Solar flares and wireless communications – how dangerous are our electronics?

On November 8, 2020, the sun exploded. Okay, so that’s a bit exciting (it blows up a lot) – but a particularly large sunspot called AR2781 produced a C5 solar flare which is a medium-sized blast even for the Sun. The flares range from A, B, C, M, and X on a scale of zero to nine in each category (or even higher than the giant X flares). So C5 is the dead center of the scale. You might not have noticed it, but if you live in Australia or around the Indian Ocean and you use radio frequencies below 10MHz, you will notice since the flare has occurred A 20-minute radio blackout on those frequencies.

to me NOAA Space Weather Prediction CenterSunspots have the energy to produce M-Class flares that are much more powerful. NOAA has it too A measure of radio disturbances Ranging from R1 (M1 glow) to R5 (X20 glow). The sunspot in question is currently facing Earth, so any new flares will cause more problems. This leads us to ask: What if there is a major disturbance to the radio?

This happens more often than you might think. In October, the AR2775 fired two incandescent C-flares, and while the plasma from the flare did not hit the ground, the UV rays caused the radio to be cut off briefly over South America. X-rays and ultraviolet rays travel at the same speed of light, so by the time we see a flare, it is too late to do anything about it, even if we can.

The effects are mostly related to the propagation of radio waves through the ionosphere. In the eighteenth century, who would care? However, in the middle of the twentieth century, a lot of things adopted the characteristic of high-frequency radio waves. Today, it might not matter much.

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If you own shortwave radio, you may have noticed that there is not much to listen to in terms of broadcasting as it has been for decades. Broadcasters who want to reach an international audience are using the internet to do so now unless they target a part of the world where the internet is scarce or restricted. Even AM Radio was not the mainstay it used to be. Many people listen to FM (which spreads differently), satellite radio, or broadcast audio from the Internet. Sure, this uses radio, but not ionosphere propagation.

Transcontinental

Perhaps the biggest commercial users of radio bands now are flying across the ocean and ships at sea, but even then, many of these uses now use satellites and much higher frequencies. Ham Radio operators are still around, of course, and so are some standard time and frequency stations like WWV. While there were some radio frequency navigation systems like LORAN and Gee, almost all of them disappeared in favor of GPS.

Would disabling these services be a big problem? Probably not, although if you are on a plane or at sea, you might feel a little nervous. Then again, it just depends on how important your radio is to you and how many alternatives you have.

Then again, really big events – the so-called Carrington events It can affect many electronics directly. The insurance industry believes damages could be as high as $ 2.6 trillion. Worried? You might be watching Space Weather Channel. If you’re interested in what the US government would do if we had another Carrington event, they have it All are written. Frankly, though, the plan appears to be, in short, making better predictions and developing new technology. FEMA has it Infographic Which confirms that solar flare can affect your toilet, although it appears that it will take some time for this to happen. Its excellent to read, however Unpublished note on this topic. The maps on pages 16 and 17 show where the power grid is exposed to geomagnetic storms, and is particularly interesting.

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