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What is electromagnetic pulse? Electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is a high-intensity burst of electromagnetic energy. An EMP can be caused by a natural event like a severe solar storm or a malicious act using a weapon like a high-altitude nuclear burst. National experts have concluded that consequences of a natural or manmade EMP event could be long-lasting, continent-wide and cripple the U.S. critical electricity-dependent infrastructures, which are highly vulnerable and largely unprotected. An EMP can paralyze, perhaps beyond recovery, the national critical infrastructures (power, communications, transportation, banking and finance, food and water) that sustain modern civilization and the lives of the American people. (See featured reports and videos.)