Warning that ‘super solar storm’ causing $10 trillion damage ‘could hit in next decade’

Solar storm Rex

A ‘super solar storm’ could burn out power stations, cut water supplies, and leave satellites dead in the skies – and there is a one in ten chance of one hitting Earth in the next decade, scientists have said.

The only account of a ‘super storm’ striking Earth comes from more than 150 years ago – when a Victorian scientist, Richard Carrington, described an eruption known as ‘the Carrington event’.

In 1859, there were no telephones and satellites, but the power of the storm devastated communications – telegraph wires around the world burnt out, and some operators reported sheets of paper catching fire.

In a paper published to pre-print science site ArXiv, the researchers write, ‘if the Carrington event were to occur now, it would wreak significant damage to electrical power grids, global supply chains and satellite communications.

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‘The cumulative worldwide economic losses could reach up to $10 trillion dollars, and a full recovery is expected to take several years.’

Particles traveling from the Sun have wreaked havoc on Mars, NASA says.

There’s a roughly 10% chance this sort of event could occur in the next decade, the researchers say – who call for a magnetic shield to protect Earth.

Such a shield would cost up to $100 billion to put into orbit – but that would be cheap next to the costs if it is not done, the researchers say.

The researchers write, ‘The total cost involved in lifting a 100,000 ton object into space would be around $100 billion, assuming that the payload coast per kg is $1000.

‘This value is comparable to the total cost of the International Space Station, and is 3-4 orders of magnitude lower than the current world GDP, or the economic damage from a flare ~100 years henceforth.’

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