According to a recent scientific study, the chance of Earth being impacted by a “super solar storm” is far greater than originally thought. Specifically, a study conducted by astronomers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of California, Berkeley determined that two major 2015 solar storms were most likely related to the largest solar storm ever recorded.
Said storm occurred on July 23rd, 2012 and produced a number of solar “ejections” that was the most powerful type of solar flare event in both intensity and scale.
According to scientists, the storm missed the earth by a very small margin - and thus the worst blackout in modern history did not happen. Had the 2012 storm hit Earth, it would have changed society by wiping out power and satellites that control finances, military communications and so much more.
In fact, satellites are essential to modern day life. They are so essential that governments across Earth have drafted contingency plans for how to cope if and when these satellites ever lose power and go offline. Not only do satellites enable the global markets to continue operating, they enable the emergency and defense systems of nations, they provide GPS global navigation services for the majority of transportation systems and they supply modern manufacturing, agriculture and logistics chains that supply virtually everything people consume.
Scientists reassured governments and the public that since events like the 2012 storm are incredibly rare, we should not worry about another recurrence for a very long time. Specifically, astronomers determined that a number of perfectly timed conditions must be met in order for a “perfect storm” like the 2012 storm to occur.
However, a new study - conducted by the same scientists - reveals that they may have grossly underestimated the rareness of such solar storms. The study was published in the Astrophysical Journal and reports that, “The ‘perfect storm’ scenario may not be as rare as the phrase implies.”
The new concerns raised by the scientists are based on two solar storms that occurred in the spring and summer of this year. These solar flares were seen by people across the globe and the storm resulted in temporary disruptions to radio transmissions over the Pacific Ocean. The researchers, led by Chinese astronomer Liu Ying, determined that while the 2015 storms were not as severe as the 2012 storm, they still contained bad news. Basically, a process of combination flares may be occurring, similar to the 2012 storms.
Therefore, the rarity of these storms may not be so rare after all. The researchers warn that a majorly severe “super solar storm” was something the public “should worry about, because complex events [such as the storms occurring earlier in 2015] are common.”