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EMP & GMD - Electromagnetic Pulse and Geomagnetic Disturbances

Our electrical grid is at risk.
Our electrical grid is at risk.

Imagine sitting in your home and relaxing. Suddenly the power goes out. Your phone stops working, your refrigerator shuts down and your car won't start. Air conditioning and heating systems grind to a halt. Backup generators won't start. Everything with electronics in it has been damaged or destroyed. What you've just experienced is some form of Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) or Geomagnetic Disturbance (GMD).

According to a strategy report by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, this is the likely cause and effect of an EMP or GMD.

The following information is from: Strategy for protecting and preparing the homeland against threats of electromagnetic pulse and geomagnetic disturbances - October 9, 2018

EMPs are associated with intentional attacks using high-altitude nuclear detonations, specialized conventional munitions, or non-nuclear directed energy devices. Effects vary in scale from highly local to regional to continental, depending upon the specific characteristics of the weapon and the attack profile. High-altitude electromagnetic pulse attacks (HEMP) using nuclear weapons are of most concern because they may permanently damage or disable large sections of the national electric grid and other critical infrastructure control systems.

Nuclear Explosion

GMDs are caused by extreme space weather events originating on the sun: naturally occurring sudden bursts of plasma and magnetic field structures (coronal mass ejections (CME) and bursts of radiation, or solar flares. These events tend to occur during the sun’s “solar maximum,” a four-to-six year period during the sun’s regular cycle of reversing the polarities of its north and south poles.

Coronal Mass Ejection

GMDs have the potential to impact large areas of the earth. Unlike EMP, however, GMD events occur with regularity, raising the issue of not “if,” but “when,” the next event will occur, and what the impacts may be.

Both EMPs and GMDs may cause widespread and long-lasting damage to electric power systems, satellites, electronic navigation systems, and undersea cables. Essentially, any electronics system that is not protected against extreme EMP or GMD events may be subject to either the direct “shock” of the blast itself or to the damage that is inflicted on the systems and controls upon which they are dependent.

Space weather phenomena are relatively well understood within the scientific community, but the historical rarity of extreme GMD events limits availability of data useful for predictive analysis.

The strongest geomagnetic storm on record is the Carrington Event of 1859 which electrified telegraph lines. The event caused major outages and disruptions in telegraph networks around the world; currents induced in the lines by the event were strong enough to cause sparks and allow some operators to disconnect their systems from batteries and send messages using only the current induced by the storm.

Impacts from the storm were limited given the state of technology at the time; modern society is far more vulnerable to the effects of a significant GMD event due to its reliance on electricity and technology. A more recent significant event occurred in 1989, when a geomagnetic storm collapsed the Hydro-Québec power grid in under two minutes, resulting in the loss of electric power to more than six million people for nine hours in Canada.

A Carrington-like event today, which exceeds the magnitude of the 1989 Hydro-Québec event, could even more significantly disrupt and damage electric power grids. A major GMD event could also disrupt radio communications and navigation signals from GPS satellites, and intense events could create significant radiation hazards for astronauts. Due to technological interdependencies, a severe GMD event could create a complex set of cascading effects, including requiring rerouting of air traffic to avoid areas where communication and navigation would be limited by space weather impacts.

Original Strategy Study Link:https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/18_1009_EMP_GMD_Strategy-Non-Embargoed.pdf

Direct link to the study is here: Strategy for protecting and preparing the homeland against threats of electromagnetic pulse and geomagnetic disturbances - October 9, 2018

Solar Flares, Coronal Mass Ejections and Geomagnetic Disturbances Defined (From Wikipedia)

A SOLAR FLARE is a sudden flash of increased brightness on the Sun, usually observed near its surface and in close proximity to a sunspot group. Powerful flares are often, but not always, accompanied by a coronal mass ejection.

A CORONAL MASS EJECTION (CME) is a significant release of plasma and accompanying magnetic field from the solar corona. They often follow solar flares and are normally present during a solar prominence eruption. The plasma is released into the solar wind, and can be observed in coronagraph imagery.

A GEOMAGNETIC DISTURBANCE (GMD) (also referred to as a geomagnetic storm or a solar storm) is a temporary disturbance of the Earth's magnetosphere caused by a solar wind shock wave and/or cloud of magnetic field that interacts with the Earth's magnetic field.

The disturbance that drives the magnetic storm may be a solar coronal mass ejection (CME) or a co-rotating interaction region (CIR), a high-speed stream of solar wind originating from a coronal hole.

