Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Problem of Solar Storms and their effects here on Earth

Though I have quoted this following info before inThe present and ongoing problem of Solar Flares a
here is a 2nd quote from the same source that I am quoting because of the pipeline planned from Canada to Houston, Texas and the effects primarily of increased corrosion that will be caused by solar storms if and when it is built.
 begin quote from above website in montana
Solar Storms By Sten Odenwald
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, March 10, 1999; Page H01
For thousands of years, the aurora borealis or "northern lights" have lit the skies and human imagination with ghostly incandescence. Most often seen in Arctic regions but occasionally visible as far south as the Mediterranean, they have inspired awe, fright and a fair measure of misunderstanding.
Tiberius Caesar mistook their red glows for a fire in progress and dispatched an army to Ostia in 34 A.D. to inspect damage. But until the 19th century, no one seriously thought that they could hurt anybody -- unless, as an Old Norse legend warned, you happened to whistle at one!
Now we know better. Technological advances have made it possible for auroras and other "storms" in space to make themselves felt in the form of power blackouts, satellite failures and even pipeline explosions.
Space weather generally varies with the 11-year sunspot cycle: the more sunspots, the more storms and the more voluminous the "solar wind," as scientists call the stream of charged particles that incessantly blows off the face of the sun. Already, we are well on the way to the next solar maximum, expected to peak next year.
The maximum usually coincides with an increase in two other kinds of extremely bad "space weather." In one, powerful solar flares hurl protons and electrons almost to the speed of light. That acceleration produces blasts of X-rays that radiate into space. Both the particles and radiation can disrupt short-wave communication on Earth.
Were that not enough, the sun also can spawn billion-ton clouds of plasma and their associated magnetic fields. Traveling at more than 1 million mph, some of these "coronal mass ejections" (CMEs) may arrive at the Earth in only a few days.
In many ways, they actually are more noxious than the more familiar solar flares. CMEs pummel Earth's magnetic field like a sledgehammer 1 million miles wide and upset the delicate balances of trapped particles in the Van Allen radiation belts and elsewhere within the boundaries of Earth's magnetic field. [See illustration below].
The first indication that space weather has worsened usually is a spectacular auroral display in Arctic regions. When the solar wind hits the Earth's magnetic field, electrons and protons inside the field are accelerated into currents that flow along the gossamer-thin magnetic field lines and converge on the polar regions.
As they enter the thickening atmosphere about 500 miles above our heads, the particles collide with atoms and molecules of oxygen and nitrogen, which shed their added energy as light, producing ethereal shapes and colors.
But that's not all. The motion of other populations of charged particles within Earth's magnetic field causes great currents of charged particles to circulate in space like a 10,000-mile-wide river. These invisible stratospheric rivers can alter the geomagnetic field temporarily and produce "magnetic storms."
Humanity began feeling the effects of the solar maximum as soon as technology became sophisticated enough to respond. During the late 1800s, vast networks of wires were strung to carry telegraph and telephone traffic, setting the stage for a giant-scale reenactment of one of history's most famous physics experiments.
English physicist Michael Faraday discovered in his lab that, if you take a magnet and move it near a loop of wire, electrical current flows in the wire. The moving field induced a corresponding motion of charge in the wire. Faraday's "magnetic induction" soon was put to use in the first electric generator.
Exactly the same thing happened when solar storms triggered changes in Earth's magnetism, affecting thousands of miles of telegraph wires. Electrical currents induced by the changing fields often were so powerful that telegraphers didn't need battery power to send their information. Some operators were even treated to near-electrocution!
Placing wires under the ocean made no difference. In the Atlantic cable between Scotland and Newfoundland, 2,600-volt surges were recorded during a magnetic storm in March 1940. Short-wave broadcasts often were blocked for hours, and "technical difficulties" were expected and even jokingly tolerated.
Some effects of solar storms were far beyond the nuisance level, especially at higher latitudes. In August 1972, a 230,000-volt transformer at the British Columbia Hydroelectric Authority blew up when shifting magnetic fields induced a current spike. On March 13, 1989, a storm plunged Quebec into a complete power blackout, affecting millions.
Over the years, such failures -- which follow the sunspot cycle -- have caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.
Earlier in this decade, the North American Electric Reliability Council, which oversees the entire U.S. electrical grid, estimated that a storm only slightly stronger than the one that hit Quebec could cascade into the United States. Such a disruption then would have cost the U.S. economy between $3 billion and $6 billion, about the damage inflicted by Hurricane Hugo in September 1989.

