Posts Tagged ‘solar’

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Who Will Be There? All-Energy Canada Trade Show and Conference Toronto #AllEnergyCA

02/04/2014

Hello energy enthusiasts, I’m coming back after a long hiatus.  I’m back – back in an All-Energy mood.  Spring is here and the sun’s warmth reminds me how the clean energy landscape in Canada keeps growing – sometimes quickly, sometimes slow. But still growing.

My media creds now official for All-Energy Canada (April 9-10, Direct Energy Centre, Toronto) I get to enjoying supporting several organizations, including the show’s associates. ‘Nuff said.

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Here’s an advance on some of the exhibitors & speakers:

Biomass Innovation Centre

The BIC was established by Nipissing University’s School of Business in the spring of 2009 as a centre for knowledge and support in the development of an expanding clean technology industry.

Working with organizations and individuals to:

  • Identify biomass supply opportunities in the forestry and agricultural sectors.
  • Support projects that transform biomass into fuels and high-value products.
  • Develop market capacity and demand for bio-fuels and bio-refinery products.

Services include education, technical marketing, advocacy and research that spans from the forest to the marketplace. They focus on bridging the information gaps between knowledge and application and are dedicated to educating the industry as a whole.

Fronius Canada

Their technology boasts (solar) “… year-round autonomous energy supply involving photovoltaics was previously only possible by having environmentally-damaging diesel generators to fall back on. Fronius has found a new solution – the Fronius Energy Cell. In future, the energy cell can be used to convert excess energy into hydrogen for storage, converting it back into useful power when needed.”

Chiefs of Ontario

“The Chiefs of Ontario is a political forum and secretariat for collective decision-making, action, and advocacy for the 133 First Nations communities located within the boundaries of the province of Ontario.  Guided by the Chiefs in Assembly, they uphold self-determination efforts of the Anishinaabek, Mushkegowuk, Onkwehonwe, and Lenape Peoples in protecting and exercising their inherent and Treaty rights.   Keeping in mind the wisdom of our Elders, and the future for our youth, we continue to create the path forward in building our Nations as strong, healthy Peoples respectful of ourselves, each other, and all creation.

The activities of the Chiefs of Ontario are mandated through and guided by:

  • Resolutions passed by the Chiefs in Assembly of the 133 First Nations in Ontario
  • The Political Confederacy made up of the Grand Chiefs of Political Territorial Organizations (PTOs) and Independent First Nations
  • The elected Regional Chief for the Chiefs of Ontario”

STEEP Building Systems Canada:

An Ontario based manufacturer of energy efficient structural panels, will display their building product. STEEP panels have been used in scores of large and small buildings built across urban and rural southern Ontario with this quick, durable and cost effective construction technique.

Working with Far North Developments, STEEP Canada will also demonstrate how the construction benefits of STEEP panels can be integrated with renewable energy and storage technology. This approach makes STEEP panel buildings suitable for use as housing, schools and offices in rural, resource based communities and remote First Nation locations.

More speakers (International):

DR. WOODROW (WOODY) CLARK II (Keynote Speaker)
Chief Executive Officer, Clark Strategic Partners/Nobel Peace Prize recipient

A noted lecturer and senior advisor to governments worldwide, Dr. Woodrow Clark was one of the contributing scientists to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UNIPCC), which as an organization was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2007 along with Al Gore and the film An Inconvenient Truth.

Professor Bassim Abassi from Al-Balqa’ Applied University in Jordan, to discuss the use of Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) in the Mediterranean basin (case study).

Donnadelliah Maluleke, Consul Political at the South African Consulate General in Chicago.

More speakers (Canada):

William Lahey, Chairman of Efficiency Nova Scotia, from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, to discuss consumer demand management and saving energy.

Elisa Obermann, Atlantic Director of Marine Renewables Canada, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, will be providing an overview of the Canadian marine energy market.

Matt Jameson, Director of Economic Development from Six Nations of the Grand River, the largest First Nation in Canada.

Martin Damphousse, Mayor of Varennes, Quebec, to discuss their leading role in community energy projects.

This is by no means a complete list.

The Trade Show part is free but you should register.  Please visit by clicking => All-Energy and come out.

Lots of companies to connect with, pose questions, get answers, network and support All Energy in Canada.

