As we anticipate the solar activity from this particular solar cycle (solar cycle 24), it promises to be one on the most active in our lifetimes. It is important to look at the situation as it is unfolding. There has been much speculation on this issue, particularly since this cycle began much more quiet than anyone ever anticipated.
That is not necessarily a good thing as it may indicate “a building” pressure with Ole Sol’s furnace that will be released suddenly and with a vengeance. It does appear that solar cycle 24 is beginning to live up to predictions though these past several weeks .
Solar Cycle 24 “First” List
Here is a list of Solar Cycle 24 “firsts” in order to track the progression and timeline of SC24.
First “Magnetic Plage” of Cycle 24 – Dec 13, 2007
First “official” Cycle 24 Sunspot – Jan 4, 2008 (Sunspot 981)
First Solar Flux above 70 – Oct 11, 2008
First Solar Flux above 80 – Oct 26, 2009
First Solar Flux above 90 – Jan 11, 2010
First Solar Flux above 100 – Feb 13, 2011
First Solar Flux above 110 – Feb 14, 2011
First Solar Flux above 120 – Feb 18, 2011
First Solar Flux above 130 – Mar 5, 2011
First Solar Flux above 140 – Mar 6, 2011
First Solar Flux above 150 – Mar 7, 2011
First Solar Flux above 160 –
First Sunspot Number above 11 – Jan 4, 2008
First Sunspot Number above 20 – Nov 12, 2008
First Sunspot Number above 30 – Sept 23, 2009
First Sunspot Number above 40 – Dec 19, 2009
First Sunspot Number above 50 – Feb 7, 2010
First Sunspot Number above 60 – Feb 7, 2010
First Sunspot Number above 70 – Feb 8, 2010
First Sunspot Number above 80 – Feb 13, 2011
First Sunspot Number above 90 – Feb 14, 2011
First Sunspot Number above 100 – Feb 15, 2011
First Sunspot Number above 125 – March 8, 2011
First Sunspot Number above 150 –
First Solar Flare above B-Class – Nov 2, 2008 (Sunspot 1007)
First Solar Flare above C-Class – Dec 11, 2008 (Sunspot 1009)
First Solar Flare above M-Class – Jan 19, 2010 (Sunspot 1041)
First Solar Flare above X-Class – Feb 14, 2011 (Sunspot 1158)
First Solar Flare above X5+ –
First Solar Flare above X10+ –
First CME produced by a Sunspot causing a true Geomagnetic Storm – April 5, 2010 (KP = 7)
First Solar Radiation Storm caused by a Solar Flare – August 14, 2010 (S1 level caused by C4.4 Flare)
First Aurora contact made by VE3EN during a Geomagnetic Storm – VE2XK / April 6, 2010 (01:35 UTC)
OK, that’s cool science stuff, but why should this concern everyone? There are several things short of the life extinguishing massive flare that fries the entire planet and all living things on it. That, by the way, is NOT the most likely or feared outcome, although it could happen. We simply cannot predict that event.
First, we would lose all of the orbiting satellites. It is called a bake out. These satellites have no real protection from massive flares. This would have the most profound effect on military and weather satellites. Given the abnormally strong weather we have been experiencing, it would mean less of a warning of approaching storms, hurricanes, and cyclones. This will increase the loss of life and property damage from those approaching storms. Secondly, the civil unrest, wars, and rumors of wars would not be able to be tracked, monitored, and defended against as we do now.
Secondly, there would be a loss of global internet and cell communications. There will be massive disruptions to the internet and its associated role in carrying out the workings of the global economy. Given the current state of the global economy, this could prove to be the straw that collapses the entire global economy, as we know it. This is very likely to happen during this solar cycle.
Thirdly, and most importantly, there has never been a cycle this strong since the world’s power grid has been built. When the last solar flare above X5+ struck the earth, the only “electrical” grid was the telegraph system, and it was completely wiped out. This time the entire electrical grid will be fried. You have to think about this in terms of getting the grid back up and online. There simply are not enough transformer spares to accomplish even 5% of that goal. Are you prepared to live years without electricity? Most of us are not, but it also very likely (better odds than Vegas) that that is exactly what we may have to do and soon.
Lastly, the electro-magnetic impulses from these flares have a concussive effect on the planet and its tectonic plates. If a “big one” hits us just right we could be experiencing multiple earthquakes and volcanic eruptions at once. We have witnessed in just the past few years how a Banda Aceh, A Katrina, and now the Japanese earthquake are taxing the world’s response capabilities to disasters. What if events of that magnitude happened all at once? Again, this is a very likely scenario during this solar cycle.
All of the above scenarios are likely during this solar cycle. Being prepared to survive the outcome on an individual basis is the best defense. Having a few months supply of clean drinking water and food is a simple thing to accomplish. Preparing alternative heating sources for winter survival is also very doable. Simply ask yourself, are you ready? The other most critical element is to be AWARE of approaching events. There are several websites that monitor the sun’s activities. Here are a few links for you to watch. Solar Cycle 24 and SIDC and Space Weather Alerts. The good news is that if you are aware, you will have about three days notice of the approaching danger.