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A Warning from History: The Carrington Event was not Unique — by Dr Tony Phillips

Dr. Tony Phillips is a professional astronomer and science writer, best known for his authorship of the always excellent Below is a shortened version of his article from Sept 1, 2020 entitled: A WARNING FROM HISTORY–THE CARRINGTON EVENT WAS NOT UNIQUE.

On Sept. 1st, 1859, the most ferocious solar storm in recorded history engulfed our planet. It was “the Carrington Event,” named after British scientist Richard Carrington, who witnessed the flare that started it. The storm rocked Earth’s magnetic field, sparked auroras over Cuba, the Bahamas and Hawaii, set fire to telegraph stations, and wrote itself into history books as the Biggest. Solar. Storm. Ever.

But, sometimes, what you read in history books is wrong.

“The Carrington Event was not unique,” says Hisashi Hayakawa of Japan’s Nagoya University, whose recent study of solar storms has uncovered other events of comparable intensity. “While the Carrington Event has long been considered a once-in-a-century catastrophe, historical observations warn us that this may be something that occurs much more frequently.”

Drawings of the Carrington sunspot by Richard Carrington on Sept. 1, 1859, and (inset) Heinrich Schwabe on Aug. 27, 1859. [Ref]

Many previous studies of solar superstorms leaned heavily on Western Hemisphere accounts, omitting data from the Eastern Hemisphere. A good example is the great storm of mid-September 1770, when extremely bright red auroras blanketed Japan and parts of China. Captain Cook himself saw the display from near Timor Island, south of Indonesia.

Hayakawa and colleagues recently found drawings of the instigating sunspot, and it is twice the size of the Carrington sunspot group — paintings, dairy entries, and other newfound records, especially from China, depict some of the lowest-latitude auroras ever, spread over a period of 9 days.

An eyewitness sketch of red auroras over Japan in mid-September 1770. [Ref]

“We conclude that the 1770 magnetic storm was comparable to the Carrington Event, at least in terms of auroral visibility,” wrote Hayakawa and colleagues in a 2017 Astrophysical Journal Letter. Moreover, “the duration of the storm activity was much longer than usual.”

Hayakawa’s team has delved into the history of other storms as well, examining Japanese diaries, Chinese and Korean government records, archives of the Russian Central Observatory, and log-books from ships at sea–all helping to form a more complete picture of events.

They found that superstorms in February 1872 and May 1921 were also comparable to the Carrington Event, with similar magnetic amplitudes and widespread auroras: “This is likely happening much more often than previously thought,” says Hayakawa.

Chinese report of a giant naked-eye sunspot group on February 9, 1872. [Ref]

We are overdue for another Carrington Event.

In fact, we likely just missed one.

In July 2012, NASA and European spacecraft watched an extreme solar storm erupt from the sun and narrowly miss Earth: “If it had hit,” announced Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado; “we would still be picking up the pieces.”

A modern-day Carrington Event would cause widespread power outages along with disruptions to navigation, air travel, banking, and all forms of digital communication. One is coming, and will most-likely coincide with the Sun’s ramp-up into Solar Cycle 25 — because while most solar physicists are calling for SC25 to be historically weak, during the cycle’s build towards its maximum –expected mid-2025– the release of violent solar flares and powerful coronal mass ejections (CMEs) is still possible.

Furthermore, and in a deeply unfortunate ‘double-whammy’, our planet’s magnetic field is waning rapidly and has been doing so since 1850. Earth’s magnetosphere is our protection against space weather, and in line with the coming magnetic excursion/reversal/pole shift (coupled with an intensifying GSM) this rapid waning has increased ten-fold over recent years:

The year 2023 is the current front-runner for the next Carrington Event: activity on the Sun should be sufficiently-firing by that point and will coincide with our shield (magnetic field) being further depleted.

However, forecasts are forecasts and only time will tell.

One thing is more certain, however — as Dr Phillips concludes:

“History books, let the re-write begin”.

The COLD TIMES are returning, the mid-latitudes are REFREEZING; in line with historically low solar activitycloud-nucleating Cosmic Rays, and a meridional jet stream flow; and both NOAA and NASA appear to agree, if you read between the lines, with NOAA saying we’re entering a ‘full-blown’ Grand Solar Minimum in the late-2020s, and NASA seeing this upcoming solar cycle (25) as “the weakest of the past 200 years”, with the agency correlating previous solar shutdowns to prolonged periods of global cooling here.

Prepare for the COLD— learn the facts, relocate if need be, and grow your own.

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Grand Solar Minimum + Pole Shift

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4 Thoughts to “A Warning from History: The Carrington Event was not Unique — by Dr Tony Phillips”

  1. Miss Kitty

    Wait, we had a major solar flare in 1921? How come we’ve never heard about it and its impact on the electrical grid?

      1. Miss Kitty

        That’s interesting. Would the electrical grid be more affected by such an event nowadays where everything is computerized/automated as opposed to guys changing tubes or however they did back then?

  2. Earth lasers’ plasma shield CAN prevent a devastating global blackout/all nuclear plants’ blasting by asteroid explosion (as in Tunguska-1908 & Chelyabinsk-2013) or solar storm hit!
    NINE times near-miss extinction so far: 1972, 1989, 2003, 2006, 2012, 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021

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