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Kudrinko’s Grocery Opens It’s Sustainable Doors to #GEDO13

26/09/2013

The KudrinkosNeil Kudrinko from Kudrinko’s Grocery, Sustainable Building & Busines

Neil Kudrinko from Kudrinko’s Grocery,  Sustainable Building & Business

What were the motivations, or inspirations surrounding how Neil became involved or how Kudrinko’s vision of ‘green’ came to be?

Neil’s main inspiration or his “aha” moment came while at Carleton University.  He gives much credit to Professor Patricia Ballamingie of the Geography and Environmental Studies Department.

“Professor Ballamingie opened my eyes to the possibilities and potential that exists in building efficiencies into our built environment so that our buildings would be more efficient in light of the exterior climate.”

Neil goes on to say that it was very important to look at all the different systems at Kudrinko’s.  HVAC, refrigeration, air quality inside etc. – all these systems had to be made efficient and were done at the same time, in order for the building to gain the maximum investment potential & energy efficiency & savings.

“All of the systems need to work together – in a holistic way.” Neil says.

Neil enjoys being involved, he likes to share information and knowledge, and encourages peers in investing in sustainable building and business practices.

Neil’s Message of Renewable Energy Inspiration

“Your success will only be measure in your desire to make it happen.  Have faith in your understanding of what is possible and go for it.”

Please visit the Kudrinko’s on October 5th for Green Energy Doors Open (click it for the website).

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NASA Selects Science Proposals For Concept Studies – Sun, Milky Way, Earth’s Atmosphere

29/09/2011

PASADENA, Calif. — NASA has selected 11 science proposals, including one from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, for evaluation as potential future science missions. The proposals outline prospective missions to study the Earth’s atmosphere, the sun, the Milky Way galaxy, and Earth-like planets around nearby stars.

The selections were made from responses to Announcements of Opportunity for Explorer Missions and Explorer Missions of Opportunity released by the agency last November. The proposals were judged to have the best science value and feasible development plans.

“NASA continues to seek opportunities to push the cutting edge of science,” said Paul Hertz, chief scientist for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. “Innovative proposals like these will help us better understand our solar system and the universe.”

Five Explorer Mission proposals were selected from 22 submitted in February. Each team will receive $1 million to conduct an 11-month mission concept study. Mission costs are capped at $200 million each, excluding the launch vehicle. In addition, one Explorer Mission proposal was selected for technology development and will receive $600,000. Five Mission of Opportunity proposals were selected from 20 submissions. Each will receive $250,000 to conduct an 11-month implementation concept study. Mission costs are capped at $55 million each.

Following the detailed mission concept studies, NASA plans to select up to two of the Explorer Mission proposals and one or more of the five Mission of Opportunity proposals in February 2013. The missions would then proceed toward flight and some could launch by 2016.

The selected Explorer Mission proposals are:

-Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) Thomas Immel, Principal Investigator (PI), University of California, Berkeley — The mission would fly instruments to understand the extreme variability in our Earth’s ionosphere, which can interfere with communications and geopositioning signals.

-Fast INfrared Exoplanet Spectroscopy Survey Explorer (FINESSE) Mark Swain, PI, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. — This proposal would use a space telescope to survey more than 200 planets around other stars. This would be the first mission dedicated to finding out what comprises exoplanet atmospheres, what conditions or processes are responsible for their composition, and how our solar system fits into the larger family of planets.

-Observatory for Heteroscale Magnetosphere-Ionosphere Coupling (OHMIC) James Burch, PI, Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio — The mission would use a pair of spacecraft flying in formation to study the processes that provide energy to power space weather storms. These storms create auroras and other electromagnetic activity that can impact orbiting spacecraft operations.

-Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) George Ricker, PI, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass. — Using an array of telescopes, TESS would perform an all-sky survey to discover transiting exoplanets, ranging from Earth-sized to gas giants, in orbit around the nearest and brightest stars in the sky. The mission’s primary goal would be to identify terrestrial planets in the habitable zones of nearby stars.

-Atmosphere-Space Transition Region Explorer (ASTRE) Robert Pfaff Jr., PI, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. — The mission would study the interaction between the Earth’s atmosphere and the ionized gases of space. By flying excursions deep into the Earth’s upper atmosphere, its measurements would improve satellite drag models and show how space-induced currents in electric power grids originate and evolve with time.

The selected Explorer Mission of Opportunity proposals are:

-Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) Richard Eastes, PI, University of Central Florida, Orlando — This would involve an imaging instrument that would fly on a commercial communications satellite in geostationary orbit to image the Earth’s thermosphere and ionosphere.

