Tag Archives: Richard Fisher

Expert: Sun Storm To Hit With Force Of 100 million H-Bombs

As reported earlier here at the Econotwist’s Blog; after 10 years of comparative slumber, the sun is waking up and astronomers are on full alert. This week several US media outlets reported that scientists once again are warning about a massive solar storm building that has the potential to wipe out the entire planet’s power grid – and possible even worse.

“The super storm will hit like a bolt of lightning, causing catastrophic consequences for the world’s health, emergency services and national security unless precautions are taken.”

Richard Fisher


NASA scientists have tried to pinpoint the time of impact, and has in earlier statements set the date to late 2011, or early 2012. NASA have later withdraw their time estimates, saying the storm could be 100 years away – or just 100 days. However, an Australian astronomer says the space community is betting on the sooner scenario, rather than the later.

The massive solar flare that caused spectacular light shows on Earth earlier this month was just a precursor to what is about to unfold.

The question right now is when.

Here is the facts:

NASA is now saying the Solar Max storm could be “100 years away or just 100 days.”
However, an Australian astronomer says the space community is betting on the sooner scenario, rather than the later, the Australian news.com.au reports.

NASA has been watching out for this storm since 2006 and reports from the US this week claim the storms could hit on that most “Hollywood” of disaster dates; 2012.

Similar storms back in 1859 and 1921 caused worldwide chaos, wiping out telegraph wires on a massive scale.

The 2012 storm has the potential to be even more disruptive.

The Most Violent In 100 Years

“The general consensus among general astronomers – and certainly solar astronomers – is that this coming Solar maximum will be the most violent in 100 years,” astronomy lecturer and columnist Dave Reneke says.

Reneke predicts the solar storm to hit the Earth in 2012, or possibly later into 2013.

A bold statement and one taken seriously by those it will affect most, namely airline companies, communications companies and anyone working with modern GPS systems, news.com.au writes.

“They can even trip circuit breakers and knock out orbiting satellites, as has already been done this year,” Dave Reneke says.

Regardless, the point astronomers are making is it doesn’t matter if the next Solar Max isn’t the worst in history, or even as bad as the 1859 storms.

It’s the fact that there hasn’t been one since the mid-80s. Commodore had just launched the Amiga and the only digital storm making the news was Tetris.

No one really knows what effect the 2012-2013 Solar Max will have on today’s digital-reliant society.

In an interview, Dr Richard Fisher, director of NASA’s Heliophysics division, told Mr Reneke the super storm would hit like “a bolt of lightning”, causing catastrophic consequences for the world’s health, emergency services and national security unless precautions are taken.

Trillion Dollar Disaster

US government officials earlier this year took part in a “tabletop exercise” in Boulder, Colorado, to map out what might happen if the Earth was hit with a storm as intense as the 1859 and 1921 storms.

The 1859 storm was of a similar size to that predicted by NASA to hit within the next three years – one of decreased activity, but more powerful eruptions.

NASA says that a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences found that if a similar storm occurred today, it could cause $1 to 2 trillion in damages to society’s high-tech infrastructure and require four to 10 years for complete recovery.

Staff at the Space Weather Prediction Center in Colorado, which hosted the exercise, said with our reliance on satellite technology, such an event could hit the Earth with the magnitude of a global hurricane or earthquake.

The reason for the concern comes as the sun enters a phase known as Solar Cycle 24.

100 Million Hydrogen Bombs

All the alarming news building around the event is being fueled by two things.

The first is a book by disaster expert Lawrence E. Joseph, Guilty of Apocalypse; “The Case Against 2012,” in which he claims the hurricane Katrina for the Earth may cause unprecedented planet-wide upheaval.

The second is a theory that claims sunspots travel through the sun on a conveyor belt similar to the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt which controls weather on Earth.

The belt carries magnetic fields through the sun. When they hit the surface, they explode as sunspots. Weakened, they then travel back through the sun’s core to recharge.

It all happens on a rough 40-50-year cycle, according to solar physicist David Hathaway of the National Space Science and Technology Center in the US.

He says when the belt speeds up, lots of magnetic fields are collected, which points to more intense future activity.

“The belt was turning fast in 1986-1996,” Professor Hathaway says.

“Old magnetic fields swept up then should reappear as big sunspots in 2010-2011.”

Most experts agree, although those who put the date of Solar Max in 2012 are getting the most press.

They claim satellites will be aged by 50 years, rendering GPS even more useless than ever, and the blast will have the equivalent energy of 100 million hydrogen bombs.

“We know it is coming but we don’t know how bad it is going to be,” Dr Fisher told Mr Reneke in the recent issue of Australasian Science.

