London: A likely solar storm in 2012,
coinciding with the Olympics in London, could disrupt all
communication systems on earth, including live broadcasting of
the mega-sporting event, scientists have warned.
"The sun's activity has a strong influence on the earth.
Space weather can affect the whole population. The Olympics
could be bang in the middle of the next solar maximum which
could affect the transmissions of satellites," said Professor
Richard Harrison, head of space physics at the Rutherford
Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire.
The warning comes in the wake of scientists detecting the
signs of a fresh cycle of sunspots on the sun's surface that
could lead to a solar storm.
Harrison said: "The Sun is now waking up. The first
significant active regions of a new solar activity cycle are
forming. In the last two weeks, we have seen the first major
flares of a new cycle".
The scientists warn that at the peak of the cycle, the
flares erupting from the surface of the sun could fling
billions of tonnes of electrically-charged matter towards the
earth that could result in a communications blackout.
They predict that the cycle would be at its peak during
2012 when the Olympics are scheduled and fear that the ensuing
solar storm could jam telecommunications satellites and
internet links transmitting live coverage.
Sunspots are the physical manifestation of the Sun's
natural fluctuations in magnetic activity which operate on a
roughly 11-year cycle, The Independent reported.
First Published: Wednesday, February 03, 2010, 17:17