Will 2024 be the year of the solar storm?  “Then electrically charged misery comes our way.”

Will 2024 be the year of the solar storm? “Then electrically charged misery comes our way.”

“There's something in our way.”

This week is already an exciting week, says space weather researcher Van Dam, because of a solar storm. “There is something coming our way, but the forecast is much more uncertain than in normal weather. So I don't know exactly when it will hit the ground and how severe it will be.”

Science journalist Diedrick Jekyll explains that the Sun is a swirling mass of electrically charged particles that create a magnetic field. This field creates greater motion in the particles, eventually allowing them to break free and fly toward us at speeds of millions of kilometers per hour. The good thing is that it can cause the Northern Lights, but it can also have negative consequences. “Then a lot of electrically charged misery will come our way.”

Solar storm

A solar storm is a collective term for different phenomena, Van Dam says. There are solar flares that are relatively harmless. They are bright flashes of light that emit X-rays and radio waves. Then there is a coronal mass ejection and a particle storm in which protons are fired at high speed. If such a solar flare, coronal mass ejection or molecular storm were directed toward Earth, it would have effects in our atmosphere.

Satellites burned

In 2022, a solar flare knocked out radio and GPS signals. Elon Musk's SpaceX lost 40 out of 49 Starlink satellites due to this geomagnetic storm.

In 1859 there was also a major geomagnetic storm, during which the northern lights were seen as far as Hawaii. Telegraphs were electrocuted and fires broke out in 1921. In 1989, a solar flare left six million people without electricity.

See also  “It is important to eat food that has not traveled the world” | Stories behind the news

In 1967, air interference caused problems with the radar systems the Americans used to monitor the Russians. Some senior officers believe their radar systems have been deliberately jammed.

Warning system

Nowadays, governments have established warning services, such as KNMI. The goal is to inform and prepare vital sectors. Van Dam explains that 2024 is an additional wake-up year. “We are at solar peak and we often have northern lights, sometimes even in the Netherlands.”

While forecasting a solar storm sounds very exciting, forecasting is often bureaucratic. “Critical sectors are being warned via the Departmental Crisis Management Coordination Center,” says Van Dam. “From there, electricity supplies and utilities are informed of the potential consequences of severe storms.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *