June 14, 2013

Asteroids and Tsunamis and Space Weather, Oh My!

Posted by Sam

What are the odds that tomorrow you walk out of your home to see a meteor burning up in Earth’s atmosphere as it hurtles toward our planet at breakneck speed? Luckily, chances are pretty low.

But, as evidenced by the recent large fireball – or “superbolide” if you speak Astrophysics – seen by many (and captured by many video cameras) near Chelyabinsk, Russia, this does happen. That relatively small meteor caused some serious damage, $100 million by some estimates. So what happens if a much larger one is headed our way? And what could we do about it?

Lindley Johnson can tell you exactly what we can do about it, and what NASA is working on so that someday we can be truly ready for these types of threats. And his presentation is only one of four on amazing and frightening “megadisasters” that have the potential to do tremendous amounts of damage to our planet.

Lucy Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey will discuss the power and threat of an ARkStorm, and how scientists are working with communities now to ensure that we are prepared for this megadisaster when it strikes.

Larry Zanetti of John Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab will describe the impacts that space weather could have on our electrical system, potentially shutting down cities after a major solar storm event.

If you’re not quaking in your boots yet, Eddie Bernard will talk about the potential for tsunamis hitting the U.S. due to an earthquake, or even an asteroid strike.

Luckily, the talks won’t be all doom and gloom. Scientists are studying all of these phenomena and sharing their findings with policy makers, first responders, and the public to help ensure that we are all prepared for the worst of the worst. Join us at the AGU Science Policy Conference as these hazards experts discuss the potential for megadisasters, and what we can do to mitigate their impacts.

-Elizabeth Landau, AGU Public Affairs Manager