A Perfect Solar Superstorm: The 1859 Carrington Event

A Perfect Solar Superstorm: The 1859 Carrington Event


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The Carrington Event
On the morning of September 1, 1859, amateur astronomer Richard Carrington ascended into the private observatory attached to his country estate outside of London. After cranking open the dome’s shutter to reveal the clear blue sky, he pointed his brass telescope toward the sun and began to sketch a cluster of enormous dark spots that freckled its surface. Suddenly, Carrington spotted what he described as “two patches of intensely bright and white light” erupting from the sunspots. Five minutes later the fireballs vanished, but within hours their impact would be felt across the globe.

That night, telegraph communications around the world began to fail; there were reports of sparks showering from telegraph machines, shocking operators and setting papers ablaze. All over the planet, colorful auroras illuminated the nighttime skies, glowing so brightly that birds began to chirp and laborers started their daily chores, believing the sun had begun rising. Some thought the end of the world was at hand, but Carrington’s naked eyes had spotted the true cause for the bizarre happenings: a massive solar flare with the energy of 10 billion atomic bombs. The flare spewed electrified gas and subatomic particles toward Earth, and the resulting geomagnetic storm—dubbed the “Carrington Event”—was the largest on record to have struck the planet.

Bright Flare, Dark Lines
Compared to today’s information superhighway, the telegraph system in 1859 may have been a mere dirt road, but the “Victorian Internet” was also a critical means of transmitting news, sending private messages and engaging in commerce. Telegraph operators in the United States had observed local interruptions due to thunderstorms and northern lights before, but they never experienced a global disturbance like the one-two punch they received in the waning days of summer in 1859.

Many telegraph lines across North America were rendered inoperable on the night of August 28 as the first of two successive solar storms struck. E.W. Culgan, a telegraph manager in Pittsburgh, reported that the resulting currents flowing through the wires were so powerful that platinum contacts were in danger of melting and “streams of fire” were pouring forth from the circuits. In Washington, D.C., telegraph operator Frederick W. Royce was severely shocked as his forehead grazed a ground wire. According to a witness, an arc of fire jumped from Royce’s head to the telegraphic equipment. Some telegraph stations that used chemicals to mark sheets reported that powerful surges caused telegraph paper to combust.

On the morning of September 2, the magnetic mayhem resulting from the second storm created even more chaos for telegraph operators. When American Telegraph Company employees arrived at their Boston office at 8 a.m., they discovered it was impossible to transmit or receive dispatches. The atmosphere was so charged, however, that operators made an incredible discovery: They could unplug their batteries and still transmit messages to Portland, Maine, at 30- to 90-second intervals using only the auroral current. Messages still couldn’t be sent as seamlessly as under normal conditions, but it was a useful workaround. By 10 a.m. the magnetic disturbance abated enough that stations reconnected their batteries, but transmissions were still affected for the rest of the morning.

Sky on Fire
When telegraphs did come back on line, many were filled with vivid accounts of the celestial light show that had been witnessed the night before. Newspapers from France to Australia featured glowing descriptions of brilliant auroras that had turned night into day. One eyewitness account from a woman on Sullivan’s Island in South Carolina ran in the Charleston Mercury: “The eastern sky appeared of a blood red color. It seemed brightest exactly in the east, as though the full moon, or rather the sun, were about to rise. It extended almost to the zenith. The whole island was illuminated. The sea reflected the phenomenon, and no one could look at it without thinking of the passage in the Bible which says, ‘the sea was turned to blood.’ The shells on the beach, reflecting light, resembled coals of fire.”

The sky was so crimson that many who saw it believed that neighboring locales were on fire. Americans in the South were particularly startled by the northern lights, which migrated so close to the equator that they were seen in Cuba and Jamaica. Elsewhere, however, there appeared to be genuine confusion. In Abbeville, South Carolina, masons awoke and began to lay bricks at their job site until they realized the hour and returned to bed. In Bealeton, Virginia, larks were stirred from their sleep at 1 a.m. and began to warble. (Unfortunately for them, a conductor on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad was also awake and shot three of them dead.) In cities across America, people stood in the streets and gazed up at the heavenly pyrotechnics. In Boston, some even caught up on their reading, taking advantage of the celestial fire to peruse the local newspapers.

Ice core samples have determined that the Carrington Event was twice as big as any other solar storm in the last 500 years. What would be the impact of a similar storm today? According to a 2008 report from the National Academy of Sciences, it could cause “extensive social and economic disruptions” due to its impact on power grids, satellite communications and GPS systems. The potential price tag? Between $1 trillion and $2 trillion.


