Geomagnetic Storm & Impacts on Technology

Jake Buckland Impact

Geomagnetic Storm & Impacts on Technology


How a geomagnetic storm can impact your life

It’s only when a geomagnetic storm affects our livelihood that we begin to appreciate its power and our fragility. A geomagnetic storm disrupts our way of living by damaging the satellite technology that orbits our planet. For example, when satellite systems fail, airliners can no longer use weather data to plan safe travel routes. As a result, all fights get grounded. This may have happened in October 2011 when the Anik F2 satellite failed due to an “anomaly” as cited by the owner Telesat, Canada. The satellite failure grounded all flights into and out of all 25 communities in the territory of Nunavut, Canada. The technological failure also closed all banks and ATM’s, restricted retail transactions to cash and reduced work productivity.

Our lives have become intertwined with technology. While in most cases this has created efficiencies, it’s highly contingent on the technology’s redundant systems. If there are none, then you’re risking a lot. But even if there are redundant systems, the above example illustrates that failures happen.

Most of the time we would take solar storms for granted, not fully appreciating its power. That changed on May 19, 1998, when the Galaxy IV satellite failed after experiencing a geomagnetic storm generated by the sun. Galaxy IV carried the signals of over 90% of North America’s pagers and several major broadcast networks, including US National Public Radio (NPR) and CBS . This failure also left radio and TV programmers scrambling, medical doctors out of contact with hospitals, and destroyed critical components of electrical power grids. Experts have determined that the Galaxy IV fell victim to a solar storm.

A massive geomagnetic storm occurs when there is an enormous explosion of plasma from the Sun’s corona, otherwise known as a coronal mass ejection or a CME solar flare. If a large enough CME solar flare is directed towards earth, it would result in the total failure of all satellite communications, resulting in a loss of air transportation, communications, banks machines, weather reports, time synchronization, etc. The good news is you can prepare for this type of geomagnetic storm by developing a plan, stocking up on emergency food and getting an emergency kit.

While you may think, you can’t do anything about a geomagnetic storm; you can. Always remain cognizant of your dependence on technology and ways it impacts your life. And, prepare for any eventuality by storing your emergency food and emergency kit, just in case our connected world gets unplugged.



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