-Neutron star Interior Composition ExploreR (NICER) Keith Gendreau, PI, Goddard — This mission would place an X ray timing instrument on the International Space Station (ISS) to explore the exotic states of matter within neutron stars and reveal their interior and surface compositions.

-Coronal Physics Investigator (CPI) John Kohl, PI, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Cambridge — A solar telescope would be mounted on the ISS to investigate the processes that produce the sun’s fast and slow solar wind.

-Gal/Xgal U/LDB Spectroscopic/Stratospheric THz Observatory (GUSSTO) Christopher Walker, PI, University of Arizona, Tucson — This mission would launch a high altitude balloon with a one-meter telescope to provide a comprehensive understanding of the inner workings of our Milky Way galaxy and one of our galaxy’s companion galaxies, the Large Magellanic Cloud.

-Ion Mass Spectrum Analyzer for SCOPE (IMSA), Lynn Kistler PI, University of New Hampshire, Durham — This partner mission of opportunity would provide a composition instrument to the Japanese cross-Scale Coupling in the Plasma universE (SCOPE) mission. SCOPE will study fundamental space plasma processes including particle acceleration, magnetic reconnection, and plasma turbulence.

The proposal selected for technology development funding is:

-The Exoplanetary Circumstellar Environments and Disk Explorer (EXCEDE), Glenn Schneider, PI, University of Arizona, Tucson – The technology development effort will enable studies of the formation, evolution, and architectures of exoplanetary systems through direct imaging.

The Explorer program is the oldest continuous program at NASA. It is designed to provide frequent, low-cost access to space using PI-led space science investigations relevant to the agency’s astrophysics and heliophysics programs. Initiated with the Explorer 1 launch in 1958 that discovered the Earth’s radiation belts and including the Cosmic Background Explorer mission that led to Nobel prizes for their investigators, the Explorer program has launched more than 90 missions. It is managed by Goddard for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information about the Explorer program, visit: http://explorers.gsfc.nasa.gov .

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

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Volcano, Lava Flows, Storm, Fire, Cyclone, Hurricane: Earth Satellite Images September 2011

29/09/2011
September has been a month filled with much earthly activity.  Cleveland, Etna, El Hierro just to name a few volcanoes. Earthquakes in places most don’t expect like Virginia and the North West Territories. Swarms of other seismic activity. Fog, hurricanes, typhoons. Throw in a little solar cycle high.  Earth. What an awesome machine.

The following is your connection to NASA satellite images of many of these events for September 2011.  Enjoy.

