A group of scientists have put the world on alert that a massive solar flare could happen within the next two years that could harm power grids, communications, and satellites around the world. The scientists say that the risk of a massive flare that could harm systems on the earth increase as the sun reaches the peak of its 10-year activity cycle. The scientists say "governments are taking it very seriously."
According to scientist Mike Hapgood, who specializes in space weather at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, solar storms are more commonly being placed on national risk registers used for disaster planning along with events such as tsunamis and volcanic eruption. Hapgood warns that while solar flares are rare, when they happen consequences on earth could be catastrophic. Magnetically-charged plasma thrown from the surface of the sun can have a significant impact on earth.
The chance of a massive solar storm is about 12% for every decade. According to the scientists, the last major solar storm was over 150 years ago, and the odds say that a massive solar storm occurs approximately once in every 100 years. The fear is that these massive solar storms could melt transformers within national power grids, destroy or damage satellites, knockout radio communications, and more.
The largest solar storm ever recorded happened in 1859. British astronomer Richard Carrington observed a large solar eruption, and the geomagnetic storms caused by the eruption took 17 hours to reach the earth. According to reports from 1859, the solar storm is so massive that the aurora borealis was seen as far south as the Caribbean. Had such an event happened in modern times with satellites in orbit, the consequences could have been disastrous.