A survey of 144 space weather experts shows that the overwhelming majority of them believe that we know little about the activity of the Sun, and we should expect catastrophic events that can permanently disable communications and power grids on Earth.
What experts say about the Sun
The University of Reading and the Apollo Academic Surveys company recently published a survey of 144 specialists in the field of space weather and solar research. They were asked to answer several questions concerning the prediction of the activity of our luminary and the events on Earth that it may cause.
90 percent of respondents believe that without an accurate prediction of solar activity, the Earth will suffer significant losses, which will primarily be associated with the failure of satellites. Four out of five respondents also believe that they can cause power outages similar to those that occurred recently at an oil well in Canada.
About half of the respondents believe that modern methods of predicting space weather simply cannot predict the catastrophe that the Sun can cause. 51 percent of experts believe that future magnetic storms may reach a scale that exceeds anything that people have seen so far, including the Carrington Event in 1859.
Experts give a 33 percent probability that in the next 10 years, at least one region of the earth will be de-energized for some time as a result of a large-scale flare. In addition, 40 percent of respondents doubt that modern forecasting methods are able to accurately predict even those events that occur constantly on the sun.
Why can the consequences of a powerful flare be catastrophic?
Magnetic storms on Earth are caused by the Sun, or rather, flares on it. People have already learned a lot about how they arise, but they have not received a definitive answer to the question of how powerful they can be.
The activity of our luminary changes during the 11-year cycle. However, the last few such periods during which people received most of the available information were relatively calm. But the current cycle, on the contrary, shows increased activity.
And this is very worrying for scientists. After all, they have evidence that much more powerful flares have occurred in the past. And during the period of reduced activity, we have built all modern telecommunications and electrical networks. Almost our entire civilization is based on them, and we don’t even know if they will survive a truly powerful magnetic storm.
What to do?
In addition to questions about the danger, experts were asked to give their thoughts on how it could be reduced. For this, they were asked what could be done if USD 1 billion were allocated to combat it. For this, they were asked what could be done if USD 1 billion were allocated to combat it.
Some scientists have spoken out in favor of launching a whole constellation of small probes to the sun for this money, which will work next to the Sun and help better track flares. Others called for the creation of a ground-based network of telescopes and new analytical centers.
According to phys.org
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