Colliding Solar Eruptions Created 'Perfect Storm' in Space

When two blasts of super-hot plasma from the sun slammed into each other in 2012, they forged a "perfect storm" of space weather so intense, it was stronger than the most powerful solar eruption in the history of the space age, scientists say.

A new study of the solar superstorm, which occurred on July 22 and 23, 2012, as formed by the interactions of two individual coronal mass ejections (CMEs), is providing insights into space weather events with the potential to disrupt life on Earth. You can see a video of the perfect solar storm here, as seen by NASA's twin STEREO spacecraft.

An international team led by Ying Liu of the National Space Science Center in Beijing studied images of the storm captured by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), which is operated jointly by NASA and the European Space Agency, and NASA's two Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) satellites. [The Sun's Wrath: Worst Solar Storms in History]

"An extreme space weather storm is rare by definition, but may not be as rare as we imagine," Liu told Space.com via email.

The perfect storm

During the July 2012 solar superstorm, the sun hurled not two shots into space in rapid succession, following a third earlier emission. The eruptions, which occurred on the far side of the sun and didn't pass near Earth, interacted with one another to form what Liu called a perfect storm.

A coronal mass ejection occurs when the sun blasts a huge cloud of charged plasma into space. The energy and speed of a CME depends on the active region, or sunspot, from which it originates. By the time a CME reaches Earth's orbit, its speed has been further influenced by its trip through space.

In order for two CMEs to create an extreme space weather storm, they must occur in quick succession, interacting with one another as close to the sun as possible. These powerful ejections expand as they travel through space, but their colliding magnetic fields can inhibit their growth.

"For two CMEs to react, they don't have to travel along exactly the same path," Liu said. "As long as the difference between their paths is smaller than their width, they are likely to interact."

To make a perfect storm, a third large CME must have occurred earlier to minimize the effects of the solar wind on the later pair the interacting CME pair essentially drafts the earlier eruption much as a race car driver drafts a vehicle i, researchers said.

With the path cleared before them, the combined CME would travel toward Earth much quicker than the average time of three to four days. The 2012 event was one of the fastest-traveling solar storms measured at the time, zipping through space at approximately 5 million mph (8 million km/h). Fast storms can generate a shock in interplanetary space, producing energetic particles and radio bursts.

The electric field formed by Earth-directed CMEs and superstorms interacts with our planet's magnetic field. The product of the interaction determines the strength of the storm, with a larger product resulting in a more intense event.

Collisions between two CMEs are common farther from the sun, where expanding ejections allow for interactions that aren't possible when the plasma is more compressed while closer to the sun.

And powerful storms can still occur even when the ejections aren't rapid-fire. As the first CME clears the path for plasma traveling in its wake, each subsequent ejection is able to travel faster, potentially catching up to the preceding one, though not creating perfect storms.

The sun oscillates between solar maximum and solar minimum every 11 years, with increased activity occurring during solar max. On average, the sun emits one CME every other day during its quiet period, and up to 3 a day during its most active. The 2012 event occurred during a historically weak solar cycle with a 2013 maximum, implying that such events may be more common than previously considered, researchers said. [Best Solar Storm Photos of 2014 (Gallery)]

The new study was published online today (March 18) in the journal Nature Communications.

Charged material streaming from the sun can have devastating effects when it collides with Earth. In small doses, particles from the sun interacting with the planet's magnetic field can create beautiful auroral displays, which are also known as the northern and southern lights. In large doses, the results are not nearly as pretty.

The most powerful recorded geomagnetic storm occurred in 1859. Known as the Carrington event, the solar storm caused aurorae to shine brightly over the Rocky Mountains and be seen in Cuba and Hawaii. Some telegraph machines continued to send and receive messages despite being disconnected from their power source, and several operators reported receiving electric shocks.

On March 13, 1989, a powerful magnetic storm connected with Earth in the strongest recorded single storm of the space age. Primed by a disturbance in the solar wind, the space weather caused the collapse of Canada's Hydro-Quebec power grid and the loss of electricity for millions of people for up to nine hours. This event was only one-third as powerful as the Carrington event.

With the enormous electric infrastructure spanning the world today, a storm as powerful as the Carrington event would like have devastating effects if it struck now. The cost of extreme space weather can reach up to $1 trillion, with a potential recovery time of four to 10 years when cascading socioeconomic effects are considered, according to the National Research Council Space Studies Board in the United States. Single storms can also wreak havoc with satellites, GPS systems, and power grids.

The devastating potential of perfect solar storms underscores the need to study and better understand them, along with the less powerful single spawns that drive them, scientists say.