Additional Threats

There are several countries working on weapons that produce an EMP pulse. It wouldn't take much to disable most the United States power grid with just a few high powered missles.

The first significant man-made EMP occured in 1962. That's when the 1.4 megaton Starfish Prime thermonuclear weapon was detonated about 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the Pacific Ocean. The explosion was about 100 times larger than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

What happened shocked the scientists. On the island of Hawaii, nearly 900 miles away, streetlights were knocked out, burglar alarms were triggered and a telephone company microwave link was shut down. Today we have bombs 1,000 times stronger than that, and EMP weapons so powerful their full capabilities are still classified.

It's critical we protect power generating facilities, the electrical grid, communications infrastructure and satellites. But that's not currently happening.

As of 2020, the only power plants that are protected from an EMP are nuclear reactors, both old and new versions. Nuclear reactors provide the United States with about 20% of it's total power.

Without proper protection, if we experience an EMP from attack or an extreme GMD, we are told to expect to lose power for a minimum of 2-4 YEARS.

Three Components of a Nuclear EMP
(Information by by Jerry Emanuelson, B.S.E.E. and you can find the full original article here: http://www.futurescience.com/emp/E1-E2-E3.html)

E1

The E1 pulse is the very fast component of nuclear EMP. The E1 component is a very brief but intense electromagnetic field that can quickly induce very high voltages in electrical conductors. The E1 component causes most of its damage by causing electrical breakdown voltages to be exceeded. E1 is the component that can destroy computers and communications equipment; and it changes too fast for ordinary lightning protectors to provide effective protection against it. Consumer transient protectors are becoming increasingly able to handle faster rise-time pulses, though. There are special transient protectors that are fast enough to suppress nuclear EMP.

E2

The E2 component is generated by scattered gamma rays and inelastic gammas produced by weapon neutrons. This E2 component is an "intermediate time" pulse that, by the IEC definition, lasts from about one microsecond to one second after the beginning of the electromagnetic pulse. The E2 component of the pulse has many similarities to the electromagnetic pulses produced by lightning, although the electromagnetic pulse induced by a very close lightning strike may be considerably larger than the E2 component of a nuclear EMP. Because of the similarities to lightning-caused pulses and the widespread use of lightning protection technology, the E2 pulse is generally considered to be the easiest to protect against.

According to the United States EMP Commission, the main potential problem with the E2 component is the fact that it immediately follows the E1 component, which may have damaged the devices that would normally protect against E2.

E3

The E3 component is very different from the other two major components of nuclear EMP. The E3 component of the pulse is a very slow pulse, lasting tens to hundreds of seconds, that is caused by the nuclear detonation heaving the Earth's magnetic field out of the way, followed by the restoration of the magnetic field to its natural place. The E3 component has similarities to a geomagnetic storm caused by a very severe solar coronal mass ejection (CME). Like a geomagnetic storm, E3 can produce geomagnetically induced currents in long electrical conductors, which can then damage or destroy components such as power line transformers. These currents are often called quasi-DC currents because they resemble the direct current from a battery more than what most people think of as a pulse. Nearly all of the damage from E3 in modern systems occurs to the AC power grid, which is generally not designed to handle direct currents, especially in critical devices such as power transformers.

Because of the similarity between solar-induced geomagnetic storms and nuclear E3, it has become common to refer to solar-induced geomagnetic storms as "solar EMP." At ground level, however, "solar EMP" is NOT known to produce an E1 or E2 component. The phrase "solar EMP" has caused a huge amount of confusion in the general public.

EMP and GMD Myths

There are numerous myths about the potential effects of an EMP or GMD. Many come from the way television and movies treat the subject, with flawed science and impossible scenarios.

There are two extremes. Either we will all die, or it won't be a big deal. Unfortunately since a severe event hasn't happened in modern times, we really don't know what's going to happen.

Rather than going into all the myths here, we suggest you read EMP Myths by Jerry Emanuelson, B.S.E.E. - Futurescience, LLC.

Link: http://www.futurescience.com/emp/EMP-myths.html

Electric Power Distribution from a Nuclear Plant

Power Grid Distribution 1

Power Grid Distribution 2

Power Grid Distribution 3

 

High-Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP): Potential Impacts, and EPRI Research Approach

High-altitude electromagnetic pulse (HEMP) refers to the electromagnetic pulse that is created by the high-altitude detonation of a nuclear weapon. Numerous stakeholders assert that a HEMP attack is probable, and its impact would be catastrophic to the power system infrastructure. However, a science-based approach is needed to assess the true impact of this threat. To address this gap, EPRI has developed a comprehensive research plan that will be carried out over a three-year period. This video provides an overview of science of high-altitude electromagnetic pulses and EPRI’s three-year research plan.

