All it takes is one X20+ Solar Flare to ruin your life. The progression of Solar cycle 24 has shown a dramatic increase in flare activity above the predicted levels through November (the latest data available), and if it continues, could shatter the ‘low’ peak levels that have been predicted for 2012 / 2013. Time will tell.
The NOAA / Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder Colorado has posted data which shows ‘smoothed’ predicted values that have increased by 238 percent in the span of less than one month as indicated in the highlighted portion of the graph shown here.
The current 11-year solar cycle, due to peak within a year, has already produced a large X6.9 solar flare during August 2011, and will no doubt fire off more during the year ahead.
NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory platform (SDO), launched during February 2010, has been revealing dramatic imagery from the Sun as it roils with sunspots, flares, and eruptions, and has provided dramatic insight into the going’s on of the massive nuclear furnace.
Whether or not the current solar cycle maintains predicted levels or much higher than predicted levels, the chances of an extreme solar flare event remain. Scientists have zero doubt that the sun ‘regularly’ unleashes massive flares similar in strength to that of the 1859 ‘Carrington Event’ flare, an event so powerful that if it had occurred today would likely wipe out our modern way of life, potentially leading to tens of millions (or more) fatalities given our reliance and dependance upon technology and just-in-time deliveries.
Although there is nothing that we can do to prevent such an occurrence from the sun, we could choose to better ‘harden’ our electrical power grids and build an adequate number of spare EHV and other high-capacity transformers. The truth is though, that there is no political and economic will to do so, and we will remain at the mercy of our fiery sun while at the same time our lives continue to become more and more dependent upon technology and the efficiencies that it brings to our dependent lives.
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