October 2016 – SPACE – Solar storms threaten Earth about every 100 years and experts warn we are overdue. Now, researchers have released the first ever map that shows which areas of the US are at high risk of being hit by the next intense storm. The map was built using geomagnetic storm measurements and data from magnetic materials beneath the Earth – revealing Minnesota is particularly at risk of being blasted by solar material.
Solar storms have the ability to disrupt Earth’s magnetic field and wreak havoc on our electric power grids. Officials warn that the massive electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from solar flares could cause $2.6 trillion in damages across the globe and bring an end to modern civilization as we know it. Solar Storms are eruptions of magnetic energy from the sun’s surface. Hot gases are accelerated when this magnetic energy is suddenly released and travels quickly towards the Earth. A solar flare’s killer electrons’ can travel at up to several million miles per hour towards Earth.
The latest researcher comes from Jeffrey Love, a geologists with the United States Geological Survey, and his colleagues, who have been working on this project called Space Weather Operations, Research and Mitigation (SWORM) for the past year. This project was first initiated by the White House’s National Science and Technology Council in 2015. Love and his colleagues believe knowing which power grids could be hit the hardest is key for survival, reports Science Alert. To create an accurate map, the team plotted the geomagnetic activity above certain areas and then gathered ground magnetometer data, or magnetotelluric survey.
The geomagnetic data was collected by the International Real-time Magnetic Observatory Network (INTERMAGNET), an organization that monitors Earth’s magnetic field. And the magnetotelluric survey data was taken from the US National Science Foundation’s EarthScope, which monitors electrical conductivity in the ground using hundreds of sensors located across the US. Solar storms could wreak havoc on Earth (pictured) and surges could be up to 100 times more powerful in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin than in other parts of the United States. However, experts say more than half of the US has yet to be plotted due to lack of funding
The US government revealed just last year that they are preparing for a catastrophic solar flare which could wipe out power across the world for months. The last powerful geomagnetic solar storm to hit the earth was in 1859, which caused telegraph lines to explode, setting fire to some telegraph offices, and power to fail across Europe and North America. In today’s far more advanced and technological world, experts the effects would be devastating. The massive electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from solar flares could wipe out power grids, bringing an end to modern civilization as we know it as cell phones, credit cards and the internet were rendered useless. –Daily Mail