Washington, Feb 20 (IANS) A powerful solar flare has triggered the largest space weather storm in four years, disrupting some ground communications on earth.
Classified as a Class X flare, the Feb 15 event also spewed billions of tons of charged particles, igniting a geomagnetic storm in the Earth’s magnetic field, said Daniel Baker, director of University of Colorado-Boulder’s Lab for Space Physics.
Such powerful ejections can disrupt airline navigation systems and power grids to the safety of airline crews and astronauts, according to a Colorado statement.
– Space storms threaten technology (BBC News)
Thomas Bogdan, the director of the Space Weather Prediction Centre at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), said global positions systems, satellite delivered systems and the power grid are all at risk from solar flares.
– US Must Take Space Storm Threat Seriously, Experts Warn (Space.com):
WASHINGTON — Space weather could pose serious problems here on Earth in the coming years, the chief of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Saturday (Feb. 19).
– Scientists warn of $2000bn solar ‘Katrina’ (Financial Times)
The sun is waking up from a long quiet spell. Last week it sent out the strongest flare for four years – and scientists are warning that earth should prepare for an intense electromagnetic storm that, in the worst case, could be a “global Katrina” costing the world economy $2,000bn.
Senior officials responsible for policy on solar storms – also known as space weather – in the US, UK and Sweden urged more preparedness at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington.
“We have to take the issue of space weather seriously,” said Sir John Beddington, UK chief scientist. “The sun is coming out of a quiet period, and our vulnerability has increased since the last solar maximum [around 2000].”
“Predict and prepare should be the watchwords,” agreed Jane Lubchenco, head of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “So much more of our technology is vulnerable than it was 10 years ago.”