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Old 06-14-2014, 11:29 AM
 
Location: Columbus, OH
381 posts, read 484,631 times
Reputation: 524

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Not only would a Carrington-size CME devastate the power grid, but nuclear power plants would not be able to keep fuel rods cool in the aftermath of such an event.

This should have a lot of people taking note.

Nuclear power plant operators should be required to create a CME preparation plan, especially making sure that cooling systems would continue to function.

They would also need to stockpile food and water for plant workers in the aftermath of a CME.

Last edited by Fletchman; 06-14-2014 at 11:46 AM..
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Old 07-23-2014, 05:34 PM
 
Location: Columbus, OH
381 posts, read 484,631 times
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Covered today in the Washington Post:

How a solar storm nearly destroyed life as we know it two years ago
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Old 07-24-2014, 11:57 AM
 
Location: Wasilla, Alaska
17,850 posts, read 19,602,107 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletchman View Post
Consider the source.

We have been recording the magnitude of solar flares since 1976. The largest solar flare ever to be recorded was on November 4, 2003 and rated an X28 class solar flare. Which means that it equaled 0.0028 watts per square meter in the 1-8 Ångstrom wavelength. The 1859 Carrington event is estimated to have been an X40 or larger solar flare, or greater than 0.004 watts per square meter in the 1-8 Ångstrom wavelength. Some even consider that the 1859 solar flare could have been a Z-class solar flare, or ten times stronger than an X-class solar flare.

Even a Z-class solar flare would not have "destroyed life as we know it," but it would most likely overload any device carrying an electrical charge anywhere on the planet. As long as we know when it will impact Earth, and for how long, we can turn off or disconnect all our electrical devices and power down the electrical grid for the duration of the storm, and be perfectly fine afterwards.

However, if we ignore a solar storm of that magnitude and do nothing, then every transformer, iPhone, computer, vehicle battery, etc., etc. on the planet carrying an electrical charge would short out and rendered useless. Requiring months, or possibly even years, to replace them all. Going without power voluntarily for a few hours to at most a day is a lot better than going without power involuntarily for months.

The Washington Post's story is based upon us ignoring an X40 or greater solar flare, like the 1859 event when the only thing carrying an electrical charge at that time was the telegraph. I hate to disappoint the "doom and gloom" people at the Washington Times, but we have not ignored solar flares since 1976. Even much smaller X-class solar flares can seriously effect our satellites, unless they are powered down for the duration of the storm.
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Old 07-24-2014, 06:26 PM
 
Location: Columbus, OH
381 posts, read 484,631 times
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There seems to be confusion over whether unplugged devices, or motor vehicles, would be unscathed.

I hope FEMA has some kind of plan for what kind or measures the nation would need to be taken if we have, say 18 hours, until a massive CME were to impact the planet.
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Old 07-25-2014, 04:50 AM
 
Location: Wasilla, Alaska
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletchman View Post
There seems to be confusion over whether unplugged devices, or motor vehicles, would be unscathed.

I hope FEMA has some kind of plan for what kind or measures the nation would need to be taken if we have, say 18 hours, until a massive CME were to impact the planet.
If it carries an electrical charge, it would be effected by a large enough CME. However, it would have to be much larger than an X28 solar flare for the ionized particles to reach the surface of the planet. The 1859 Carrington event shorted out telegraph lines and the resulting auroras were visible as far south as Rome.

If vehicle batteries were disconnected during the event, then the vehicle should not be unaffected. If the vehicle is running, then it could fry the alternator, solenoid, or any one of a number of components receiving or generating an electrical charge at the time. If PCs are powered down and the internal battery removed, they should also be fine. With the internal battery still in place, you may have to replace the motherboard, or at the very least the BIOS flash memory and clock being powered by the battery.

Even when powered down many devices still carry an electrical charge to keep internal systems, like memory, functioning. These devices do not carry much of a charge, but if the CME is big enough, it may still fry those devices.
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Old 07-25-2014, 08:27 PM
 
Location: Columbus, OH
381 posts, read 484,631 times
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I understand there is a discussion taking place at the federal level (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) regarding protection of the largest transformers in the power grid.

Let's hope some progress gets made. At least protecting the largest transformers in the grid would be a start.
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Old 07-26-2014, 07:52 AM
 
Location: Wasilla, Alaska
17,850 posts, read 19,602,107 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletchman View Post
I understand there is a discussion taking place at the federal level (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) regarding protection of the largest transformers in the power grid.

Let's hope some progress gets made. At least protecting the largest transformers in the grid would be a start.
At the very least they will have ample warning when a CME is big enough to effect the grid and they can power down for the duration. It took 17.6 hours for the Carrington 1859 CME to reach Earth, and it was one of the fastest recorded. It also appears that the Carrington 1859 CME was two separate events:
"Auroral forms of all types and colors were observed below 50° latitude for ∼24 h on August 28–29 and ∼42 h on September 2–3." --- Duration and extent of the great auroral storm of 1859
Most X-class CMEs only last a few hours at most. If the Carrington 1859 CME lasted 24 hours in August and 42 hours in September, that had to be huge! I have never heard of a CME lasting as long as a day, much less almost two. I just hope a CME that size does not hit us during the winter. Alaskan winters can be brutal without power. If there is advance warning, I will gladly go without power for a couple of days if need be. It would be better than having to replace everything.
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Old 07-31-2014, 10:38 AM
 
Location: Londonderry, NH
41,505 posts, read 49,574,957 times
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The telegraph system was not destroyed because it was carrying electricity but because it acted as an antenna and the CME induced enough power into the wires to cause shorts to ground and the current melted the wires. These induced currents also destroyed miles of the recently introduced barbed wire fencing. Railroad tracks were not effected because they could carry the induced currents. Small electronic devices should not be effected unless they are connected to the power lines. A desktop PC could get fried but a cell phone would not be effected.

As mentioned the big transformers in the grid, unless isolated by a large air gap in the wires, could be destroyed by induced currents. As these things take years to build we (all the grid connected industrial economies) would be well and truly screwed. Nuclear power plants have enough standby power to keep the cooling systems operation until the system could be revised to generate enough power to keep itself operating.

The Result of a very large CMA would be we could all talk to each other but have nothing to say.
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Old 08-01-2014, 01:51 AM
 
Location: Allendale MI
2,532 posts, read 1,821,879 times
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Pretty much you want to where people don't loot stores and riot if one of these events happen.
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