1 in 8 Chance of Catastrophic Solar Megastorm by 2020

Earth has a roughly 12 per cent chance of experiencing an enormous megaflare erupting from the sun in the next decade. This event could potentially cause trillions of dollars worth of damage and take up to a decade to recover from.

Such an extreme event is considered to be relatively rare. The last gigantic solar storm, known as the Carrington Event, occurred more than 150 years ago and was the most powerful such event in recorded history.

Earth’s sun goes through an 11-year cycle of increased and decreased activity. During solar maximum, it’s dotted with many sunspots and enormous magnetic whirlwinds erupt from its surface. Occasionally, these flares burst outward from the sun, spewing a mass of charged particles out into space.

These charged particles cause Auroras that may be beautiful, but the charged particles can wreak havoc on electrical systems. At the time of the Carrington Event, telegraph stations caught on fire, their networks experienced major outages and magnetic observatories recorded disturbances in the Earth’s field that were literally off the scale.

In today’s electrically dependent modern world, a similar scale solar storm could have catastrophic consequences. Learn more here.

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