Solar Storm And Internet Apocalypse: Massive Internet Outage, Offline Networks Warned

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Can we imagine a week or even a day without the internet? Without internet for even a few hours, we tend to feel disconnected. But now, a scientist has warned that a solar superstorm is heading towards Earth and could lead to an "internet apocalypse". The solar storm could potentially damage communication satellites and leave millions of people offline.

 
Solar Storm And Internet Apocalypse: Massive Internet Outage Warned

Generally, when there's an outage on any platform/app, the developers/owners generally take to a social media account to explain that they're fixing the issue. This could also be due to a bug or other issues. However, the upcoming solar storm is going to be much more different, warn scientists.

What Is A Solar Storm?

Before diving into the details, let's first understand what is a solar storm and a solar superstorm? A solar storm or a geomagnetic storm is caused by solar winds. The Sun constantly keeps sending out electromagnetic particles. These particles are what are called solar winds. These are highly active near the Earth's poles and the Earth's magnetic shield protects the planet from real damage.

Solar Storm And Internet Apocalypse: Massive Internet Outage Warned

The same Sun's electromagnetic waves are also what creates the Aurora phenomena near the Poles. However, every 100 years, the solar winds transform into a major solar storm or a solar superstorm. Unlike the usual solar storm, the superstorm will have a devastating effect on people on Earth, especially for those with modern lifestyles.

Solar Superstorms: How Will It Affect Us?

A study titled "Solar Superstorms: Planning for an Internet Apocalypse" was presented at the SIGCOMM 2021 data communication conference. The author, Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi of the University of California, Irvine, explains that the Sun is expected to become more active shortly. The author explains that modern technological advances occurred during a period of weak solar activity.

Solar Storm And Internet Apocalypse: Massive Internet Outage Warned

But that's about to change now as the Sun is going to become much more active, spewing more solar waves as time progresses. This would lead to extreme space weather, directly affecting life on Earth as we know it, somewhere between 1.6 and 12 percent in the next decade. Most of the impact would happen for the undersea cables.

 

The research explains that regional internet infrastructure, on the other hand, wouldn't have many risks of damage even with the solar superstorm. This is because the optical fiber isn't affected by currents from geomagnetic waves. On the other hand, the undersea cables might not be so lucky. The solar superstorm could disrupt even a few cables and it would cause a connectivity outage and switch us to offline mode.

Solar Storm And Internet Apocalypse: Massive Internet Outage Warned

Solar Superstorm: Are We Ready For Offline Mode?

This brings us to the question if we're ready for such a large-scale outage? "Our infrastructure is not prepared for a large-scale solar event. We have very limited understanding of what the extent of the damage would be," Abdu Jyothi answers in a quote to Wired. The author further explains the Earth will have roughly 13 hours to prepare for a severe solar superstorm.

On the other hand, the recent and ongoing global pandemic has shown us how unprepared we are to deal with such large-scale emergencies. To note, only two such storms have been recorded in recent history - in 1859 and 1921. If such a solar storm is to happen, it simply means to hope for the best while preparing for the worst.

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