The Carrington Event

Solar storm of 1859 – Wikipedia, the free
encyclopedia
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia The solar storm of 1859, also known as
the 1859
Solar Superstorm, or the Carrington Event, was a powerful solar storm

Effects of an 1859 Carrington Event today
Jun 8, 2011 Just how bad could a
Carrington Event be for our electrical and electronic
infrastructure,
worst case scenario?http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

A Super Solar Flare – NASA Science
Sep 20, 2011 “In the 160-year record of
geomagnetic storms, the Carrington event is the
biggest.” It’s
possible to delve back even farther in time by examining

Solar storm of 1859 – The Carrington Event
[link to en.wikipedia.org] The Carrington
event
of 1859 – the largest solar flare
ever recorded (short documentary
video on the event)

1:40The Carrington event of 1859 – the largest solar flare ever recorded.

Uploaded by origsillywilly on Feb 11, 2012

Just before noon on September 1st 1859, the British astronomer Richard Carrington witnessed the largest solar flare ever recorded. The solar flare ejected a plasma cloud that traveled from the surface of the Sun for just over eighteen hours before finally reaching the Earth. As the dawn broke on September 1 1859, the skies all over planet Earth erupted in red, green, and purple lights so brilliant that newspapers could be read as if it were daylight. Stunning northern lights pulsated at the tropical latitudes over Cuba, the Bahamas, and Jamaica. Telegraph systems worldwide went haywire. Spark discharges shocked telegraph operators and set the telegraph paper on fire. Even when the telegraph operators disconnected the batteries powering the lines, electric currents in the wires still allowed messages to be transmitted. A sun storm of this sort today could cause billions of dollars of damage to the Earth’s satellites and terrestrial power grids. And disrupt radio and cell phone communications. In the 160-year recorded history of geomagnetic storms, the Carrington event is the biggest.

8:50The Perfect Solar Storm & the Carrington

Uploaded by littlejimmy95on Oct 2, 2011

The Perfect Solar Storm and the Carrington Event – PREPARE for all POSSIBLITIES. As we see a massive Solar Storm today complete with HUGE X CLASS flares and CMEs errupting off the sun and already headed to earth – what can we expect? The Carrington event took 18 hours to reach Earth! Watch this History Channel doco and take notes!


“Silkeries of the Skies”: The Solar Superstorm of 1859

Last night one of the most magnificent atmospheric exhibitions that have ever been witnessed in this latitude took place. A display of the aurora borealis of surpassing extent and beauty occupied the heavens, producing the most singular effects, and exciting the admiration and awe of the thousands that witnessed the wondrous sight.

This article, first published in the New York Evening Post, was reporting on what we know today as the solar storm of 1859. This massive storm, the largest of its kind on record, would also become known as the Carrington Event after British astronomer Richard Carrington who made some of the earliest astronomical observations of the solar flare. The flare and resulting geomagnetic storm of 1859 produced auroras seen around the world.

Headlined “Remarkable Atmospheric Phenomena—The Scenery of the Heavens,” the report continues:

To the east and to the west lay huge fields of luminous clouds, tinted with a bright rosy flush, wholly unlike that produced by the rising sun, and, if possible, even more beautiful. For some ten minutes this climax remained. The ruby crown, gemmed and fringed by sparkling stars, retained its proud position in the zenith, and the tremulous waves of light floated and quivered downwards like some imperial train waved by the cool night winds. At times it suggested a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, bound at the wrist with a bracelet of ruby and diamond, with the open palm held as if in benediction over the earth, while the fingers of light reached almost to the distant horizon.

On the following day the Providence Evening Press wrote:

Between 12 and 1 o’clock this morning the heavens were illuminated with a display which was in no respect inferior to the magnificent phenomenon of Sunday night. In the north, northeast and northwest at first there was a light like that of the full moon, and showing everything in the streets as plainly. This light seemed to come in waves, differing in magnitude, velocity and color. At some moments the sky was as deeply crimsoned as on Sunday. At 1 1-2 o’clock, the strange light showed from all points of the compass, and the deep crimson cloud floating in the south as well as in the north, and the magnetic beams radiated from the zenith, and every moment was unlike the last. A chilly wind was blowing from the north.

On Sept. 7 the Alexandria Gazette reprinted an article first published in the Boston Journal titled “Cause of the Aurora Borealis,” recounting various explanations for the phenomena:

This is yet an undecided question. Some have ascribed the appearance to solar light refracted in the higher regions of the air, others to the agency of the magnetic fluid.—Euler imagined it to proceed from the same ether which formed the tails of comets Mairan conceived it to arise from the mixture of the atmosphere of the sun with that of the earth: but when the properties of electric light became known, and when its appearance in rarefied air had been observed, all these hypotheses were by common consent abandoned, and little doubt was entertained that, whatever be the details of the natural process by which it was produced, the aurora borealis was the effect of atmospheric electricity. This is confirmed by the disturbance of the wires of the electric telegraph during auroral displays, which frequently entirely interrupts communication.

