In the past few months, there were reports of an impressive display of lights in the sky. Spectacular lights illuminated the sky during solar geomagnetic storms. For instance, this natural spectacle was visible for hours on the morning sky in parts of Britain.
Stunning Aurora Borealis was seen far more than expected in the Northern Hemisphere, even in southern Austria. Meanwhile, the Aurora Australis was seen as far as New Zealand and Australia. These celestial phenomena are produced when charged particles coming from solar eruptions are colliding and interfering with the Earth's magnetic field.
The number of the solar explosion and solar storms has increased in the past months. Now scientists have warned that their number is expected to increase even further. The scale of geomagnetic effects might increase as well. Researchers are expecting that a sun's activity to reach a maximum within the next 18 months.
This means we have to be prepared for what could potentially be the strongest solar storm on earth. Bursts of radiation could disrupt energy networks and communications. Northern Lights, usually only seen in the Antarctica and Arctic regions only, might be seen in much of the U.S. regions, Canada and northern Europe.
A reason to be worried about is scientists cannot predict such solar events. The timeframe for getting a warning when a huge solar explosion might happen is just 12 hours, according to a new report.
The British government published a plan to prepare for large solar explosions, describing the measures in place to deal with such an event. A strong solar explosion could cause power outages, disrupt transportation networks and disrupt satellite communication.
The GPS systems might be down for days at a time, affected maritime and rail transport. Landlines may not be affected but mobile phones, radio communications and satellite communications might be down. The high frequency channels used by air and sea transport may also be down for days. Electrical networks will experience power outages in many areas of the world.
According to the document, the extreme conditions of space weather resulting from a major coronal mass ejection will create large solar flares. If they would be directed toward Earth, there might be potential far-reaching effects. Severe solar storms are expected to threaten Earth every 100 years.
The last big coronal mass ejection, known as the "Carrington" event, took place in 1859 and it was the largest in 500 years. But today, when we are all dependent on modern technology, a similar event would have more devastating consequences and it might send our civilization back to a pre-Industrial Revolution era.