'Global Hurrican Katrina' to cost $2 trln in damage, warn scientists
'Global Hurrican Katrina' to cost $2 trln in damage, warn scientists NASA

The recent powerful solar flare, which triggered the largest space weather storm in four years, could cost up to $2 trillion dollars in damage to communications satellites, electric power grids and GPS navigation systems, scientists said on Monday, dubbing it the global hurricane Katrina .

Classified as a Class X flare, the Feb 15 event spewed billions of tons of charged particles, igniting a geomagnetic storm in the Earth's magnetic field, said Daniel Baker, director of University of Colorado-Boulder's Lab for Space Physics.

Such powerful ejections can disrupt airline navigation systems and power grids to the safety of airline crews and astronauts, according to a Colorado statement.

The Sun is coming back to life, said Baker, an internationally known space weather expert.

The Sun has been in its most quiescent state since early 20th century, said Baker.

We have to take the issue of space weather seriously, said Sir John Beddington, UK chief scientist told Financial Times.The sun is coming out of a quiet period, and our vulnerability has increased since the last solar maximum [around 2000],

Predict and prepare should be the watchwords, agreed Jane Lubchenco, head of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. So much more of our technology is vulnerable than it was 10 years ago.

The most intense solar storm on record, which ruined much of the world's newly installed telegraph network in 1859, took place during an otherwise weak cycle. An 1859-type storm today could knock out the world's information, communications and electricity distribution systems, at a cost estimated by the US government at $2,000bn.