The Daily Ohio Statesman, in “The Aurora Borealis Problem Solved,” also offered previously held explanations before confirming the effect of a “disturbance of the wires”:

On Sunday night and Monday morning there was an unusually brilliant exhibition of the Aurora Borealis, which covered one half of the Northern heavens from East to West. This mysterious light has ever puzzled natural philosophers, who have advanced the most contradictory explanations for the phenomena. Some have ascribed them to the retraction of the sun’s rays from Arctic Icebergs others have believed that the refraction is from Northern ice or snow, and the tremulous motion to be caused by the perpetual vibrations of the earth’s atmosphere but the magnetic telegraph has solved the problem. On Sunday evening, when the sky was perfectly clear, and stars shining and the wind still, the only unusual appearance being the reddening of the Northern and Eastern heavens, one of the operators in the Harrisburgh [sic] office chanced to touch the wire and was thrown, by the violence of a shock which he received, across the room.

Following a spectacular description of the aurora, the Salem Register provided additional information about the occurrence.

The effect upon telegraphing has been frequently observed, particularly by the operators….The atmospheric electricity generated during thunder storms passes from the wire emitting a bright spark, and a sound like the snapping of a pistol, never remaining long upon the wires. But the electricity produced by the aurora passes along the wires in a continuous stream with not sudden discharge—effecting the same result as that by the galvanic battery.

In the days after the Carrington Event the Boston Traveller published a transcript of the first conversation transmitted by the auroral current, the dialogue between the Boston and Portland operators was reprinted in the Sept. 6 edition of the Alexandria Gazette.

The Gazette article continues:

The wire was than (sic) worked for about two hours without the usual batteries, on the auroral current, working better than with the batteries connected. The current varied, increasing and decreasing alternately, but, by graduating the adjustment to the current, a sufficiently steady effect was obtained to work the line very well.

The New York Herald, on Sept. 5, reported on the phenomena and offered this reassurance:

Many timid and superstitious persons, even among the most enlightened classes of the community, are seriously apprehensive that the grand exhibitions of the northern lights, with which the skies have been nightly illuminated all last week, were portentous omens of some terrible event that is about to befall the world. It is an old superstition revived, or rather one that has never died out. From the most remote ages of human existence atmospheric phenomena have been always linked and connected, at least in imagination, with calamities.

The Herald article describes a number of historical calamities attributed to displays of the aurora and eventually offers a suggestion of how to discover the true cause of the light show:

As philosophers are unable to solve the problem, why do not the aeronauts try it?…Suppose that…they would ascend in their balloons and try to get a glimpse of the foundation line of the aurora borealis. We recommend them to try it some of these evenings. They can at least give us grand descriptions of the prospects aloft, and perhaps enable us to decide the great question whether they are nothing more than silkeries of the skies.

As the Harrisburg telegraph operator who was thrown across the room could attest, solar flares and storms of a magnitude similar to the Carrington Event are far more than “silkeries of the skies.” They have the potential to cause significant disruptions to satellites, electrical grids, and computer systems. In July 2012 a Carrington-class solar superstorm narrowly missed the Earth, crossing our orbit at a point we had occupied only days before. Some estimates suggested areas of the country could have been left without power for a decade had the trajectories intersected.


The Solar Storm of 1859

The solar storm of 1859 happened on September 1 to 2, 1859 when a solar coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth’s magnetosphere and it was recorded as the most powerful geomagnetic storm in history. The solar storm of 1859 was also known as the Carrington Event and it occurred during solar cycle 10.

There were many sunspots that appeared on the Sun from August 28 to September 2, 1859. Then on August 29, there were southern auroras observed as far north as Queensland, Australia. On September 1, just before noon, English amateur astronomers named Richard Carrington and Richard Hodgson have recorded the earliest observations of a solar flare. Their compiled independent reports were published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Their drawings were also exhibited at the meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society in November 1859.

The solar flares were associated with a major CME that traveled straight toward the Earth. It took 17.6 hours to make the 150 million kilometer journey. It was believed that the high speed of that CME was due to a prior CME, and it can also be the cause of the large auroras observed on August 29 which cleared the way of ambient solar wind plasma for the Carrington event.

