An expert has warned that a solar flare is going to hit “any day” now, and Earth’s technology could suffer tremendously. Solar flares are eruptions of energy from the Sun which spew out into the cosmos. While they usually have little effect on Earth, one expert warned that a massive one which could hit in the future could be devastating.
Solar storms can heat the Earth’s outer atmosphere, causing it to expand.
This can affect satellites in orbit, potentially leading to a lack of GPS navigation, mobile phone signal and satellite TV such as Sky.
Additionally, a surge of particles can lead to high currents in the magnetosphere, which can lead to higher than normal electricity in power lines, resulting in electrical transformers and power stations blow outs and a loss of power.
The biggest solar storm known to us was the Carrington Event which occurred in September 1859.
During that solar storm, the sun unleashed a series of powerful solar flares into space that were so powerful telegraph operators’ offices experienced a surge in electricity which resulted in some buildings setting on fire.
But in a modern world much more reliant on technology, the consequences could be much more severe.
Emma Osborne, an astrophysicist from the University of Southampton, told an audience at New Scientist Live: “If it did happen, there would be a surge in electromagnetic radiation that it could actually short circuit all of our equipment on Earth.
“Which if you think of all the electronic equipment we have, that is a little bit worrying.
The weather forecaster believes the UK does not have sufficient infrastructure to prepare ourselves for such an event.
A researcher from the Met Office said: “We find that for a one-in-100-year event, with no space weather forecasting capability, the gross domestic product loss to the United Kingdom could be as high as £15.9bn.
“With existing satellites nearing the end of their life, forecasting capability will decrease in coming years, so if no further investment takes place, critical infrastructure will become more vulnerable to space weather.”