“Systems will just not work. The flares change the magnetic field on the Earth and it’s rapid, just like a lightning bolt. That’s the solar effect,” Fisher says.

Related by the Econotwist:

NASA Prepares For Impact – Nasty Space Weather Ahead

NASA: Solar Tsunami To Hit Earth, Tuesday

Siberian Shaman: 2012 Solar Storms Will Trigger Collapse Of The West

When Will God Destroy Our Money?

The Sun Is Speaking!

NASA Discover New Form Of Space Weather; Has Power Of Earthquake

The Earth: A Danger Zone

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NASA Prepares For Impact – Nasty Space Weather Ahead

On Tuesday days top scientist met with authorities in Washington to prepare for possible emergency measures due to a sharp increase in solar activity. According to NASA the sun and the earth is about to come into contact in a way that’s new to human history. At the same time, our technological society has developed an unprecedented sensitivity to solar storms. The impact could cause twenty times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina.

“I believe we’re on the threshold of a new era in which space weather can be as influential in our daily lives as ordinary terrestrial weather.”

Richard Fisher

“The sun is waking up from a deep slumber, and in the next few years we expect to see much higher levels of solar activity. At the same time, our technological society has developed an unprecedented sensitivity to solar storms. The intersection of these two issues is what we’re getting together to discuss,” the head of NASA’s Heliophysics Division, Richard Fisher says on the space centers website.

On Tuesday, scientist from NASA, The National Academy of Sciences and The Space Weather Enterprise Forum met with authorities at the National Press Club in Washington for the fourth time.

Richard Fisher, head of NASA’s Heliophysics Division, explains the purpose of the meetings:

“The sun is waking up from a deep slumber, and in the next few years we expect to see much higher levels of solar activity. At the same time, our technological society has developed an unprecedented sensitivity to solar storms. The intersection of these two issues is what we’re getting together to discuss.”

Solar storms occur when sunspots on our star erupt and spew out flumes of charged particles that can damage power systems.

The sun’s activity typically follows an 11-year cycle, and it looks to be coming out of a slump and gearing up for an active period.

The National Academy of Sciences framed the problem two years ago in a landmark report entitled “Severe Space Weather Events—Societal and Economic Impacts.”

(Full 2008 report can be downloaded here for free)

It noted how people of the 21st-century rely on high-tech systems for the basics of daily life.

Total Knock-Out

Smart power grids, GPS navigation, air travel, financial services and emergency radio communications can all be knocked out by intense solar activity.

A century-class solar storm, the Academy warned, could cause twenty times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina.

Much of the damage can be mitigated if managers know a storm is coming.

Putting satellites in ‘safe mode’ and disconnecting transformers can protect these assets from damaging electrical surges.

Preventative action, however, requires accurate forecasting—a job that has been assigned to NOAA.

“Space weather forecasting is still in its infancy, but we’re making rapid progress,” says Thomas Bogdan, director of NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado.

Bogdan sees the collaboration between NASA and NOAA as key.

“NASA’s fleet of heliophysics research spacecraft provides us with up-to-the-minute information about what’s happening on the sun. They are an important complement to our own GOES and POES satellites, which focus more on the near-Earth environment.”

Among dozens of NASA spacecraft, he notes three of special significance: STEREO, SDO and ACE.

STEREO (Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory) is a pair of spacecraft stationed on opposite sides of the sun with a combined view of 90% of the stellar surface.

In the past, active sunspots could hide out on the sun’s far-side, invisible from Earth, and then suddenly emerge over the limb spitting flares and CMEs. STEREO makes such surprise attacks impossible, they claim.

Click on the image to play a 39 MB movie about space weather and  NASA's heliophysics fleet.

Click on the image to play a 39 MB movie about space weather and NASA's heliophysics fleet.

SDO (the Solar Dynamics Observatory) is the newest addition to NASA’s fleet. Just launched in February, it is able to photograph solar active regions with unprecedented spectral, temporal and spatial resolution.

Researchers can now study eruptions in exquisite detail, raising hopes that they will learn how flares work and how to predict them.

SDO also monitors the sun’s extreme UV output, which controls the response of Earth’s atmosphere to solar variability.

Bogdan’s favorite NASA satellite, however, is an old one: the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) launched in 1997.

“Where would we be without it?” he wonders. ACE is a solar wind monitor.

It sits upstream between the sun and Earth, detecting solar wind gusts, billion-ton CMEs, and radiation storms as much as 30 minutes before they hit our planet.

“ACE is our best early warning system,” says Bogdan. “It allows us to notify utility and satellite operators when a storm is about to hit.”

NASA spacecraft were not originally intended for operational forecasting—“but it turns out that our data have practical economic and civil uses,” NASA’s Richard Fisher notes.

