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18 June, 2024
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Solar storm threatens earth's power and internet

Geomagnetic storm could rock GPS and power grids

A rare warning has been issued over a solar storm that could affect Earth’s power supplies and knock out the internet.

A severe geomagnetic storm watch was put out by the US’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration yesterday – the first such warning since January 2005.

At that time, the highest dose of radiation in 50 years hit the earth.

The ‘unusual’ solar storm may disrupt electronic devices like GPS and power grids over the two hours it takes to reach its peak strength.

After that, it may continue at reduced strength on Saturday and Sunday, according to the Met Office.

It could also emit a ‘spectacular display’ of light, or aurora resembling the Northern Lights, over much of the northern hemisphere, including the UK.

The Met Office said that is ‘a chance that aurora may become visible to all parts of the UK’.

A series of solar flares released large volumes of plasma on the sun, sparking the warning after they were spotted on Wednesday.

The affects could be soon as early this afternoon as the expulsions of matter and magnetic field cause geomagnetic storms that could harm living creatures on earth.

It may even ‘wipe out the internet’ in some areas, of which the NOAA has warned internet providers about.

The alert read: ‘NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC)- a division of the National Weather Service – is monitoring the sun following a series of solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that began on May 8.

Space weather forecasters have issued a Severe (G4) Geomagnetic Storm Watch for the evening of Friday.

‘Additional solar eruptions could cause geomagnetic storm conditions to persist through the weekend,’ it went on, before describing the abnormal activity that tipped space specialists off.

‘A large sunspot cluster has produced several moderate to strong solar flares since Wednesday at 5:00 am ET,’ it read.

‘At least five flares were associated with CMEs that appear to be Earth-directed. SWPC forecasters will monitor NOAA and NASA’s space assets for the onset of a geomagnetic storm.’

When such alert was last issued in 2005, a storm of energetic protons hit Earth just 15 minutes later.

It caused a high frequency radio burst, which indicated a presence of large quantity of energetic electrons in very strong magnetic fields.

Radiation monitors across the world were set off by the highest level of radiation to hit the planet in half a decade.

But it did not knock out the internet the the incoming solar storm is expected to do.

[Source: Metro UK]

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