Long uninterrupted pipelines also can bring solar storms "down to Earth." Magnetic storm currents acting on pipelines are known to enhance the rate of corrosion over time, with potentially catastrophic cumulative effects.
On June 4, 1989, a gas pipeline explosion demolished part of the Trans-Siberian Railway, engulfing two passenger trains in flames and killing 500 people.
Unlike the Siberian pipeline, the Alaskan oil pipeline built during the mid-1970s is a newer technology specifically designed to minimize corrosive currents now well known to modern pipeline engineers.
Since the last solar maximum in 1990, hundreds of millions of people have come to depend on flawless, reliable work by an armada of satellites worth tens of billions of dollars. They are increasingly vulnerable.
In orbit above the protective layers of the atmosphere, they are prey to potentially hazardous dosages of radiation. The most destructive element seems to be high-energy electrons that penetrate deep into a spacecraft and affect delicate electronics.
Data bits in critical control programs can change suddenly from "1" to "0" or vice versa. The resulting false commands can put satellites into unplanned, and even fatal, operating modes.
In addition, many satellites have attitude control systems that sense the direction of Earth's magnetic field to determine up from down. During magnetic storms, polarities can change abruptly, causing satellites to upend themselves.
The list of major satellites incapacitated by adverse space weather is long and costly. Recent examples include an AT&T Telstar 401 satellite that experienced a massive power failure in 1997 only days after a solar storm arrived at Earth.
Last May, PanAmSat's Galaxy IV satellite, insured for $165 million, mysteriously lost attitude control and halted service for 45 million pagers in North America. Several new Motorola Iridium satellites suffered attitude control failures about the same time. In 1998, satellite insurance companies paid $1.8 billion in claims, of which half was for satellite failures in orbit. end quote.

So, like it says above during magnetic storms, satellites can upend themselves (turn upside down) and cause various kinds of failures. Pipelines can  for example, blow up like " On June 4, 1989, a gas pipeline explosion demolished part of the Trans-Siberian Railway, engulfing two passenger trains in flames and killing 500 people." And ways had to be developed to stop or reduce pipeline explosions and to reduce corrosion over the years. Also, because of software bits easily shifted from "zeros to ones" or vice versa, GPS satellites that all Aircraft flying IFR depend on(as well as ships traveling in fog or heavy storms) cannot be trusted 100% at all times, just like any computer cannot be considered "infallible" because of slipped "Zeros and ones" in software that happen all the time, more on some days than others. (This is one reason to reinstall programs from CD's or DVD or other non-magnetic media periodically), because non-magnetic media is less likely to corrupt except from scratching or breaking or heat from a heater or the too much direct sunlight on a hot day.

So, what I'm saying here is that GPS co-ordinates cannot be considered to be infallible anymore than you would consider your  GPS unit in your car infallible.  For me, I have noticed that a GPS unit in a car is correct about 80% or more of the time and sometimes they reach 95% in some cities some of the time. I think GPS in general cannot be expected to achieve accuracy above that. So, that is why radar is so important to passenger flights both onboard radar on planes and radar from the ground as well as two way communications regarding this radar.

Once again an important quote from this article: THE PIPELINE PROBLEM
Long uninterrupted pipelines also can bring solar storms "down to Earth." Magnetic storm currents acting on pipelines are known to enhance the rate of corrosion over time, with potentially catastrophic cumulative effects.

No comments: