Hello my friend and welcome to today’s post. We hear a lot of talk about EMPs, but you don’t really hear a lot about their cousin the CME (Coronal Mass Ejection). In today’s post, we are going to take a look at this phenomena and the very real danger that they pose, so grab a cup of coffee and have a seat while we visit.
I was looking at the space weather on spaceweather.com and have been watching a sun spot that is growing quite rapidly. It is called AR2529 and is already larger than 2 Earths side by side. So why am I concerned about this sun spot? It is because just like an EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse), it can send us back to the dark ages in the blink of an eye.
So just what is a CME and what does it have to do with sun spots? That is a very good question and a very important one as well. Sun spots are basically a hole in the corona of the sun with an unstable magnetic field. As most people know, the sun is covered in magnetic fields that are constantly changing, unlike the one here on earth. Ours is stable and protects us from cosmic rays. The magnetic fields on the sun are different, however. If you take a doughnut shaped magnet and using iron filings, look at the shape of its magnetic field, you would have a good idea what the fields around a sunspot look like. The difference is that the magnetic fields around a sunspot can collapse and explode with enormous power. In some cases, the will throw millions on tons of plasma into the air as well. This plasma can travel through space at nearly the speed of light if the explosion is powerful enough. These explosions are called Solar Flares and are rated on special scales. A class “M” flare is considered to be a mild flare with little possibility of causing any damage here on Earth. Then there are the “X” class flares and these are the ones you really need to watch.
When a Solar Flare happens, it can send out a stream of material that can strike the Earth’s magnetic field with such force that if can actually cause an EMP type of effect here on earth. It has happened before and it will happen again. In 1859 one struck the earth with such force that it created Auroras that could be seen as far South as the Equator. It is known as the Carrington Event and was so intense that it affected the whole earth and not just one side. This CME caused systems all over Europe and North America to fail. Technology was in its very beginnings and the Telegraph System was pretty much the most advance Electronic Technology of the day. Telegraph Operators received electrical shocks from their equipment and in some cases the wires that connected the system became so hot that they actually caused the poles that the wires were suspended from to catch fire. There was a tremendous amount of energy in the air and if it happened today, with all of the micro-electronics that control our world, we would virtually be sent back into the dark ages. Almost all, if not all electronic devices would quit working immediately and our complete Electrical Grid with collapse without a doubt. We would be left in the dark and helpless. Once a CME erupts, you will have only hours to prepare for it before it strikes the earth.
So what can we do to protect ourselves from the effects of a CME? One of the best things you can do is to pay attention to the space weather and keep an eye on what is happening on the face of the sun. It is easy to do and you don’t need to be a scientist to figure it out. The www.spaceweather.com website makes it pretty painless. Just watch for large sunspots and read if they pose a danger of producing an “X” class flare and what the chances are that they will hit he earth. All of this information is right there all you have to do is check it. Just like you check your weather each day, make it appoint to check the space weather as well. Just so you know, in 2012, a CME that would have had the effect of the Carrington event barely missed the earth. If it had hit the earth, we would now be sitting in the dark. There is no way to predict when these will occur. Once you know one is headed towards earth and is of significant magnitude to cause damage, then you will want to begin unplugging and turning off your electronic devices. This alone however will not be enough to protect them completely as you will need to put them in some type of Faraday Cage to have any hope of saving them. There are plenty of plans and information on the internet on how to build and use them, so if you haven’t already, you need to learn and get prepared for when it happens. Unlike an EMP, with the CME you at least have a little warning so be prepared to take advantage of it. Remember that it is not “if” but when! Well that is it for today’s post and I hope you have enjoyed it. Until next time, stay safe, stay strong and stay prepared!
8 thoughts on “CME, the hidden danger no one talks about!”
To the best of my understanding, based on the available data and tests, the above description of both the CME and the consequences of such event are quite inaccurate.
CME lacks the E1 and E2 pulse of a NEMP, and as such will not effect many types of electronic devices. Long power lines and transformers will be at high risk, but many other electronics will not.
Also, based on what we know from historic events and tests like the Carrington Event, Starfish Prime, the 1962 Project K, etc. Tests on cars, using even NEMP type pulse have shown little damage to the vehicles.
Is a CME going to be disruptive? Sure. Is it going to send us back to the dark ages? Based on what we know, that is highly unlikely. In 1989 when a geomagnetic storm took out the Quebec power grid, power was restored within nine hours.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but are you aware of the fact that you are actually contradicting every expert on the subject? Perhaps you should do a little more research. Just saying.
CME’s produce EMP effects that primarily are dependent on the ‘length of the antenna’.
If your phone/tablet/laptop are plugged into anything – whether it’s just charging from a wall socket or charging from your desktop – your antenna length is now considerably longer. The E-3 component, which a large flare or CME would produce, travels along power lines, plumbing lines and any other long, conducting material. The pulse produces current surges that are shorter in duration than most electrical protection devices (breakers or surge-suppressors) are capable of dealing with. Anything plugged in, either directly (wall socket) or indirectly (phone connected to desktop which is plugged into the wall) is in danger of suffering damage from the current spikes.
Will it take out everything? Maybe not, but the 1989 event was rated at X35 (+/- 5) while inferring from magnetometer readings all over the world, the Carrington Event has been rated at X45. How will our power grids put up with something 10x the strength of the Quebec Power Grid event? Once the grid is down for days/weeks/months, what do we do then?
If the electrical grid is completely taken down, And lines and wires are melted what is the point in making a faraday cage? Would we not have a nice supply of useless electronics?
A Faraday cage would at least offer some protection to the items in it. Battery operated devices mainly and inverters which could convert battery voltage into 110 volts AC might be useful as well. With any luck any radios that you store in it will survive and allow you to communicate with others who did the same. 🙂
Just making sure the science is correct. 😉
A couple notes.
1) Earth’s magnetic field does fluctuate, and in the past has actually reversed (N becoming S and visa-versa – http://www.livescience.com/46694-magnetic-field-weakens.html
2) A CME and a Flare are two separate events. A flare erupts and travels near the speed of light – we get maybe a few minutes warning from SOHO. A CME MAY erupt after the flare, but since it’s made of actual matter, travels much slower – we could have between hours and days notice of a CME. – http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/the-difference-between-flares-and-cmes/
Both Flares and CMEs can cause EMP events, the difference is the strength. An X5 Flare would cause some GPS issues and some static on the radio – but behind that, generated from the same sunspot, could be an X34 CME – about the estimated strength of the Carrington Event.
Thank you for clarifying that for our readers. 🙂