A Solar Storm can Hurt Us

Jake Buckland Impact Mitigation other preparedness

A Solar Storm can Hurt Us


Effects of a solar storm on earth

A solar storm can affect technological systems on earth, making them inoperable and causing widespread communications blackout. In 1859, a geomagnetic storm hit Earth causing the most massive solar storm on record. If a similar strength solar flare hit earth today, it would produce widespread disruptions and damage our technological infrastructure.

A solar storm can flow into and through the ionosphere. Once through, this solar energy can travel through long conductors such as electric power lines, solar panels, telephone lines and pipelines. Excessive currents running through these systems can overload electrical components, causing failure, or can decrease the lifetime of the infrastructure by enhancing corrosion. For example, in March 1989, Hydro Québec suffered from a solar storm that caused a complete power outage in Québec, Canada lasting several hours. This solar activity caused excessive damage to a transformer leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power. If this geomagnetic storm had occurred on a larger scale, the consequences could have been devastating.

Effects of a solar storm on human beings

Scientists around the world have documented the effects of a solar storm on telecommunications systems, however, the discussion surrounding its impact on human beings is still in its infancy. Several studies have documented the harmful effects of a geomagnetic storm on the human body.

The incidence of various illnesses, including a heart attack (death of an area of cardiac muscle tissue due to a lack of oxygen) and mental illness, increased during periods of increased geomagnetic disturbance.

Solar flare danger was also supported by some research studies coming out of India.  They concluded that there is a possibility of death being induced by a heart attack after a major solar storm. Their conclusion was based on looking at outcomes rather than events as criteria for measuring health-related effects.

Research studies have shown that a solar storm does impact human health, for exmaple:

1. A geomagnetic storm has a more significant effect on humans at higher geomagnetic latitudes;
2. Unusually high activity values of a solar storm have affected human cardiovascular health;
3. Extraordinarily low activity values of a solar storm seem to affect human health;
4. Only a fraction of the population is significantly affected by a geomagnetic storm; and
5. Heart rate variability (HRV) is negatively correlated with a solar storm.

You can prepare for a solar storm the same way as preparing for an earthquake, hurricane or other natural disasters. Develop an emergency plan and build an emergency kit.



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