Cosmic Log - Solar cycle sparks doomsday buzz: "Don’t panic over those reports that solar storms could cause high-tech disruptions in 2013. But don’t ignore them either. That’s the word from NASA Headquarters' top guy for solar science.
Concerns about the potential for an unprecedented assault from space were stoked last week by a report in London's Telegraph, warning that a super storm could cause 'catastrophic consequences for the world's health, emergency services and national security unless precautions are taken.'
The warnings focus on the 2012-2013 time frame, because that's when the 11-year solar activity cycle is expected to peak. Back in 2006, solar scientists said the coming peak, known as solar maximum or 'solar max,' could be 30 to 50 percent stronger than the last one, based on a computer model that looked at how plasma circulates between the sun's equator and its poles.
Since then, additional reports have added to the concern: In 2008, a National Academy of Sciences study said a severe geomagnetic storm could cause $2 trillion in damage and require as much as a decade of recovery time. In comparison, the damage estimate for Hurricane Katrina is a mere $80 billion or so.
Amid all the hype about a 2012 Maya apocalypse, there's been increasing talk about the potential for a solar superstorm on the scale of 1859's 'Carrington event,' which shorted out telegraph wires, sparked fires and set off auroral displays as far south as Cuba. The fear is that the damage would be more severe in this world of GPS navigation, satellite communications and mobile devices.
The Telegraph's article quoted Richard Fisher, the head of NASA's Heliospheric Division at the space agency's Washington headquarters, as saying that a superstorm would 'cause major problems for the world.'
'It will disrupt communication devices such as satellites and car navigation, air travel, the banking system, our computers, everything that is electronic,' he told the Telegraph..."