Areas of possible power system collapse.
Solar Cycle 24 (they repeat every 11 years) will come to its peak in May, 2013, and NASA says we should prepare for power grid trouble. These solar storms usually cause a bit of havoc with electronics, and today our increasingly interconnected power grids acts like "giant antennas for geomagnetically induced currents."
"The great geomagnetic storm of 1859, for instance, occurred during a solar cycle of about the same size we’re predicting for 2013," said Doug Biesecker of the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center, according to NASA.
NASA says, "A recent report by the National Academy of Sciences found that if a similar storm occurred today, it could cause $1 to 2 trillion in damages to society's high-tech infrastructure and require four to ten years for complete recovery."
Scientists studied what would happen to today's power grids if we experience a solar storm similar to the great geomagnetic storm of May 1921.
The model predicted "more than 350 transformers at risk of permanent damage and 130 million people without power" for long periods of time.
Regions with a large percentage of "at-risk" capacity could suffer power failures lasting years, according to NASA. On a state-by-state map showing percentages of at-risk capacity, New
OK, but what about our iPhones? NASA says, "Radio bursts from solar flares can directly interfere with cell phone reception." Hmnn.
A new NASA project, "Solar Shield," is an experimental forecasting system for the North American power grid. The idea of grid protection has kicked around Congress, but funding remains a dicey proposition.
- NASA: Protecting the North American Power Grid
Graphic source: J. Kappenman, .Metatech Corp.
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