Major Space Storms Could Generate Large Financial Losses

Financial losses of major space storms could surpass losses of events like Katrina 

The financial impacts of major space storms could surpass that of events like Hurricane Katrina, with widespread damage to radio communications, power grids, spacecraft, and satellite navigation, according to analysis by Bloomberg Intelligence. 

In the first week of May 2024, a barrage of large solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) launched clouds of charged particles and magnetic fields towards the Earth. This followed prior warnings by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). 

CMEs consist of bursts of plasma and magnetic fields from the sun’s corona, with the capability to trigger magnetic storms on Earth. 

This combined to create the strongest solar storms to reach in two decades and displays of auroras on record in the past 500 years according to NASA. 

G5 classification for the storm represents the highest level on space weather prediction centre’s geomagnetic storm warning scale.  

This is for good reason, as storms at this level have the potential to lead to serious disruptions in key infrastructure, including communications, electric power grids, navigation systems, radio frequencies and satellite operations. 

Last time a similar storm occurred was in October 2003, resulting in power outages in Sweden and inflicting damage on transformers in South Africa. 

This is why many nations including the UK regard space storms as being a high priority natural hazard on the National Risk Register. 

“Evidence from May 10-12 suggests the level of disruption caused by the solar storm on this occasion was relatively modest. There were no significant power failures, though extreme deviations in electrical wave patterns were widely observed across the US. Elon Musk’s Space X Starlink internet constellation reported a degraded service, but it quickly returned to normal.” Says Charles Graham, a Bloomberg Intelligence, Senior Industry Analyst, as quoted in Reinsurance News. 

This disruption can create in Graham’s view, sufficient damage “to result in navigational errors in tractors and other equipment relying on GPS and drove some farmers in US and Canada to halt planning, Aircraft were also diverted to reduce the exposure of passengers and crew to radiation. 

Post Date: 11/06/2024

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