Carrington has suspected a solar-terrestrial connection because of the geomagnetic solar flare and a geomagnetic storm observed in the Kew Observatory magnetometer record the following day by Scottish physicist Balfour Stewart. There were worldwide reports on the effects of the geomagnetic storm of 1859 that were compiled and published by Elias Loomis, an American mathematician, and these support the observations of Carrington and Stewart.

When September 1 and 2, 1859 came, one of the largest recorded geomagnetic storms happened as recorded by ground-based magnetometers. There were auroras seen around the world. In fact, it was so bright that the glow has woken up gold miners who began preparing breakfast because they thought it was morning. The aurora was visible even at lower latitudes which are very close to the equator like Colombia.

During the storms, all of the telegraph systems in Europe and North America failed and it even gave some telegraph operators electric shocks. The telegraph pylons threw sparks which set telegraph papers on fire, transmitted gibberish, and caused widespread communication outages. The light show and electromagnetic storm continued for two days, then faded.


Sunspot cycle dangers

A Perfect Solar Superstorm: The 1859 Carrington Event

www.history.com

Imagine if one will in today's culture what such an event might cause. In 1859 there were no satellite constellations, no national power grid, no radios or computers with delicate circuitry. The telegraph system was pretty much brute force. Today our comms depend on a lot of vulnerable equipment. A Carrington event is arguably worse than an thermonuclear exchange in the possible wide spread destruction wreaked on power grids and infrastructure. I say arguably because we do not have empirical knowledge of a thermonuclear exchange (although we do have some information from single weapon testing detonations) and we have very limited knowledge of the 1859 event. Either way my purpose here is not to argue which is worse. BOTH have similar effects. My objective in this thread is for us to consider the effects of a Carrington event, CME or thermonuclear exchange would have on what our objective in this sub section of DEFCON is about- communicating by radio. The sun and nuclear detonations directly affect how successfully we do or dont communicate. We have been through several solar cycles of comparative quiet. New ops may not remember earlier more severe solar cycles because they either were not ops at that time or they are too young. Depending on which forecast(s) you have read---and each op that contemplates doing Health and Human Services comms or any type of comms during disaster is well served to become familiar with different predictions and consider- and discuss with other ops in the various groups and networks one is involved with, how different possibilities might effect the ability of the group to communicate ----particularly when comms that may be vital for survival on any scale are involved. As an op participating in disaster communications it is well to remember that you will hold the lives of other people in your hands.

Today may well be a case in point. As of my writing this at 0136Z 5/22, looking at the SWPC site


What If the Biggest Solar Storm on Record Happened Today?

Repeat of 1859 Carrington Event would devastate modern world, experts say.

On February 14 the sun erupted with the largest solar flare seen in four years—big enough to interfere with radio communications and GPS signals for airplanes on long-distance flights.

As solar storms go, the Valentine's Day flare was actually modest. But the burst of activity is only the start of the upcoming solar maximum, due to peak in the next couple of years.

"The sun has an activity cycle, much like hurricane season," Tom Bogdan, director of the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado, said earlier this month at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C.

"It's been hibernating for four or five years, not doing much of anything." Now the sun is waking up, and even though the upcoming solar maximum may see a record low in the overall amount of activity, the individual events could be very powerful.

In fact, the biggest solar storm on record happened in 1859, during a solar maximum about the same size as the one we're entering, according to NASA.

That storm has been dubbed the Carrington Event, after British astronomer Richard Carrington, who witnessed the megaflare and was the first to realize the link between activity on the sun and geomagnetic disturbances on Earth.

During the Carrington Event, northern lights were reported as far south as Cuba and Honolulu, while southern lights were seen as far north as Santiago, Chile. (See pictures of auroras generated by the Valentine's Day solar flare.)

The flares were so powerful that "people in the northeastern U.S. could read newspaper print just from the light of the aurora," Daniel Baker, of the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, said at a geophysics meeting last December.

In addition, the geomagnetic disturbances were strong enough that U.S. telegraph operators reported sparks leaping from their equipment—some bad enough to set fires, said Ed Cliver, a space physicist at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory in Bedford, Massachusetts.

In 1859, such reports were mostly curiosities. But if something similar happened today, the world's high-tech infrastructure could grind to a halt.

"What's at stake," the Space Weather Prediction Center's Bogdan said, "are the advanced technologies that underlie virtually every aspect of our lives."

Solar Flare Would Rupture Earth's "Cyber Cocoon"

To begin with, the University of Colorado's Baker said, electrical disturbances as strong as those that took down telegraph machines—"the Internet of the era"—would be far more disruptive. (See "The Sun—Living With a Stormy Star" in National Geographic magazine.)

