Roasted by a pulse. Credit: arbyreed, CC BY-NC-SA
homelandsecuritynewswire.com - by Anders Sandberg - August 12, 2014
In 1962, a high-altitude Pacific nuclear test caused electrical damage 1,400 km away in Hawaii. A powerful electromagnetic pulse (EMP) – created either by a solar storm or a high-altitude nuclear explosion — poses a threat to regions dependent on electricity, as such pulses could cause outages lasting from two weeks to two years. The main problem is the availability of spare transformers. Superstorm Sandy’s worst effects were in a single location. In the case of a big EMP surge, replacement transformers would be needed in hundreds of locations at the same time. The cost of an EMP pulse to the U.S. economy would likely be in the range of $500 million to $2.6 trillion. A report by the U.S. National Academies was even more pessimistic, guessing at a higher range and a multi-year recovery. Besides disrupting electricity such storms can also destroy satellites, disrupt GPS navigation, and make other parts of the infrastructure fail.
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