 

EMP - What Would Survive an Electromagnetic Pulse Attack?

Wondering what would survive an EMP attack or an Electromagnetic pulse created from a solar flare? That and many more questions about EMP's will be answered!

What would be affected by an EMP? Virtually all electric devices which are connected to an electrical outlet or charger during an EMP will all be damaged and probably rendered useless. Even electronic devices that are not connected to an electrical outlet will be fried, unless they are protected inside a faraday cage.

Here are some of the questions that I will answer in this video;

What Items Would be Affected EMP Attack?
What Everyday Items Will Survive The EMP?
How Would an EMP Affect Batteries?
The Aftermath of an EMP Attack How Do EMPs Affect Electrical Systems?
Would hybrid electric cars survive an EMP?
What is an EMP?

 


Preparation - Survival

Click Here to learn more about the sun-earth environment, spaceweather.com.

Click Here for information on what to do from the United States government website, Ready.gov.

Click Here to download a PDF file with information on what to do from the United States government website, Ready.gov.

PDF Information from Ready.gov

Faraday Cage: Garbage Can, Really?

You do NOT need a ground!!! - Is a steel garbage can a good Faraday cage to protect against EMP and Solar flares? IMHO absolutely! I show you how to test a Faraday cage to see if it is really working, how to make a nested Faraday cage and how to prepare the items you put in the Faraday cage.

Reading & Reference Material

(We owe a debt of gratitute to a company called EMP Shield. They have a library of information on EMP and GMD that we were able to draw upon. You can find them at: https://www.empshield.com/)

Black Sky Hazards: Description and Impact, EMP

Black Sky Hazards: Description and Impact, EMP

By: EIS Counsel, THE BLACK SKY HAZARDS RESOURCE SERIES 1
Publication Date: Unknown

 

Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Protection and Resilience Guidelines for Critical Infrastructure and Equipment

Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Protection and Resilience Guidelines for Critical Infrastructure and Equipment

By: National Coordinating Center for Communications (NCC)
Publication Date: February, 5th 2019

 

STRATEGY FOR PROTECTING AND PREPARING THE HOMELAND AGAINST THREATS OF ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE AND GEOMAGNETIC DISTURBANCES

STRATEGY FOR PROTECTING AND PREPARING THE HOMELAND AGAINST THREATS OF ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE AND GEOMAGNETIC DISTURBANCES

By: US Department of Homeland Security
Publication Date: October 9, 2018

 

STRATEGIC PRIMER: 2018 ELECTROMAGNETIC THREATS - WINTER Volume 4

STRATEGIC PRIMER: 2018 ELECTROMAGNETIC THREATS - WINTER Volume 4

By: American Foreign Policy Counsel
Publication Date: 2018

 

EMPTY THREAT OR SERIOUS DANGER: ASSESSING NORTH KOREA’S RISK TO THE HOMELAND

EMPTY THREAT OR SERIOUS DANGER: ASSESSING NORTH KOREA’S RISK TO THE HOMELAND

By: STATEMENT FOR THE RECORD DR. WILLIAM R. GRAHAM, CHAIRMAN DR. PETER VINCENT PRY, CHIEF OF STAFF COMMISSION TO ASSESS THE THREAT TO THE UNITED STATES FROM ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE (EMP) ATTACK TO U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY SUBCOMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND MANAGEMENT EFFICIENCY HEARING
Publication Date: October 12, 2017

 

Assessing the Threat from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) - Volume I: Executive Report

Assessing the Threat from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) - Volume I: Executive Report

By: THE COMMISSION TO ASSESS THE THREAT TO THE UNITED STATES FROM ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE (EMP) ATTACK
Publication Date: July 2017

 

NUCLEAR EMP ATTACK SCENARIOS AND COMBINED-ARMS CYBER WARFARE

NUCLEAR EMP ATTACK SCENARIOS AND COMBINED-ARMS CYBER WARFARE

By: Dr. Peter Vincent Pry
Publication Date: July 2017

 

U.S. Department of Energy Electromagnetic Pulse Resilience Action Plan

U.S. Department of Energy Electromagnetic Pulse Resilience Action Plan

By: U.S. Department of Energy
Publication Date: January 2017

 

