New study claims that US was almost pushed into a nuclear conflict because of a solar storm.
In 1967, on May 23, the US Air Force believed that their surveillance radars in polar regions had been jammed by the Russians, at the height of the Cold War.
Before an altercation occurred between US and Soviet forces, which would have led to WWIII, space weather forecasters explained that solar storms can disrupt communications technology.
The scientific journal Space weather published a paper by the US officers who had a part in those events.
Professor Delores Knipp stated that what would have happened to society and the world is unfathomable and would remain a secret if not for these scientists coming out and speaking about their findings.
Prof Knipp believes that this is an excellent example of why we should invest in space research and how it has a concrete influence on life on Earth. The professor further stated that: “Had it not been for the fact we had invested very early on in solar and geomagnetic storm observations and forecasting the impact likely would have been much greater. “
Solar storms are eruptions on the Sun. This emits a huge amount of particles which hit the Earth’s magnetic field. They end up near the pole areas and cause aurora borealis, or northern and southern lights.
On 18 May, 1967, the US Air Weather Service, which monitors solar flare activity, spotted a huge group of sunspots with strong magnetic fields. They predicted that a global geomagnetic storm would hit the Earth in 36-48 hours.
Colonel Arnold L. Snyder was a solar forecaster at the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado Springs. He described the solar flare as if “half the sun has blown away”.
What prevented WWIII was the fat that the Air force, in the sixties, had aircraft carrying nuclear-weaponry. Something went horribly wrong, but, as Prof Knipp said: “and then something goes commendably right”.
He further states that even President Johnson received information about the solar flare. The geomagnetic storm began about 40 hours after the flare and it disrupted radio communication in America for about a week.
The Northern lights have been sees as far as New Mexico. Snyder believes that by diagnosing the radio blackout as a consequence of a solar flare, a huge tragedy has been avoided.