“This is a good example of space science supporting modern society.”

“We take this very seriously”

2010 marks the 4th year in a row that policymakers, researchers, legislators and reporters have gathered in Washington DC to share ideas about space weather.

This year, forum organizers plan to sharpen the focus on critical infrastructure protection.

The ultimate goal is to improve the nation’s ability to prepare, mitigate, and respond to potentially devastating space weather events.

“I believe we’re on the threshold of a new era in which space weather can be as influential in our daily lives as ordinary terrestrial weather.” Fisher concludes.

“We take this very seriously indeed.”

Space Weather Enterprise Forum – home page

NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center

Severe Space Weather, Social and Economic Consequences (Science@NASA)

Unknown Impact

And there is no doubt that NASA and other space scientist takes this very serious – and they have very good reason to.

The fact is that no one can predict the impact of extreme solar activity, and a really powerful solar storm.

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“A very large coronal mass ejection from the sun that could cause a super solar storm if it should hit the earth might wipe out the global money system within minutes from impact. Stock exchanges would not operate, banking systems would not function, and both credit cards and ATM machines would stop working. We could find ourselves without the use of our modern electronic forms of money for months and possibly years,” Dr. Espen Gaarder Haug writes in a research paper released April 18th this year.

“And yet, even in a catastrophic scenario where water pumps, power plants, public transportation, and other infrastructural assets that are essential to contemporary life had failed, some type of functioning money system would be required to keep the basic necessities, such as food and medical supplies flowing without too much friction,” he adds.

“I am not a doomsayer. I do not predict that a super solar storm will hit us tomorrow, the day after tomorrow or next year, or even the year after that. The probability for a severe solar storm hitting the earth the next few years based on our limited amount of historical data seems to be low. However, it is probably higher than most people would imagine.”

You’ll find the article and a copy of Dr.Haug’s research paper here.

Is Sunlight Changing?

According to Author and researcher Mitch Battros, new scientific findings about suggest a charge in the sunlight particles coming toward us from within the Milky Way galaxy.

Charged particles that we call solar flares or coronal mass ejections “have an intricate interaction with Earth” that can affect our magnetic field and weather, he says.

In this video Mr. Battros discuss a variety of Earth changes and environmental issues including the hurricane season, the BP oil spill, as well as the implications of Solar Cycle 24 and Mayan prophecy.

Related by the The Swapper:

When Will God Destroy Our Money?

Will God Destroy Our Money or Will We Do It First?

Sun Spots To Cool Down The Markets?

Earthquake May Have Shortened Days on Earth

Mother Earth On Crack

“Mini Ice Age” Underway?

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NASA Prepares For Impact – Nasty Space Weather Ahead

On Tuesday days top scientist met with authorities in Washington to prepare for possible emergency measures due to a sharp increase in solar activity. According to NASA the sun and the earth is about to come into contact in a way that’s new to human history. At the same time, our technological society has developed an unprecedented sensitivity to solar storms. The impact could cause twenty times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina.

“I believe we’re on the threshold of a new era in which space weather can be as influential in our daily lives as ordinary terrestrial weather.”

Richard Fisher

“The sun is waking up from a deep slumber, and in the next few years we expect to see much higher levels of solar activity. At the same time, our technological society has developed an unprecedented sensitivity to solar storms. The intersection of these two issues is what we’re getting together to discuss,” the head of NASA’s Heliophysics Division, Richard Fisher says on the space centers website.

On Tuesday, scientist from NASA, The National Academy of Sciences and The Space Weather Enterprise Forum met with authorities at the National Press Club in Washington for the fourth time.

Richard Fisher, head of NASA’s Heliophysics Division, explains the purpose of the meetings:

“The sun is waking up from a deep slumber, and in the next few years we expect to see much higher levels of solar activity. At the same time, our technological society has developed an unprecedented sensitivity to solar storms. The intersection of these two issues is what we’re getting together to discuss.”


Solar storms occur when sunspots on our star erupt and spew out flumes of charged particles that can damage power systems.

The sun’s activity typically follows an 11-year cycle, and it looks to be coming out of a slump and gearing up for an active period.

The National Academy of Sciences framed the problem two years ago in a landmark report entitled “Severe Space Weather Events—Societal and Economic Impacts.”

(Full 2008 report can be downloaded here for free)

It noted how people of the 21st-century rely on high-tech systems for the basics of daily life.

Total Knock-Out

Smart power grids, GPS navigation, air travel, financial services and emergency radio communications can all be knocked out by intense solar activity.

A century-class solar storm, the Academy warned, could cause twenty times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina.

Much of the damage can be mitigated if managers know a storm is coming.

Putting satellites in ‘safe mode’ and disconnecting transformers can protect these assets from damaging electrical surges.

