Coronal Mass Ejection

I will be the first to admit that Coronal Mass Ejections (CME) are a prime subject of too much bad doomer porn. That doesn’t mean we can ignore them as a potential problem.

Most CMEs are non-events-they miss the Earth. Some are minor events that trigger the fantastic displays of the aurora borealis or the aurora australis. Pretty lights in the sky, maybe something you can bounce a ham radio signal off of, but nothing to worry about.

Then you have fun things like the 1859 Carrington Event, which knocked out telegraph communications (the Intertubz of its day) and triggered auroras as far south as Cuba. Fortunately for the world, it wasn’t as dependent on electrical gadgetry as it is today.

The 1859 event wasn’t a one-off. In March, 1989, a geomagnetic storm knocked out the Hydro-Quebec power grid. In August another one knocked out the Toronto stock market.

There is historical evidence of a number of such large CME events.

The march of science being what it is, we have a new and improved estimate of a worst case CME-a large one, directly impacting the earth, which follows another one shortly before it that has, in effect, cleared a path. The effects will be bad. We’ll likely lose most if not all satellites, knocking out communications, GPS services and disrupting weather forecasting to some extent. I would imagine that we’ll lost the power grid in at least some areas.

As the article says, these things are rare, but they do happen. What has happened before will happen again.

Just a little something else to worry about.

1 thought on “Coronal Mass Ejection

  1. Which is why I have a manual back-up coffee grinder. It may be the Apocalypse, but by Dog I will have coffee!

    I've been nagging, er, I mean, mentioning, to my power wheelchair clients that they ain't goin' nowhere 8 hours after the juice go out. Serendipitously, the first time I brought it up, the power actually went out while I was haranguing my favorite wheelie. Didn't do a bit of good. Sigh.

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