TSS EXCLUSIVE: The Perfect Storm – Solar Events That Have Potential To Black Out Entire Cities
by Karma Lei Angelo
It’s Spring 2026 in the Northern Hemisphere.
A massive storm in the atmosphere sends electrical currents rushing to the ground, taking out power grids across Europe, Canada, and parts of the northern United States. Nearly one third of the world goes dark.
The blackout strands motorists in traffic, traps pedestrians in subway cars in darkened tunnels, and taxes back-up generators at hospitals, first-responder stations, and other important buildings. Space shuttles are grounded as sensors pick up unusually high-pressure readings. Airplanes, especially those close to the poles, experience equipment failures in mid-flight.
Electric grids in unaffected areas take up the slack and try to push electricity and power to the blackout zones, but they are unable to handle the load. Hundreds of power grid problems arise across thousands of miles in just a matter of a few minutes.
The problem is not terrestrial either. Radio transmissions go on the fritz. Thousands of communication satellites register hundreds of anomalies as sensitive equipment are fried, destroyed, or temporarily go offline. Some satellites lose their bearings or stability and start spiraling out of control or colliding with other space debris. The International Space Station goes dark—its occupants’ lives unknown.
但问题也不在于地球,无线电通讯失灵了导致数千颗通信卫星记录了数百个异常情况，因为敏感设备被烧毁或暂时关闭, 一些卫星失去了 方向或稳定性,开始失去控制或与其他空间碎片相撞，国际空间站进入黑暗一- -其居住 者的生活更是未知。
Over the next few days, millions of smartphones stop working. Internet is disabled. Cell-towers stand like decrepit scarecrows. Riots and anarchy have left gas stations and grocery stores in ruin. Hundreds of black smoke columns reach skyward across multiple countries as transformers and sections of cities burn. Millions of people remain without electricity and when the totals are done on the damage left in the wake of this storm, it’s well over the trillion dollar mark.
在接下来的几天里，数以百万计的智能手机停止工作,而且互联网是禁用的,基站就像像破旧的稻草人一一样:骚乱和无政 府状态导致加油站和杂货店一-片狼藉; 随着变形的金属和部分城市的燃烧，数百根黑烟柱直冲云霄而跨越多个国家，但数 以百万计的人仍然没有电，当风暴过后的损失统计完毕，超过了万亿美元。
This was not an attack by a foreign invader set to start the next World War. This was not sabotage or anarchists looking for the next apocalyptic thrill. And this was not a new phenomenon or unprecedented mass event.
这不是- -场由外国侵略者发起的准备发动下一次世界大战的袭击，这不是什么蓄意破坏，也不是什么无政府主义者在寻找 界末日的刺激，这不是什么新现象，也不是什么前所未有的大事件。
A natural storm like this happened in March 1989 and another one in September 1859, though the world was much less techno-centric back then. Called the Quebec Blackout and the Carrington Event, respectively, these catastrophes happened all because of the Sun.
The Sun goes through 11-year solar cycles where it has active storms and sunspots at its peak (called the solar maximum) and around 5.5 years later has no spots or activity at its lowest point (called the solar minimum). As of 2020, the Sun is at the latter.
When solar maximums happen, sunspots are very prominent and can create powerful solar storms. These storms can hurl immense clouds of magnetized particles into space at over a million miles per hour. These magnetized expulsions of plasma are called coronal mass ejections (CMEs). Sometimes, these CMEs are pointed towards the Earth and can slam into the atmosphere from as soon as 18 hours or as late as 3 days after an ejection, depending on speed, size, and direction.
The results of CMEs smacking into the Earth can be seen in the form of aurora borealis (Northern Lights) or aurora australis (Southern Lights). The majority of the time, these natural light shows can be seen close to the poles and are frequently visible in Norway, Iceland, and Canada. In an event such as the Quebec Blackout or Carrington Event, this massive solar event can be seen as far south as Florida and parts of Mexico.
CMEs撞击地球的结果可以以北极光(北极光)或南极光(南极光)的形式看到。在大多数情况下,这些自然光可以在靠近极地 的地方看到，在挪威、冰岛和加拿大经常可以看到。在像魁北克大停电或卡灵顿事件这样的事件中,这种大规模的太阳活 动可以被看到远在佛罗里达州和墨西哥的部分地区。
In the case of the Carrington Event, a “solar flare with the energy of nearly 10 billion atomic bombs” was unleashed towards the Earth. The resulting aurora was so bright birds and people thought it was morning from the sun rising, unplugged batteries could still transmit messages, and telegraph stations were charged with resulting currents traveling through the wires to the point they were in danger of melting.
在卡灵顿事件( Carrington Event)中，-颗”具有近100亿颗原子弹能量的太阳耀斑”向地球释放，因而由此产生的极光是 如此的明亮，以至于人们以为是太阳升起的早晨，不插电的电池仍然可以传输信息，而电报站则被充电，通过电线传输产 生的电流都达到了有融化危险的程度。
More challenges were faced with the Quebec Blackout. A CME the size of 36 Earths ripped from the Sun’s surface and headed to the pale blue dot. Satellites suffered electronic glitches, transformers were destroyed, and Canada’s Hydro-Quebec power utility’s grid failed from the power overload caused by currents traveling through the ground.
