By Richard Gray

The British government has released its Space Weather Preparedness Strategy warning of a major solar storm that could trigger power cuts and travel disruption. GPS systems could be down for up to 3 days, resulting in widespread chaos. The report urges the public to prepare for the storm in the same way as other disasters.

The report warns that GPS systems could go down for up to three days at a time, leaving train networks and shipping badly affected.

While mobile phones and landlines are expected to be unaffected, satellite communication and high frequency radio communication used by shipping and aircraft, could also go down for several days.

Power grids could also be effected, leading to black outs in some areas.

The document warns that the most harmful element of severe space weather is a major coronal mass ejection, where huge eruptions blast high energy particles out into space.

It also warns that major solar flares – caused by a build-up of magnetic energy that releases blasts of radiation across the solar system, can also pose a risk.

The report states: ‘Space weather results from solar activity. Solar activity can produce X-rays, high energy particles and Coronal Mass Ejections of plasma.

‘Where such activity is directed towards Earth there is the potential to cause wide-ranging impacts.

‘These include power loss, aviation disruption, communication loss, and disturbance to (or loss) of satellite systems.’

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