Fires Near Alice Springs, Australia

September 29, 2011
Fires Near Alice Springs, Australia
Ash and Lava Flows at Nabro Volcano
September 28, 2011
Ash and Lava Flows at Nabro Volcano
Dust Storm in the Middle East
September 28, 2011
Dust Storm in the Middle East
Typhoon Nesat
September 28, 2011
Typhoon Nesat
Fires in Australia
September 27, 2011
Fires in Australia
Flooding in India
September 27, 2011
Flooding in India
Fires in Queensland, Australia
September 26, 2011
Fires in Queensland, Australia
Mid-Latitude Cyclone over the United States
September 26, 2011
Mid-Latitude Cyclone over the United States
Hurricane Hilary
September 24, 2011
Hurricane Hilary
Dust off Western Africa
September 23, 2011
Dust off Western Africa
Typhoon Nesat
September 23, 2011
Typhoon Nesat
Fog over Lake Baikal
September 22, 2011
Fog over Lake Baikal
Flooding in Southern Pakistan
September 21, 2011
Flooding in Southern Pakistan
 Typhoon Roke
September 20, 2011
Typhoon Roke
Typhoon Roke
September 19, 2011
Typhoon Roke
Puyehue-Cordón Caulle
September 17, 2011
Puyehue-Cordón Caulle
Dust over the Red Sea
September 15, 2011
Dust over the Red Sea
Riley Road Fire
September 14, 2011
Riley Road Fire
Bastrop County Complex Fire Burn Scar
September 12, 2011
Bastrop County Complex Fire Burn Scar
Pagami Creek Fire in Minnesota
September 12, 2011
Pagami Creek Fire in Minnesota
Riley Road burn scar
September 12, 2011
Riley Road burn scar
Sediment Plumes in the Hudson River
September 12, 2011
Sediment Plumes in the Hudson River
Flooding in India
September 11, 2011
Flooding in India
Flooding in Southern Pakistan
September 11, 2011
Flooding in Southern Pakistan
Bloom in the Barents Sea
September 10, 2011
Bloom in the Barents Sea
Muddy Susquehanna in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
September 10, 2011
Muddy Susquehanna in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Bear Creek Fire
September 9, 2011
Bear Creek Fire
High Cascades Complex, Oregon
September 9, 2011
High Cascades Complex, Oregon
Tropical Storm Nate
September 9, 2011
Tropical Storm Nate
Dust over the Red Sea
September 8, 2011
Dust over the Red Sea
Lava Flows and Volcanic Plume on Etna
September 8, 2011
Lava Flows and Volcanic Plume on Etna
Fresh Lava Flows at Pu’u O’o
September 7, 2011
Fresh Lava Flows at Pu’u O’o
Hurricane Katia
September 7, 2011
Hurricane Katia
 Tropical Storm Lee
September 7, 2011
Tropical Storm Lee
Texas Wildfires
September 6, 2011
Texas Wildfires
Wildfire Smoke Plumes over Texas
September 6, 2011
Wildfire Smoke Plumes over Texas
Hurricane Katia
September 5, 2011
Hurricane Katia
Lava Flow on Kizimen Volcano
September 5, 2011
Lava Flow on Kizimen Volcano
Dust Storm in Argentina
September 4, 2011
Dust Storm in Argentina
Flooding in Southern Pakistan
September 4, 2011
Flooding in Southern Pakistan
Hurricane Katia
September 4, 2011
Hurricane Katia
101 Ranch Fire Burn ScarSeptember 3, 2011
101 Ranch Fire Burn Scar
Dust over the Mediterranean SeaSeptember 2, 2011
Dust over the Mediterranean Sea
Fires in BoliviaSeptember 2, 2011
Fires in Bolivia
Hurricane KatiaSeptember 2, 2011
Hurricane Katia
 Sediment Spews from Connecticut River
September 2, 2011
Sediment Spews from Connecticut River
Tropical Storm Lee
September 2, 2011
Tropical Storm Lee
Tropical Storm Talas
September 2, 2011
Tropical Storm Talas
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NOAA Report on Solar Geomagnetic Storm that Partially Hit Earth – Coinciding with Earthquake & Volcano Activity

27/09/2011

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration has been reporting on high solar activity for the past while.  Here is the news for the past 3 days, updated today.  It is important to note that the September 26th report emphasizes that “aurora watchers in Asia and Europe will be favourably positioned” and we now have had reports of much earthquake and volcanic activity, most notably the swarms in Spain (see El Hierro Volcano Article), Greece and Turkey, as well as the ones around the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, (see Cleveland Volcano Article) as well as the 5.3 MAG that hit the North West Territories (see 4 Significant Quakes/NWT Article). There are many more places that have been affected – all along the Pacific Ring of Fire.  Drop in news of earthquake drills and we have a bit of a rocky road perhaps ahead (see Earthquake Drill in US, NZ, BC Article)? (Hey, I’m just saying, but what do I know?)

If you would like to see what an Aurora looks like from space, here is a video take from the International Space Station around September 19th 2011 and its quite spectacular to see.  The path taken here is eastwardly from Madagascar along to northeast Australia, hence the term ‘aurora australis’. Aurora borealis north & aurora australis south hemisphere.

REPORTS FROM NOAA – PAST 3 DAYS

2011-09-27 17:33   Update on the September 26/27 Geomagnetic Storm

The Geomagnetic Storm that began yesterday is quieting down, though we aren’t quite back to quiet conditions yet.  High speed solar wind is coming in behind the Coronal Mass Ejection and these winds are keeping things slightly active on the space weather front.  The region on the Sun that produced this activity is in a favorable position to cause further problems, but it is starting to weaken.  It remains a threat, though diminishing.  Yesterday, there would have been problems with high accuracy GPS and there was a noted issue with the FAA’s Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS), where the Vertical Error Limit was exceeded.  WAAS is used to provide high accuracy GPS in the areas around airports.  Much more information about this storm is available on the SWPC Facebook page.

