The Great Solar Storm of February 2011


According to the BBC News, three solar flares erupted on the suns surface over the past couple days, and its aftereffects (charged particles) are on the way down to earth. China has already reported they are currently already experiencing jammed shortwave radio communication on the Southern part of the country.

“The sun does blast charged particles and x-rays to the earth,” says Christine Pulliam, a Public affairs specialist for the Center for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “And if there was a really strong one, it could effect the magnetic field and cause ground currents, knock out electric grids, and fry satellites.”

Our technology is vulnerable to these occurrences, but it would take something a lot stronger than anything we’ve experienced before to cause the mass effects touted in various motion pictures. What we can expect over the next two days are a particularly dazzling display of northern lights for stargazers, a possible disruption in power grids, GPS (navigation systems), and communication satellites.

Our sun goes through stormy periods every couple of years. The last time a solar eruption knocked out power to millions of people was in Quebec, Canada, in 1989. Currently we are experiencing a calm period, but solar storms should be escalating over the next three years, according to scientists.

The earth’s outer magnetosphere normally protects the earth from these storms, but due to the gradual magnetic pole shift we’re experiencing, that field is weaker than normal, causing the earth’s surface to be more vulnerable. With current technology, we unfortunately have only a 24 hour advanced notice for these types of storms.



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