Scientists Warn of 'Catastrophic' Solar Storm
1 in 8 chance of destructive megaflare by 2020
By Mary Papenfuss, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2012 2:33 AM CST
Updated Mar 1, 2012 4:38 AM CST
This NASA image shows the sun unleashing a medium-sized solar flare, and a spectacular coronal mass ejection last summer.   (AP Photo/NASA)

(Newser) – Prepare yourself for yet another potential disaster. Scientists are warning that we face a one-in-eight chance of a massive "catastrophic" solar storm by the year 2020. A colossal "megaflare" from the surface of the sun could cause trillions of dollars in damage to electrical systems, and could take a decade to recover from. The prediction is based on mathematical probability equations linked to previous events.

The last massive sun eruption was the Carrington Event in 1859, reports Wired. An enormous flare emitted a vast particle stream that created auroras as it hit the Earth's atmosphere, setting telegraph stations on fire, blacking out their networks, and knocking changes in Earth’s magnetic field off the scale. A similar event in our high-tech era could cripple electric power, radio communication, and GPS satellites, disrupting transportation, communication, and banking systems.

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Showing 3 of 59 comments
lvan
Mar 5, 2012 1:39 AM CST
umm duh. circuit breaker satellites directly linked to power grid.
ppacimr9ball
Mar 2, 2012 8:53 AM CST
these storms happen every 20 to 30 years on average - the last storm outbreak was in the 70's, as the 70's winded down the storms did also, then celluar technology took off, its just by chance we have not had an outbreak of storms but they are coming this is true, the cycle always changes, if there was cell phones and modern technology in the 70's it wouldnt have worked,
Scaramouche
Mar 1, 2012 11:38 PM CST
I want to like this, but I'm afraid if I do, then it will happen, and something bad will happen to my kids or wife or me, and the irony will be more than I can bear.