Solar storm could zap power grid in 2013

'2012' movie sparks hysteria in the blogosphere

Alarmist news reports earlier this year warned that solar storms coming in 2012 will cripple electric power, GPS equipment and communications systems for months, creating an electronic apocalypse not dreamt of since the days of pre-Y2k hysteria. Those reports then spread throughout a blogosphere already saturated with hype about the Hollywood disaster flick 2012 .

The truth is more complicated.

Solar storms bombard the Earth's magnetic field with bursts of radiation, which can in turn disrupt the power grid and satellites. In fact, "the great geomagnetic storm of March 1989" zapped northeastern Canada's Hydro-Quebec power grid, leaving millions of people without electricity for up to nine hours, according to a National Academy of Sciences report .

In a worst-case scenario, a solar storm could cause $1 trillion to $2 trillion in damage to the world's high-tech infrastructure, the 2008 report said.

But the severity of the next solar storm is unclear, as is the timing.

Several years ago, NASA predicted that the peak in the next cycle of solar weather would occur in 2012 -- a date that coincidentally aligned with other forecasts of doom. The space agency's more recent prediction (made May 29) said the peak for sunspot activity will be in May 2013 -- though additional revisions are expected.

So data center managers need to keep an eye on space weather, just as they keep an eye on terrestrial weather. Check out the National Weather Service's Space Weather Prediction Center at www.swpc.noaa.gov .

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mitch Betts

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?