Solar storms aimed at Earth come in three stages, not all of which occur in any given storm.

First, high-energy sunlight, mostly x-rays and ultraviolet light, ionizes Earth's upper atmosphere, interfering with radio communications. Next comes a radiation storm, potentially dangerous to unprotected astronauts.

Finally comes a coronal mass ejection, or CME, a slower moving cloud of charged particles that can take several days to reach Earth's atmosphere. When a CME hits, the solar particles can interact with Earth's magnetic field to produce powerful electromagnetic fluctuations. (Related: "Magnetic-Shield Cracks Found Big Solar Storms Expected.")

"We live in a cyber cocoon enveloping the Earth," Baker said. "Imagine what the consequences might be."

Of particular concern are disruptions to global positioning systems (GPS), which have become ubiquitous in cell phones, airplanes, and automobiles, Baker said. A $13 billion business in 2003, the GPS industry is predicted to grow to nearly $1 trillion by 2017.

In addition, Baker said, satellite communications—also essential to many daily activities—would be at risk from solar storms.

"Every time you purchase a gallon of gas with your credit card, that's a satellite transaction," he said.

But the big fear is what might happen to the electrical grid, since power surges caused by solar particles could blow out giant transformers. Such transformers can take a long time to replace, especially if hundreds are destroyed at once, said Baker, who is a co-author of a National Research Council report on solar-storm risks.

The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory's Cliver agrees: "They don't have a lot of these on the shelf," he said.

The eastern half of the U.S. is particularly vulnerable, because the power infrastructure is highly interconnected, so failures could easily cascade like chains of dominoes.

"Imagine large cities without power for a week, a month, or a year," Baker said. "The losses could be $1 to $2 trillion, and the effects could be felt for years."

Even if the latest solar maximum doesn't bring a Carrington-level event, smaller storms have been known to affect power and communications.

The "Halloween storms" of 2003, for instance, interfered with satellite communications, produced a brief power outage in Sweden, and lighted up the skies with ghostly auroras as far south as Florida and Texas.

Buffing Up Space-Weather Predictions

One solution is to rebuild the aging power grid to be less vulnerable to solar disruptions.

Another is better forecasting. Scientists using the new Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft are hoping to get a better understanding of how the sun behaves as it moves deeper into its next maximum and begins generating bigger storms. (See some of SDO's first sun pictures.)

These studies may help scientists predict when and where solar flares might appear and whether a given storm is pointed at Earth.

"Improved predictions will provide more accurate forecasts, so [officials] can take mitigating actions," said Rodney Viereck, a physicist at the Space Weather Prediction Center.

Even now, the center's Bogdan said, the most damaging emissions from big storms travel slowly enough to be detected by sun-watching satellites well before the particles strike Earth. "That gives us [about] 20 hours to determine what actions we need to take," Viereck said.

In a pinch, power companies could protect valuable transformers by taking them offline before the storm strikes. That would produce local blackouts, but they wouldn't last for long.

"The good news is that these storms tend to pass after a couple of hours," Bogdan added.

Meanwhile, scientists are scrambling to learn everything they can about the sun in an effort to produce even longer-range forecasts.

According to Vierick, space-weather predictions have some catching up to do: "We're back where weather forecasters were 50 years ago."


North Magnetic Pole Moving Due to Core Flux :

The facts are : Earth’s north magnetic pole is racing toward Russia at almost 40 miles (64 kilometers) a year due to magnetic changes in the planet’s core, new research says.

“The core is too deep for scientists to directly detect its magnetic field. But researchers can infer the field’s movements by tracking how Earth’s magnetic field has been changing at the surface and in space. Magnetic north, which is the place where compass needles actually point, is near but not exactly in the same place as the geographic North Pole. Right now, magnetic north is close to Canada’s Ellesmere Island.”

Note: National Geographic contacted Roxy Lopez of The Truth Denied in August of 2012 and asked many questions regarding here mini documentary on pole shifts: Please view this important short trailer here:

When they contacted Roxy Lopez about her film, they also asked questions about yet another viral interview she did on 2012 Pole shift: Watch it hear with guest Howard Stein. This interview from 2011 has over 250K hits . Alarming information.

We will have a follow up interview with Howard Stein on Tuesday 12-11-12 as well an article that will aid the public with preparations. Be sure to tune in, or simply put THE TRUTH DENIED on you RSS feeds so you can continue to receive alerts.

Please join Roxy Lopez every Tuesday Night 8-10 PM EST for the most informative shows on these subjects that matter to YOU!


