What is solar cycle24, why is it important to BC and does it mean we should all have our own backup alternative energy supply?
The sun has historically had an 11 year cycle where solar energy rises and falls and is currently beginning the upswing of cycle 24, after an unusually low period of activity from 2007 to 2009.
Why should this cycle have any more effect on the electrical grid than others?
Scientists who study the magnetic shield have noticed it has been declining for some 2000 years and the speed of decline increased some 500 years ago. What has baffled scientists is that the decrease is happening much quicker than all their computer modelling predicts. It has weakened as much as 10% since 1900. The decline is faster than if all the molten iron in the core just stopped spinning. The field has declined so much it has become erratic.
When the data from the themes satellites was analyzed experts were shocked to find a huge gap in the earths magnetic shield in the south Atlantic. This gap is allowing far more charged particles from the sun to reach the atmosphere than if the gap did not exist. The gap is growing but because the sun has been relatively quiet the last few years the effects have been minimal.
Something else observed stunned astrophysicists. They had long believed that if the suns magnetic shield and the earths were aligned then the earths field would be strengthened, but they found the exact opposite is true. Up to 20 times more solar particles can reach the atmosphere when they are aligned.
This is why solar cycle 24 may be so important to Canada. When a new cycle starts the suns magnetic field reverses, this is what happened in January 2008 when cycle 24 began. Now the earths and the suns magnetic fields are aligned.
Solar activity is expected to peak in 2012 and is expected to be one of the strongest periods in decades. Solar activity is blamed for the huge power outages in Quebec in 1989 and the combination of weakened magnetic shield, magnetic field alignment and stronger than average solar activity has many experts fearing the worst. A cascading collapse of the North American power grid.
So even if it is a portable generator, having some home alternative energy may be a good idea in 2012.