'Solarstorm in 2012 could cause blackouts at Olympics'



`Solarstorm in 2012 could cause blackouts at Olympics` 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.

PTI