So­lar storms added to na­tional se­cu­rity risks

The Washington Times Daily - - World -

LONDON | Bri­tain has added vol­ca­noes and so­lar storms to floods, flu and ter­ror­ism on a list of threats to na­tional se­cu­rity.

The high­est-pri­or­ity risks to Bri­tain are pan­demic in­fluenza, coastal flood­ing, ter­ror­ist at­tacks and — an ad­di­tion — vol­canic erup­tions in coun­tries such as Ice­land, ac­cord­ing to the 2012 edi­tion of the gov­ern­ment’s Na­tional Risk Reg­is­ter for Civil Emer­gen­cies.

“Se­vere space weather” poses a threat to com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tems, elec­tronic cir­cuits and power grids, the list said.

So­lar storms — erup­tions of mag­netic en­ergy and charged par­ti­cles — are part of the sun’s nor­mal 11year cy­cle, which is ex­pected to reach a peak next year.

The storms can’t hurt peo­ple but can dis­turb elec­tric grids, GPS sin­stru­ments and satel­lites.

In 1989, a strong so­lar storm knocked out the power grid in Que­bec, cut­ting electricity to 6 mil­lion peo­ple.

Last week, the strong­est so­lar storm since 2004 passed with­out ma­jor dis­rup­tions.

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