An ‘internet apocalypse’ is likely to follow suit after a massive solar storm, according to a recent study. The normal solar wind has the potential to transform into a storm, resulting in vast damage to global internet infrastructure. Additionally, a warning for a solar storm gives humankind only 13 hours to prepare for damages.
Why Is Such A Phenomenon Likely?
The study, titled ‘Solar Superstorms: Planning for an Internet Apocalypse’ explains how the speedy technological development concurs a time when solar activity is low. Also, the sun is likely to become more active in the coming times. The most vulnerable elements are the undersea internet cables. They are not strong enough to withstand an event with a magnitude as that of a solar storm. As a result, if impacted, the damages will drastically hamper internet flow across continents. Moreover, existing entities in the Earth’s orbit, like satellites, could be knocked out.
Major incidents like these have occurred in 1958 and 1921. The former, known as the ‘Carrington Event’ had resulted in compasses going wild, Telegraph lines being severed, and Colombians being able to see the Aurora Borealis.
Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi, the author of the study, made the initiative to conduct such a study after observing the weakness of mankind to deal with a global pandemic. The result of such impairment to internet cables could result in internet outages for long periods of time – even months. However, Abdu Jyothi also mentions that local connections will possibly survive the storm. Local cables include optic fibers, which are comparatively more resilient to geomagnetic events.
Though incidents like these are extremely rare, the probability of them occurring is increasing. When it comes to rare events, some scientists are of the opinion that they can be detrimental, while others treat it in a less serious manner. Abdu Jyothi says her research will pave the way for more work regarding internet infrastructure in such situations.