2017-01-28

NASA reveals new prediction system for giant 'doomsday' solar storms that could cost America $41 billion a day


Most extreme scenario would affect 66%of the U.S. population
Daily domestic economic loss could total $41.5 billion
Would also be additional $7 billion loss through the international supply chain


The have the potential to wipe out power for millions, and cost economies around the world billions.
NASA today revealed a breakthrough in predicting solar storms, which will help give Earth an early warning. The magnetic field of these solar eruptions are difficult to predict and can interact with Earth's magnetic fields, causing space weather effects.

These animated images show the propagation of a CME as it erupts from the sun and travels through space, comparing actual NASA and ESA’s SOHO satellite observations on the right to the simulation from the new CME-modeling tool at the Community Coordinated Modeling Center on the left. SOHO observed this CME on March 7, 2011.

The dynamic space environment that surrounds Earth – the space our astronauts and spacecraft travel through – can be rattled by huge solar eruptions from the sun, which spew giant clouds of magnetic energy and plasma, a hot gas of electrically charged particles, out into space.

Unlike the energy and x-rays produced in a solar flare – which can reach Earth at the speed of light in eight minutes – coronal mass ejections are giant, expanding clouds of solar material that take one to three days to reach Earth.

Once at Earth, these ejections or CMEs can impact satellites in space or interfere with radio communications.

The new tool, called EEGGL – short for the Eruptive Event Generator (Gibson and Low) and pronounced 'eagle' – helps map out the paths of these magnetically structured clouds, called coronal mass ejections or CMEs, before they reach Earth.

EEGGL is part of a much larger new model of the corona, the sun's outer atmosphere, and interplanetary space, developed by a team at the University of Michigan.

Built to simulate solar storms, EEGGL helps NASA study how a CME might travel through space to Earth and what magnetic configuration it will have when it arrives.

Such computer models can help researchers better understand how the sun will affect near-Earth space, and potentially improve our ability to predict space weather, as is done by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

'Incorporating the magnetic properties at CME initiation may give scientists a better idea of a CME's magnetic structure and ultimately, how this structure influences the CME's path through space and interaction with Earth's magnetic fields – an important piece to the puzzle of the sun's dynamic behavior,' NASA said.


Researchers carried out an unprecedented study examining the economic impact of huge solar flares it is feared could knock out power to entire regions.

One recent study predicted solar storms could cause massive blackouts across America and cost the country up to $41.5 billion a day, a shocking new study has found.

Researchers carried out an unprecedented study examining the economic impact of huge solar flares it is feared could knock out power to entire regions.

It is the firm to estimate the cost to not just the blackout zones, but indirect costs.

'On average the direct economic cost incurred from disruption to electricity represents only 49 percent of the total potential macroeconomic cost,' says the paper published in Space Weather, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

Under the study's most extreme blackout scenario, affecting 66 percent of the U.S. population, the daily domestic economic loss could total $41.5 billion plus an additional $7 billion loss through the international supply chain.

Unlike the energy and x-rays produced in a solar flare – which can reach Earth at the speed of light in eight minutes – coronal mass ejections are giant, expanding clouds of solar material that take one to three days to reach Earth.

Once at Earth, these ejections or CMEs can impact satellites in space or interfere with radio communications.

The new paper was co-authored by researchers from the Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies at University of Cambridge Judge Business School; British Antarctic Survey; British Geological Survey and University of Cape Town.


This figure shows the blackout zone, daily customer disruptions and daily lost GDP. Under the study's most extreme blackout scenario, affecting 66 percent of the U.S. population, the daily domestic economic loss could total $41.5 billion plus an additional $7 billion loss through the international supply chain.

Electrical engineering experts are divided on the possible severity of blackouts caused by 'Coronal Mass Ejections,' or magnetic solar fields ejected during solar flares and other eruptions.

Some believe that outages would last only hours or a few days because electrical collapse of the transmission system would protect electricity generating facilities, while others fear blackouts could last weeks or months because those transmission networks could in fact be knocked out and need replacement.

Extreme space weather events occur often, but only sometimes affecting Earth.

The best-known geomagnetic storm affected Quebec in 1989, sparking the electrical collapse of the Hydro-Quebec power grid and causing a widespread blackout for about nine hours.

There was a very severe solar storm in 1859 known as the 'Carrington event' (after the name of a British astronomer).

HOW WOULD WE BE AFFECTED?

Last year, the government published a report outlining what needs to be done to prepare for 'space weather' including solar flares and CMES.

Solar flares and coronal mass ejections both involve gigantic explosions of energy, but while flares can last minutes to hours and can reach Earth in a matter of minutes, CMES are intense clouds of magnetised particles hurled into space including a hot material called plasma, which takes up to three days to reach Earth.

The two phenomena can occur at the same time and the strongest flares are almost always accompanied by CMEs.

The report states: 'Space weather results from solar activity. Solar activity can produce X-rays, high energy particles and Coronal Mass Ejections of plasma.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4161180/NASA-prediction-doomsday-solar-storms.html#v-5711778104143426250

'Where such activity is directed towards Earth there is the potential to cause wide-ranging impacts.

'These include power loss, aviation disruption, communication loss, and disturbance to (or loss) of satellite systems.'

For example, GPS systems could go down for up to three days at a time, leaving train networks and shipping badly affected.

While mobile phones and landlines are expected to be unaffected, satellite communication and high frequency radio communication used by shipping and aircraft, could also go down for several days.

Power grids could also be affected, leading to black outs in some areas.

A widely cited 2012 paper by Pete Riley of Predictive Sciences Inc. said that the probability of another Carrington event occurring within the next decade is around 12 percent; a 2013 report by insurer Lloyd's, produced in collaboration with Atmospheric and Environmental Research, said that while the probability of an extreme solar storm is 'relatively low at any given time, it is almost inevitable that one will occur eventually.'

'We felt it was important to look at how extreme space weather may affect domestic U.S. production in various economic sectors, including manufacturing, government and finance, as well as the potential economic loss in other nations owing to supply chain linkages,' says study co-author Edward Oughton of the Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies at Cambridge Judge Business School.


Solar flares and coronal mass ejections both involve gigantic explosions of energy, but while flares can last minutes to hours and can reach Earth in a matter of minutes, CMES are intense clouds of magnetised particles hurled into space including a hot material called plasma, which takes up to three days to reach Earth.

'It was surprising that there had been a lack of transparent research into these direct and indirect costs, given the uncertainty surrounding the vulnerability of electrical infrastructure to solar incidents.'

The study's scope was guided by a July 2015 conference held at Cambridge Judge.

The study looks at three geographical scenarios for blackouts caused by extreme space weather, depending on the latitudes affected by different types of incidents.

If only extreme northern states are affected, with 8 percent of the U.S. population, the economic loss per day could reach $6.2 billion supplemented by an international supply chain loss of $0.8 billion.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4161180/NASA-prediction-doomsday-solar-storms.html#v-7132757044030650566

A scenario affecting 23 percent of the population could have a daily cost of $16.5 billion plus $2.2 billion internationally, while a scenario affecting 44 percent of the population could have a daily cost of $37.7 billion in the US plus $4.8 billion globally. (The study is calculated using 2011 U.S. dollars.)

Manufacturing is the U.S. economic sector most affected by those solar-induced blackouts, followed by government, finance and insurance, and property.

Outside of the U.S., China would be most affected by the indirect cost of such U.S. blackouts, followed by Canada and Mexico – as 'these countries provide a greater proportion of raw materials, and intermediate goods and services, used in production by U.S. firms.'

Quelle: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4161180/NASA-prediction-doomsday-solar-storms.html
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