- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Now you tell us. Solar blasts that would have wreaked havoc on electrical grids and caused trillions of dollars in damage just missed earth in 2012, scientists say.

The journal Nature Communications released the findings on Tuesday, Reuters reported. The authors likened the event to a 19th century blast, which was the largest solar magnetic storm ever reported on the planet.


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“Had it hit Earth, it probably would have been like the big one in 1859, but the effect today, with our modern technologies, would have been tremendous,” said University of California, Berkeley research physicist Janet Luhmann.

Ms. Luhman worked on the study with China’s State Key Laboratory of Space Weather professor Ying Liu and their colleagues.


The event, first detected by NASA’s STEREO A spacecraft, could have done $2.6 trillion in damage to the economy, Reuters reported.

Ms. Luhmann told Reuters that, had the solar storm’s ejections lined up with earth, electrical transformers would have burst into flames and global positioning satellites would have been affected.

“We [now] have the opportunity to really look closely at one of these events in all of its glory and look at why in this instance was so extreme,” Luhmann said.