Contents

The eruption tore through Earth's orbit, hitting the STEREO-A spacecraft. The spacecraft is a solar observatory equipped to measure such activity, and because it was far away from the Earth and thus not exposed to the strong electrical currents that can be induced when a CME hits the Earth's magnetosphere, [2] it survived the encounter and provided researchers with valuable data.

Based on the collected data, the eruption consisted of two separate ejections which were able to reach exceptionally high strength as the interplanetary medium around the Sun had been cleared by a smaller CME four days earlier. [2] Had the CME hit the Earth, it is likely that it would have inflicted serious damage to electronic systems on a global scale. [2] A 2013 study estimated that the economic cost to the United States would have been between US$600 billion and $2.6 trillion. [3] Ying D. Liu, professor at China's State Key Laboratory of Space Weather, estimated that the recovery time from such a disaster would have been about four to ten years. [4]

The record fastest CME associated with the solar storm of August 1972 is thought to have occurred in a similar process of earlier CMEs clearing particles in the path to Earth. This storm arrived in 14.6 hours, an even shorter duration after the parent flare erupted than for the great solar storm of 1859.

The event occurred at a time of high sunspot activity during Solar cycle 24.


Carrington Event still provides warning of Sun’s potential 161 years later

On 28 August 1859, a series of sunspots began to form on the surface of our stellar parent. The sunspots quickly tangled the Sun’s magnetic field lines in their area and produced bright, observed solar flares and one — likely two — Coronal Mass Ejections, one major.

The massive solar storm impacted our planet on 1-2 September 1859, causing widespread disruption to electrical and Telegraph services and spawning auroras visible in the tropics.

Officially known as SOL1859-09-01, the Carrington Event as it has become known colloquially showcased for the first time the potentially disastrous relationship between the Sun’s energetic temperament and the nascent technology of the 19th century.

It also resulted in the earliest observations of solar flares — by Richard Carrington (for whom the event is named) and Richard Hodgson — and was the event that made Carrington realize the relationship between geomagnetic storms and the Sun.

Coming just a few months before the solar maximum of 1860, numerous sunspots began to appear on the surface of the Sun on 28 August 1859 and were observed by Richard Carrington, who produced detailed drawings of them as they appeared on 1 September 1859.

The same day that the sunspots appeared, strong auroras began to dance around Earth’s magnetic lines, visible as far south as New England in North America. By 29 August, auroras were visible as far north as Queensland, Australia, in the Southern Hemisphere.

Richard Carrington’s drawings of the sunspots of 1 Sept. 1859, including notations (“A” and “B”) where the solar flare erupted from (“A”) and where it disappeared (“B”). (Credit: American Scientist, Vol. 95)

At the time, the link between auroral displays and the Sun was not yet known, and it would be the Carrington Event of 1859 that would solidify the connection for scientists not only due to observations performed by Carrington and Hodgson but also because of a magnetic crochet (a sudden disturbance of the ionosphere by abnormally high ionization or plasma — now associated with solar flares and Coronal Mass Ejections) recorded by the Kew Observatory magnetometer in Scotland during the major event.

On 1 September, Carrington and Hodgson were observing the Sun, investigating and mapping the locations, size, and shapes of the sunspots when, just before noon local time in England, they each independently became the first people to witness and record a solar flare.

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From the sunspot region, a sudden bright flash, described by Carrington as a “white light flare,” erupted from the solar photosphere. Carrington documented the flare’s precise location on the sunspots where it appeared as well as where it disappeared over the course of the 5 minute event.

The major CME event traversed the 150 million km distance between the Sun and Earth in just 17.6 hours, much faster than the multi-day period it usually takes CMEs to reach the distance of Earth’s orbit.

Follow-up investigations over the last century and a half point to the auroral displays of the 28 and 29 August 1859 as the clue for why the 1 September CME traveled as fast as it did. It is now widely believed and accepted that a smaller CME erupted from the Sun in late-August and effectively cleared the path between Earth and the Sun of most of the solar wind plasma that would normally slow down a CME.

By the time the 1 September event observed by Carrington and Hodgson began, conditions were perfect for the massive storm to race across the inner solar system and slam into Earth within just a few hours.

Late on Aug. 16, the Sun released a B1-class solar flare, the second smallest and a relatively common class of flare. The activity occurred in an otherwise quiet area of the Sun. Images from our SDO show the flare in 3 different wavelengths: https://t.co/GbHpIJLxTY pic.twitter.com/BBPoBpXthk

&mdash NASA Sun & Space (@NASASun) August 20, 2020

When the CME arrived, the Kew Observatory’s magnetometer recorded the event as a magnetic crochet in the ionosphere. This observation, coupled with the solar flare, allowed Carrington to correctly draw the link — for the first time — between geomagnetic storms observed on Earth and the Sun’s activity.