Joint Electromagnetic Pulse Resilience Strategy

Joint Electromagnetic Pulse Resilience Strategy

By: U.S. Department of Energy
Publication Date: July 2016

 

Strategies, Protections, and Mitigations for the Electric Grid from Electromagnetic Pulse Effects

Strategies, Protections, and Mitigations for the Electric Grid from Electromagnetic Pulse Effects

By: Idaho National Laboratory
Publication Date: January 2016

 

WHITE PAPER A Near-Term Strategy to Counter the EMP Threat

WHITE PAPER A Near-Term Strategy to Counter the EMP Threat

By: Henry F. Cooper and Robert L. Pfaltzgraff, Jr.
Organization: Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis
Publication Date: 2014

 

The Catastrophic Effect of an EMP Attack or Severe Solar Storm

The Catastrophic Effect of an EMP Attack or Severe Solar Storm

By: EIS Council
Publication Date: 2013

 

THE EMP THREAT: EXAMINING THE CONSEQUENCES

THE EMP THREAT: EXAMINING THE CONSEQUENCES

By: SUBCOMMITTEE ON CYBERSECURITY, INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION, AND SECURITY TECHNOLOGIES OF THE COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ONE HUNDRED TWELFTH CONGRESS SECOND SESSION
Publication Date: SEPTEMBER 12, 2012

 

Developing Threats: Electro-Magnetic Pulses (EMP)

Developing Threats: Electro-Magnetic Pulses (EMP)

By: House of Commons Defence Committee
Publication Date: 8 February 2012

 

ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE – A CATASTROPHIC THREAT TO THE HOMELAND

ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE – A CATASTROPHIC THREAT TO THE HOMELAND

By: COLONEL ROBERT ORESKOVIC, United States Army
Publication Date: March 24, 2011

 

THREAT POSED BY ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE (EMP) ATTACK

THREAT POSED BY ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE (EMP) ATTACK

By: COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ONE HUNDRED TENTH CONGRESS SECOND SESSION
Hearing Held: July 10 2008

 

CRS Report for Congress - High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) and High Power Microwave (HPM) Devices: Threat Assessments

CRS Report for Congress - High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) and High Power Microwave (HPM) Devices: Threat Assessments

By: Clay Wilson, Specialist in Technology and National Security
Publication Date: March 26, 2008

 

THE EMERGING EMP THREAT TO THE UNITED STATES - Foreword by Congressman Roscoe Bartlett U.S. House of Representatives

THE EMERGING EMP THREAT TO THE UNITED STATES - Foreword by Congressman Roscoe Bartlett U.S. House of Representatives

By: Dr. Mark Schneider National Institute for Public Policy
Publication Date: November 2007

 

Electromagnetic Pulse Threats in 2010

Electromagnetic Pulse Threats in 2010

By: Colin R. Miller, Major, USAF
Publication Date: November 2005

 

TERRORISM AND THE EMP THREAT TO HOMELAND SECURITY

TERRORISM AND THE EMP THREAT TO HOMELAND SECURITY

By:  HEARING BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON TERRORISM, TECHNOLOGY AND HOMELAND SECURITY OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY UNITED STATES SENATE ONE HUNDRED NINTH CONGRESS FIRST SESSION
Publication Date: MARCH 8, 2005

 

Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack - Volume 1: Executive Report

Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack - Volume 1: Executive Report

By: Dr. John S. Foster, Jr.,  Mr. Earl Gjelde,  Dr. William R. Graham (Chairman),  Dr. Robert J. Hermann,  Mr. Henry (Hank) M. Kluepfel,  GEN Richard L. Lawson, USAF (Ret.),  Dr. Gordon K. Soper,  Dr. Lowell L. Wood, Jr.,  Dr. Joan B. Woodard – Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse
Publication Date: 2004

 

MIL-STD-188-125-1 - HIGH-ALTITUDE ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE (HEMP) PROTECTION FOR GROUND-BASED C I FACILITIES PERFORMING CRITICAL, 4 TIME-URGENT MISSIONS

MIL-STD-188-125-1 - HIGH-ALTITUDE ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE (HEMP) PROTECTION FOR GROUND-BASED C I FACILITIES PERFORMING CRITICAL, 4 TIME-URGENT MISSIONS

By: Department of Defense
Publication Date: 17 July 1998

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This information is presented to make people aware of the larger world around them. If you can prepare for something as devastating as this, you're much more likely to be ready for smaller disruptions. Be aware and prepare.

6/6/2020