May 16, 2020 8:11 pm


I don’t think this cold Atlantic Blob is just limited to the surface, but rather is originating from cold and deep Atlantic water being pumped to the surface.

I’d love to see the Argo data of this 4.5 million KM^2 Atlantic cold blob.


Reply to  SAMURAI
May 16, 2020 10:24 pm

You are correct Samurai – the colder deeper water is mixing with the warmer surface, cooling the SST.

May 16, 2020 10:48 am

The German PIK and their Climate Clowns are aware of a coming El Niño
Early warning: Physicists from Giessen, Potsdam and Tel Aviv forecast “El Niño” for 2020

The serious weather phenomenon “El Niño” could soon occur again in the Pacific region. Researchers at Justus Liebig University Giessen (JLU), the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, find that there will probably be another “El Niño” by the end of 2020. The prediction models commonly used do not yet see any signs of this.


May 16, 2020 2:31 am

Told you so – 18 years ago.

The ability to predict is probably the best objective measure of scientific and technical competence. Note that every very-scary prediction of runaway global warming and climate chaos made by the climate alarmists (“warmists”) has failed to materialize. Nobody should believe them – about anything.*

Following are my/our three major statements made in 2002 – the first two statements are correct-to-date, for anyone who understands climate and energy. The warmists, with their “100% wrong predictive track record”, will dispute them. *See note above. 🙂

The third statement is looking more and more probable of occurring as predicted – but I’d rather be wrong about that one – I’m getting old and hate the cold.

Regards, Allan MacRae


In 2002 co-authors Dr Sallie Baliunas, Astrophysicist, Harvard-Smithsonian, Dr Tim Patterson, Paleoclimatologist, Carleton, Ottawa and Allan MacRae wrote:

1. “Climate science does not support the theory of catastrophic human-made global warming – the alleged warming crisis does not exist.”

2. “The ultimate agenda of pro-Kyoto advocates is to eliminate fossil fuels, but this would result in a catastrophic shortfall in global energy supply – the wasteful, inefficient energy solutions proposed by Kyoto advocates simply cannot replace fossil fuels.”

Allan MacRae published in the Calgary Herald on September 1, 2002, based on a conversation with Dr. Tim Patterson:

3. “If [as we believe] solar activity is the main driver of surface temperature rather than CO2, we should begin the next cooling period by 2020 to 2030.”

Allan MacRae modified his global cooling prediction in 2013:

3a. “I suggest global cooling starts by 2020 or sooner. Bundle up.”

For links to the above three statements, see: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/11/28/climate-claim-more-blockbuster-snowstorms-less-snow/#comment-2857912

Stephen Dowsett
May 16, 2020 12:21 pm

In Europe in 1315, slap bang in the middle of the Wolf minimum, manorial and monastic records show that a panzootic killed a large number of sheep and cattle. This coincided with heavy precipitation across Europe from 1314-1317 leading to grain shortages and famine.
Ref: A cattle panzootic A cattle panzootic in early fourteenth-century Europe
by Timothy P. Newfield

May 16, 2020 3:15 pm

The ‘telegraph cables’ of today are satellites. They would probably be wiped out by a Carrington event.

Chauncy Face
May 16, 2020 7:06 pm

I can see that if an 1859 or 1921 type event occurred today we would lose communications and entertainment, but what happens to our houses? They are full of electrical wiring. Does the house shield them sufficiently to prevent their burning up with a massive electro-magnetic surge?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Chauncy Face
May 16, 2020 9:44 pm

I live in the midwest and I have lost the garage door opener, modems, UPS, and other random electronic devices during electrical storms. All of our utilities are underground locally. From my experience I would guess that one can’t predict which appliances would fail, but one can be certain that there would be some losses.

Wayne Job
May 16, 2020 9:43 pm

When I was a young lad some fifty odd years ago,it was my misfortune to see what high voltage can do.
Working night shift I was asleep during daytime and awoken by a huge explosion every light fitting and power points were blown of the walls and ceilings in the entire house.

A tree had fallen on to the 20,000 V line and dropped it on to the 240v line, rolled out of bed to the floor thinking the house was under fire.

Hocus Locus
May 17, 2020 7:14 am

During the Cold War Electromagnetic Pulse was all about nukes designed for that purpose. and of course they work but you have to be directly under them and pretty close for your electronics to fry. … but lately there has been a “surge” of interest in the Carrington Events and its 1921 cousin. and to the great disappointment of those who ask I say it’s no big deal.

A lot has changed since 1859, 1921. In those decades our long-haul communication systems used straight runs of copper wire, perfect long wire antennas such as the telegraph wires along the railroads to gather the solar storm effects and present them at the telegraph office. Without those long wire runs what would they have observed? Nothing. During the Carrington Event there was a notable lack of other phenomena — such as, people experiencing shocks from railings or even discomfort from wearing metal jewelry — that would indicate the presence of the juice to fry stand-alone modern electronics.

Then since, comm systems turned to microwave towers and since the 1980s fiber, telephone copper runs have been retired between central office and neighborhood, cables with hundreds of copper pairs replaced with fiber to small remotes. What copper that remains is very short and pairs have more tight twists to them then the old Bell Telephone specs required (to reject common mode noise and better carry high speed digital signals like DSL). So, gone are the old ‘perfect’ long wire antennas.

The other point of vulnerability is the power grids. But they are specifically designed to withstand lightning surges and transformer failures. I do see disruption happening as a very few transformers that are on the edge of failure today would fail and arcs from them (not the Event itself) trip other circuits, perhaps starting a cascade that could disconnect the grid. But it could be reconnected and restarted after.

May 17, 2020 9:29 am

On 99 year anniversary of huge disruptive solar storm, we are about to enter the deepest period of solar “recession” ever recorded

Well…….. The sun operates on much longer timescales as us humans. 99 years is trivially short for it. 😉

The Other Tex
May 18, 2020 4:52 pm

Svensmark’s hypothetical impact is unlikely to be noticeable in large scale global cloud cover datasets. Where the impacts would likely be seen is in clouds in areas where CCN are the limiting factor on cloud formation, but where there are sulfate aerosols and abundant moisture. In those areas, we should see a measurable response that could be matched to changes in GCR, but how it is seen might be different depending on latitude and how energetic the particles are. From there, the cooling caused by the changes in cloud cover would take time to distribute widely enough to affect “global” temperature estimates, particularly if the clouds are forming over open ocean where the temperature changes are happening in water moreso than air. So it is unlikely that you would see a direct measurable temperature change that would be easily matched up to a measured increase in GCRs. The impact would be more likely to show up in cumulative data smoothed over a period of years and would likely still show some lag depending on where on the planet the cloud changes were taking place.

Chris Butler
May 21, 2020 10:43 am

I posted a link on facebook to an article about solar activity leading to global cooling:

Facebook informed me it was :false information” and over-tagged it with a link to this:

Based on the articles here, the science is unsettled in this area so it seems as if Facebook “fact Checkers” are censoring scientific debate that doesn’t support a particular narrative.

Reply to  Chris Butler
May 21, 2020 1:06 pm

That will be an interesting backdrop when this solar minimum in 2020-21 repeats the cool summer of 2009’s solar minimum (see UAH global temp graph). Only this time around we will not have an El Nino to mask it and AMO temps will also be much lower this time past the long cycle peak. This will surprise even WUWT regulars and UAH experts.

May 21, 2020 4:45 pm

Too bad we don’t have up-to-date solar data charts here at WUWT.
Maybe it’s a ‘green’ conspiracy: Move along…. nothing to see here…
No, nothing historic going on…nothing at all.

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