Upon impact, telegraph systems across Europe and North America, which took the brunt of the impact, failed. In some cases, telegraphs provided electric shocks to operators in other cases, their lines sparked in populated areas and — in places — started fires.

The event produced some of the brightest auroras ever recorded in history. People in New England were able to read the newspaper in the middle of the night without any additional light. Meanwhile, in Colorado, miners believed it was daybreak and began their morning routine.

The auroras were so strong they were clearly observed throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, southern Japan, southern China, and as far south as Colombia near the equator in South America and as far north as Queensland, Australia near the equator in the Southern Hemisphere.

The strength of the Carrington Event is now recognized in heliophysics as a specific class of CME and is named after Richard Carrington.

Historical evidence in the form of Carbon-14 trapped and preserved in tree rings indicates that the previous, similarly energetic CME event to the one in 1859 occurred in 774 CE and that Carrington-class Earth impact events occur on average once every several millennia.

Still, lower energy CMEs erupted from the Sun and impacted Earth in 1921, 1960, and 1989 — the latter of which caused widespread power outages throughout Quebec province in Canada. These three events are not considered to have been of Carrington-class strength.

However, a Carrington-class superstorm did erupt from the Sun on 23 July 2012 and narrowly missed Earth by just nine days, providing a stark warning from our solar parent that it is only a matter of time before another Carrington-class event impacts Earth.

Coming shortly after the 2012 near miss, researchers from Lloyd’s of London and the Atmospheric and Environmental Research agency in the United States estimated that a Carrington-class event impacting Earth today would cause between .6 and $2.6 trillion in damages to the United States alone and would cause widespread — if not global — electrical disruptions, blackouts, and damages to electrical grids.

Cascading failures of electrical grids, especially in New England in the United States, are also particularly likely during a Carrington-class event. Power restoration estimates range anywhere from a week to the least affected areas to more than a year to the hardest-hit regions.

Electronic payment systems at grocery stores and gas stations would likely crash, electric vehicle charging stations — that rely on the power grid — would likely be unusable for some time, as would ATMs which rely on an internet and/or satellite link to verify account and cash disbursement information.

The world’s heliophysics fleet of spacecraft that keep constant watch on the Sun. (Credit: NASA)

Television signals from satellites would be majorly disrupted, and satellites, too, would experience disruptions to radio frequency communication, crippling GPS navigation.

Planes flying over the oceans would likely experience navigation errors and communications blackouts as a result of the disrupted satellite network.

Astronauts onboard the International Space Station would either seek shelter in one of the radiation-hardened modules of the outpost or, if enough time permitted and the CME event was significant enough, enter their Soyuz or U.S. crew vehicle and come home.

The question of exactly how to best protect astronauts on the Moon or at destinations farther out in the solar system is an on-going discussion/effort.

Unlike 1859, however, today, we have an international fleet — including the Solar Dynamics Orbiter, SOHO, the Parker Solar Probe, and the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Solar Orbiter — of vehicles constantly observing the Sun and seeking to understand the underlying mechanisms that generate sunspots, solar flares, and Coronal Mass Ejections, which while linked to one another do not automatically follow each other.

Understanding the underlying mechanisms that trigger CMEs and how severe they would be is a key driving force for heliophysicists. But even with the current fleet in space, all scientists can really do at this moment is provide — at best — a multi-day warning that a CME has occurred and is heading toward Earth.

Simply having a multi-day warning would give us time to shut down power stations and transformers, stop long-haul and transoceanic flights, and basically hunker down and wait for it to pass. The best we could do now is simply try to minimize the damage.

It would take a large financial and time and workforce commitment to preemptively rebuild power grids and communications systems in a way that they could fully withstand a Carrington-class CME, and that is something governments around the world have shown little to no interest in doing.

Still, the Parker Solar Probe from NASA is literally diving into the solar corona to try to unlock the mystery of how Coronal Mass Ejections form and accelerate to incredible velocities as they leave the Sun. What’s more, ESA’s Solar Orbiter mission is attempting to complement that data by looking at the Sun and observing it from an orientation never before possible.

But a harsh truth remains: 161 years after the Carrington Event, the world is still not prepared for a large-scale solar storm and what it would do to us.

The nine day near miss of the 2012 Carrington-class event should have been a major wake-up call, especially given technological advancements and our dependence on it for everyday life.

But it’s warning does not appear to have been heeded as well as it should have.

(Lead image: A Coronal Mass Ejection erupts from the Sun on 2 December 2002 as seen by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory — SOHO)