2011-09-26 19:00   

The fast Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) that erupted from NOAA Active Region 1302 arrived this morning at 1237Z (8:37am Eastern Time).  It has kicked off moderate (G2) geomagnetic storms for low latitudes, but high latitudes are seeing severe (G4) levels of activity.  Aurora watchers in Asia and Europe are most favorably positioned for this event, though it may persist long enough for viewers in North America.  The bulk of the CME missed the Earth, meaning the storm intensity and duration are less than what they would have been in the case of a direct hit.  We are posting frequent updates on the SWPC Facebook page, which you can follow (here).

2011-09-24 22:00   

NOAA Region 1302 remains impressive and active as it continues its transit across the visible disc.  As shown in the GOES X-ray plot below, 1302 produced an R3 (Strong) and multiple R2 (Moderate) flares today.  Intermittent degradation to High Frequency communications occurs on the daylight side of the Earth during each respective flare.  Also, the slow rise of energetic protons near Earth has flattened out and we are hovering right around the S1 threshold (NOAA Solar Radiation Storm Scales).  A fairly fast Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) associated with the long duration R2 flare is partially directed at Earth (long duration meaning long-lasting in time and wider in the graph below, as opposed to the impulsive flares that spike quickly).  We won?t see the bulk of this CME, but a glancing blow is predicted for late evening Eastern Time on the 25th (or right around start of day GMT on the 26th).  Geomagnetic Storm levels reaching the G1 (Minor) level are likely with isolated G2 (Moderate) possible, particularly at high latitudes.  1302 remains active so stay tuned for further updates.

source: NOAA

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Extra Energy Can Have a Big Effect on Earth – Secret Lives of Solar Flares

19/09/2011

Sept. 19, 2011 via NASAScience: One hundred and fifty two years ago, a man in England named Richard Carrington discovered solar flares.

Secret Lives (sunspots, 200px)

Sunspots sketched by
R. Carrington on Sept. 1, 1859.
© R. Astronomical Society.

[more]

It happened at 11:18 AM on the cloudless morning of Thursday, September 1st, 1859. Just as usual on every sunny day, the 33-year-old solar astronomer was busy in his private observatory, projecting an image of the sun onto a screen and sketching what he saw. On that particular morning, he traced the outlines of an enormous group of sunspots. Suddenly, before his eyes, two brilliant beads of white light appeared over the sunspots; they were so bright he could barely stand to look at the screen.

Carrington cried out, but by the time a witness arrived minutes later, the first solar flare anyone had ever seen was fading away.

It would not be the last. Since then, astronomers have recorded thousands of strong flares using instruments ranging from the simplest telescopes in backyard observatories to the most complex spectrometers on advanced spacecraft.  Possibly no other phenomenon in astronomy has been studied as much.

After all that scrutiny, you might suppose that everything about solar flares would be known.  Far from it.  Researchers recently announced that solar flares have been keeping a secret.

“We’ve just learned that some flares are many times stronger than previously thought,” says University of Colorado physicist Tom Woods who led the research team. “Solar flares were already the biggest explosions in the solar system—and this discovery makes them even bigger.”

Secret Lives (splash, 558px)

Click to view a ScienceCast video about the late phase of solar flares. [Youtube]

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), launched in February 2010, made the finding:  About 1 in 7 flares experience an “aftershock.”  About ninety minutes after the flare dies down, it springs to life again, producing an extra surge of extreme ultraviolet radiation.

“We call it the ‘late phase flare,’” says Woods.   “The energy in the late phase can exceed the energy of the primary flare by as much as a factor of four.”

What causes the late phase? Solar flares happen when the magnetic fields of sunspots erupt—a process called “magnetic reconnection.”  The late phase is thought to result when some of the sunspot’s magnetic loops re-form.  A diagram prepared by team member Rachel Hock of the University of Colorado shows how it works.

The extra energy from the late phase can have a big effect on Earth.  Extreme ultraviolet wavelengths are particularly good at heating and ionizing Earth’s upper atmosphere.  When our planet’s atmosphere is heated by extreme UV radiation, it puffs up, accelerating the decay of low-orbiting satellites.  Furthermore, the ionizing action of extreme UV can bend radio signals and disrupt the normal operation of GPS.

SDO was able to make the discovery because of its unique ability to monitor the sun’s extreme UV output in high resolution nearly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  With that kind of scrutiny, it’s tough to keep a secret–even one as old as this.

