An expert has warned that solar storms may have "devastating effects" on human technology when their intensity hits a peak in 2013.
The solar storms can cause damage on a global scale because of increased reliance on electronic equipment such as satellite navigation systems used in cars.
US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration assistant secretary Kathryn Sullivan said the storms pose a growing threat to satellite communications, navigation systems and electrical transmission equipment.
This is because the solar storms release particles that have the potential to temporarily disable or permanently destroy fragile and complex computer circuits.
Dr Sullivan, a former NASA astronaut who became the first woman to walk in space in 1984, told a UN weather conference in Geneva that "it is not a question of if, but really a matter of when a major solar event could hit our planet."
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