魁北克停电带来了更多的挑战:一个36个地球大小的日冕物质抛离太阳表面，朝淡蓝色的小点飞去，卫星出现了电子故 障、变压器被毁;加拿大魁北克水利电力公司( Hydro-Quebec power utility )的电网因电流通过地面造成的电力过载而瘫痪。
The Day the Earth Stood Still
What would happen to modern infrastructure and technology if a solar storm such as either of these were to happen? In addition to some of the possible problems listed in the scenario at the beginning of this article, the world could face many pressing challenges:
– Geomagnetically induced currents (GICs) would contribute to the rusting and corrosiveness of oil and gas pipelines, causing potential environmental disasters.
– Military defense systems used to track missiles or provide surveillance could go offline or—worse yet—an enemy could take advantage of the chaos and launch an offense.
– An extreme blackout could cause an economic fallout and damages could reach upwards of nearly $42 billion in loss per day.
Perhaps even worse: a massive CME can heat up the Earth’s atmosphere. The gases in the upper stratosphere would expand, moving outward. This would cause the air density to increase around satellites and spacecraft, causing more drag and altitude loss in their orbits. It could result in satellites re-entering the atmosphere and burning up.
The Earth would go silent and dark.
How can countries protect themselves from this type of natural disaster?
The first line of defense is better understanding of the behavior of the Sun and quicker detection of CMEs. In December 2019, the Inouye Solar Telescope began providing some of the most detailed images so far as seen in this video. One of the goals of this telescope is to see and measure the magnetic fibrils (the basic magnetic structures) on the Sun’s surface and within its outer atmosphere. This will help scientists quantify, predict, and better understand solar magnetism and astrophysical plasmas.
第一道防线是更好地了解太阳的行为和更快地探测到日冕物质抛射，在2019年12月，井上太阳望远镜( Inouye Solar Telescope )开始提供一些迄今 为止在这段视频中看到最详细的图像，该望远镜的目标之一是观察和测量太阳表面和外部大 气中的磁性纤维(基本的磁性结构);这将有助于科学家量化、预测和更好地理解太阳磁和天体物理等离子体。
And, in February 2020, ESA teamed up with NASA to launch the Solar Orbiter, a spacecraft that will provide unprecedented images and data from unexplored polar regions of the Sun. It will also study solar winds, the origin of the corona’s magnetic field, and the physics behind the solar surface’s plasma.
在2020年2月，欧洲航天局(ESA)与美国国家航空航天局( NASA)合作发射了太阳轨道飞行器.-艘 能够提供来自太 阳极地地区前所未有的图像和数据的航天器， 还将研究太阳风、 日冕磁场的起源以及太阳表面等离子体背后的物理学。
The second strategy is more hypothetical. Scientists Manasvi Lingam and Abraham Loeb from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics propose building a colossal magnetic solar shield. This shield would be placed at Lagrangian Points in space where gravitation pulls between celestial objects—such as the Sun and Earth or Earth and Moon—are at their weakest. It would, theoretically, be able to deflect charged particles away from the Earth and could be finished by the end of the century. However, the cost of such a project may be seen as prohibitive and could shelve such a plan.
第二种策略更具假设性- — 哈佛-史密森天体物理 中心的科学家马纳斯维林根和亚伯拉罕勒布建议建造一个巨大的磁性太阳 盾,这个防护盾将被放置在拉格朗日点上，在这些点上太阳和地球或地球和月球等天体之间的引力是最弱的，理论上它可 以使带电粒子偏离地球,并可能在本世纪末完成,然而这样一一个项目的成本可能会被视为令人望而却步并可能搁置这样一个计划。
A more localized strategy could be accomplished at home. Families and individuals could protect their electronic devices with a Faraday cage. Faraday cages work like vehicles and aircraft: the exterior metal “cage” or chamber keeps electromagnetic fields away from the objects within. Or, in reverse, the same way a microwave functions by trapping electrical waves within the container and protecting everything on the outside. A large enough cage or cages would need to be built to protect value electronics including external drives, computers, smartphones, or other IoT devices.
更本地化的战略可以在国内完成;家庭和个人可以用法拉第笼保护他们的电子设备;法拉第笼的工作原理类似于车辆和飞 机:外部的金属”笼”或腔体使电磁场远离内部物体，或者反过来，就像微波通过在容器内捕获电波并保护容器外的–切一 样，这就需要建造-一个足够大的笼子来保护价值电子产品 :其中就包括外部驱动器、电脑、智能手机或其他物联网设备。
The Day After Tomorrow
It is highly probable that a large solar storm or CME event such as the Carrington Event and Quebec Blackout will occur again. It is unknown if that will happen this century or the next. It is also unknown the scope of damage to electrical equipment or duration of outages that could occur across the globe.
What is known is that a global economic fallout would cost the world billions of dollars per day and trillions before everything returns to normal. What is also known is that scientists are working to understand heliocentric activities and better predict and prepare the Earth before the next perfect storm hits.
我们所知道的是全球经济衰退将使全球每天损失数十亿美元，在- -切恢复正常之前损失数万亿美元，我们还知道科学家们 正在努力了解日心活动并在下一次”完美风暴”到来之前更好地预测和准备地球。