The original research of Woods et al may be found in the Oct. 1, 2011, issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

Author: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: Science@NASA

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Could The Sun Set Off The Next Big Natural Disaster? | Smithsonian News

16/09/2011

The article posted below, published a couple of days ago, is from Smithsonian Magazine, and offers another perspective for the reasons why Earth is going through some highly undeniable shake ups, hurricanes, volcanic activity, floods, droughts and more.

Irregardless of anyone’s arguments, climate change, not climate change, man-made or some cosmic outside influence, the facts remain clear.  The great machine known as Earth is doing something. And we are all guessing at what.

It is here I would like to make it clear that its not just one thing or another really.  It’s a whole collective combination of many things which can be compared to how things come to be.  It’s like, without the right amount of chemicals here, applied under the right atmospheric & all conceivable scientific forces, we would not exist. And the Earth changes, the increase in seismic, volcanic etc. events in the world are a result of many things.

The sun’s forces, other external forces & a whole wack of polluting money hungry corporations.  A cocktail for global disaster.

Pack up the survival gear.  It’s gonna get bumpy.

But what do I know?

Original article:

Could The Sun Set Off The Next Big Natural Disaster?

It can take a long time to clean up from natural disasters. New Orleans still had remnants of Katrina damage years after the storm barreled through. Hundreds of thousands of people are still homeless in Haiti, more than a year and a half after its earthquake. Areas of Japan may be off limits for years due to the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster at Fukushima.

But as bad as these events might be, they are at least limited geographically. But that probably won’t be true when it comes to a severe solar storm, say scientists in a new study in Space Weather. Before I go into that, though, let’s first review what I mean by solar storms. These are explosions on the Sun that send energized particles out into space. If Earth is in the way of a mild outburst, we get pretty auroras at the poles. But more violent events can have bigger impacts, as Robert Irion noted earlier this year in his Smithsonian story “Something New Under the Sun“:

The most intense solar storm ever recorded struck in the summer of 1859. British astronomer Richard Carrington observed a giant network of sunspots on September 1, followed by the most intense flare ever reported. Within 18 hours, Earth was under magnetic siege. Dazzling northern lights glowed as far south as the Caribbean Sea and Mexico, and sparking wires shut down telegraph networks—the Internet of the day—across Europe and North America.

A magnetic storm in 1921 knocked out the signaling system for New York City’s rail lines. A solar storm in March 1989 crippled the power grid in Quebec, depriving millions of customers of electricity for nine hours. And in 2003, a series of storms caused blackouts in Sweden, destroyed a $640 million Japanese science satellite and forced airlines to divert flights away from the North Pole at a cost of $10,000 to $100,000 each.

Our modern, globally connected electronic society is now so reliant on far-flung transformers and swarms of satellites that a major blast from the Sun could bring much of it down. According to a 2008 report from the National Research Council, a solar storm the size of the 1859 or 1921 events could zap satellites, disable communication networks and GPS systems and fry power grids at a cost of $1 trillion or more.

These storms are getting more attention in recent months because the Sun has left its solar minimum—its time of least activity—and there are still three to five years until it reaches solar maximum. And although a host of satellites are now watching the Sun, leading to new insight into its activity and, eventually, better warnings of devastating storms, our technological society is still disturbingly vulnerable.

Back to the Space Weather study: Researchers from UCLA and elsewhere used simulations of solar storms to examine what would happen to the Earth’s inner radiation belt, a region of charged particles that surrounds the planet and acts as a buffer against radiation. They found that a storm the intensity of the 2003 event would halve the thickness of the radiation belt and one the size of the 1859 event would nearly wipe it out. And that would just be the beginning of the problem, New Scientist explains:

In the absence of the cloud, electromagnetic waves [would accelerate] large numbers of electrons to high speed in Earth’s inner radiation belt, causing a huge increase in radiation there. The inner radiation belt is densest at about 3000 kilometres above Earth’s equator, which is higher than low-Earth orbit. But the belt hugs Earth more tightly above high latitude regions, overlapping with satellites in low-Earth orbit.

Speeding electrons [would] cause electric charge to accumulate on satellite electronics, prompting sparks and damage. Increasing the number of speeding electrons would drastically shorten the lifetime of a typical satellite, the team calculates.

The satellite-damaging radiation could hang around for a decade, the scientists say. In addition, the radiation could also be hazardous for astronauts and equipment on the International Space Station.

source: smithsonianmag

Could The Sun Set Off The Next Big Natural Disaster? | Surprising Science.

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