A DEVASTATING solar storm will hit Earth and could cost Europe £14billion – it has been warned.
The prediction comes as a weather warning was put in place for this weekend after reports a solar storm could hit our planet.
Juha-Pekka Luntama, head of the Space Weather Office at the European Space Agency, stressed it was not a question of if, but when, the Earth faced a potentially hazardous solar storm.
His remarks echo those made by the Met Office earlier this week.
Mr Luntama told the Express: “Nobody’s even tried to do an estimate of the worldwide cost.
“If there is a major solar eruption the whole world will be impacted.”
According to NASA, solar flares are bursts of intense radiation emanating from the Sun.
They can last anywhere from minutes to hours and are often caused by sunspots – cool, dark regions that form on the sun’s surface due to fluctuations in the Sun’s magnetic field.
Mr Luntama and his colleagues will today present details of the ESA’s pioneering British-led Lagrange mission, which aims to put a probe in orbit around the Sun to monitor activity.
He explained: “Our Sun may be nice and quiet looking but it’s actually not.
“It will be huge”
“We have these things called energetic solar particle events whereby protons and electrons are ejected from the Sun and approach the speed of light.
“When they hit satellites they can cause malfunctions and even destroy the satellite electronics.”
It is widely believed solar storms are one of the “biggest threats” to mankind.
They can cause massive problems for power supplies – triggering blackouts that could prove fatal.
They can also create drag on satellites and planes in low-Earth orbit, overriding the navigation systems and putting them on course corrections.
A huge solar storm buffeted the Earth in 1859 – and one the same size today would ravage our modern society as it’s so dependent on technology.
Anxious space experts have previously warned the public have no idea of the danger they are in.
Brian Gaensler, an astrophysicist at the University of Toronto, gave a stark warning of the carnage solar flares can cause.
“The concern here is that if the radiation from a solar flare hits the Earth, it can knock out satellites, disrupt mobile phones, and other forms of communication,” he said.
The effects of a solar storm could last months – or even years – as authorities would have to repair all the damaged infrastructure.
Specialist insurance firm Lloyd’s of London estimates the repair bill could cost up to £1.8trillion.
In 2015, the British Government published a report into the risks to the UK of severe space weather.
It said an event such as a coronal mass ejection could wreak havoc across the world.