The possibility of massive solar storms may cost billions of dollars. On January 18, the American Geophysical Union has reported that solar storms could cause electricity blackouts which could cost the US approximately $40 billion per day. The AGU magazine known as Space Weather has recently published a new study developing this idea.
The paper indicates that approximately half of the financial loss would occur outside the blackout area. The study developed the most terrible blackout scenario to unveil which would be the losses if such an event would actually happen. The research has shown that approximately 66% of the population of the US would be affected.
The domestic economic loss was estimated at $41.5 billion per day adding a loss of $7 billion through the international supply chain. Previous researchers have concentrated on the economic costs within the blackout area, without accounting for the indirect international and domestic chain loss. The co-authors of the study included the help provided by researchers from the University of Cape Town, the British Geological Survey, the British Antarctic Survey and the Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies at University of Cambridge Judge Business School.
If you are wondering what solar storms are, scientists have explained the phenomenon. These storms begin with solar flares which are extremely common on the surface of the sun, becoming even more common during the peak of the 11-year cycle activity of the star. The most powerful solar flares may be accompanied by intense, energetic events which are known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs).
During these cosmic events, immense plasma bubbles and magnetic fields are spurred outward from the star. After several hours, tons of matter from the surface of the sun may be lifted and propelled at very high speeds like a million miles per hour. The waves of these shocks propagate through our solar system, developing extreme space weather.
These space storms occur often, but they rarely affect our planet. The solar particles which are charged which may be released during these cosmic events are not always aimed Earth’s way. The last time when Earth was affected by a solar storm was on March 13, 1989. The solar storms then caused the development of auroras which were visible as far as Texas and Florida.
Image courtesy of: wikipedia