Wednesday, 1 September 2021

the carrington event

A powerful but not singular or anomalous geomagnetic storm, the largest in recorded history, resulted from a solar coronal mass ejection emanating from the Sun and colliding with the Earth’s magnetosphere began on this day in 1859, the flare disrupting telegraph communications and rudimentary electrical grids before itself fizzling out forty-eight hours later. Auroras, normally restricted to those climes with the circle of the poles, were visible all over the globe. Another Carrington-class—named for the amateur astronomer who was observing sunspot maxima and minima at the time and recorded the event—was narrowly missed in July of 2012, with the Earth’s orbit just barely outside the explosive flare. Scientists and actuaries estimate that the consequences of another direct strike from a CME today would summarily take out our vulnerable terrestrial and satellite-based networks, disabling power supplies and communication and requiring months and investments of trillions to restore.