Preventative action, however, requires accurate forecasting—a job that has been assigned to NOAA.

“Space weather forecasting is still in its infancy, but we’re making rapid progress,” says Thomas Bogdan, director of NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado.

Bogdan sees the collaboration between NASA and NOAA as key.

“NASA’s fleet of heliophysics research spacecraft provides us with up-to-the-minute information about what’s happening on the sun. They are an important complement to our own GOES and POES satellites, which focus more on the near-Earth environment.”

Among dozens of NASA spacecraft, he notes three of special significance: STEREO, SDO and ACE.

STEREO (Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory) is a pair of spacecraft stationed on opposite sides of the sun with a combined view of 90% of the stellar surface.

In the past, active sunspots could hide out on the sun’s far-side, invisible from Earth, and then suddenly emerge over the limb spitting flares and CMEs. STEREO makes such surprise attacks impossible, they claim.

Click on the image to play a 39 MB movie about space weather and NASA's heliophysics fleet.

Click on the image to play a 39 MB movie about space weather and NASA's heliophysics fleet.

SDO (the Solar Dynamics Observatory) is the newest addition to NASA’s fleet. Just launched in February, it is able to photograph solar active regions with unprecedented spectral, temporal and spatial resolution.

Researchers can now study eruptions in exquisite detail, raising hopes that they will learn how flares work and how to predict them.

SDO also monitors the sun’s extreme UV output, which controls the response of Earth’s atmosphere to solar variability.

Bogdan’s favorite NASA satellite, however, is an old one: the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) launched in 1997.

“Where would we be without it?” he wonders. ACE is a solar wind monitor.

It sits upstream between the sun and Earth, detecting solar wind gusts, billion-ton CMEs, and radiation storms as much as 30 minutes before they hit our planet.

“ACE is our best early warning system,” says Bogdan. “It allows us to notify utility and satellite operators when a storm is about to hit.”

NASA spacecraft were not originally intended for operational forecasting—“but it turns out that our data have practical economic and civil uses,” NASA’s Richard Fisher notes.

“This is a good example of space science supporting modern society.”

“We take this very seriously”

2010 marks the 4th year in a row that policymakers, researchers, legislators and reporters have gathered in Washington DC to share ideas about space weather.

This year, forum organizers plan to sharpen the focus on critical infrastructure protection.

The ultimate goal is to improve the nation’s ability to prepare, mitigate, and respond to potentially devastating space weather events.

“I believe we’re on the threshold of a new era in which space weather can be as influential in our daily lives as ordinary terrestrial weather.” Fisher concludes.

“We take this very seriously indeed.”

Space Weather Enterprise Forum – home page

NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center

Severe Space Weather, Social and Economic Consequences (Science@NASA)

Unknown Impact

And there is no doubt that NASA and other space scientist takes this very serious – and they have very good reason to.

The fact is that no one can predict the impact of extreme solar activity, and a really powerful solar storm.

Espen Gaarder Haug

“A very large coronal mass ejection from the sun that could cause a super solar storm if it should hit the earth might wipe out the global money system within minutes from impact. Stock exchanges would not operate, banking systems would not function, and both credit cards and ATM machines would stop working. We could find ourselves without the use of our modern electronic forms of money for months and possibly years,” Dr. Espen Gaarder Haug writes in a research paper released April 18th this year.

“And yet, even in a catastrophic scenario where water pumps, power plants, public transportation, and other infrastructural assets that are essential to contemporary life had failed, some type of functioning money system would be required to keep the basic necessities, such as food and medical supplies flowing without too much friction,” he adds.

“I am not a doomsayer. I do not predict that a super solar storm will hit us tomorrow, the day after tomorrow or next year, or even the year after that. The probability for a severe solar storm hitting the earth the next few years based on our limited amount of historical data seems to be low. However, it is probably higher than most people would imagine.”

You’ll find the article and a copy of Dr.Haug’s research paper here.

Is Sunlight Changing?

According to Author and researcher Mitch Battros, new scientific findings about suggest a charge in the sunlight particles coming toward us from within the Milky Way galaxy.

Charged particles that we call solar flares or coronal mass ejections “have an intricate interaction with Earth” that can affect our magnetic field and weather, he says.

In this video Mr. Battros discuss a variety of Earth changes and environmental issues including the hurricane season, the BP oil spill, as well as the implications of Solar Cycle 24 and Mayan prophecy.


Related by the Economist:

When Will God Destroy Our Money?

Will God Destroy Our Money or Will We Do It First?

Sun Spots To Cool Down The Markets?

Earthquake May Have Shortened Days on Earth

Mother Earth On Crack

“Mini Ice Age” Underway?

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