How would life change if the Internet was knocked out worldwide? According to scientists, that scenario could become reality if an enormous solar superstorm should occur.
According to a report by CTV News, if adequate preparation is not made for future instances when “the sun spits a wave of magnetized plasma at us,” astrophysicists estimate there is a 1.6—12% “likelihood of a solar storm of sufficient strength to cause catastrophic disruption occurring within the next decade,” according to a new study.
University of California assistant professor Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi wrote the paper titled “Solar Superstorms: Planning for an Internet Apocalypse,” that describes what could happen if an enormous solar storm hits us: “submarine cables between countries shut down, power grids offline, data centers from web giants at risk of going dark.”
Because “modern technological advancement coincided with a period of weak solar activity,” the modern Internet infrastructure developed over the last few decades has never been tested by “strong solar activity,” the study said. But, “the sun is expected to become more active in the near future.”
What is a solar superstorm?
A solar superstorm is what happens when something called a “coronal mass ejection escapes the sun and strikes the Earth,” also called a geomagnetic storm, the report explained.
Various human technologies can be disrupted or destroyed if it impacts our magnetic field and causes “strong electric currents on the Earth’s surface,” the report said.
“The U.S. is one of the most vulnerable locations with a high risk of disconnection from Europe during extreme solar events,” the study said.
How can we prepare?
There is time to start reinforcing our infrastructure, the report explained.
The study recommended doing things like laying more cables to minimize the risk of being completely cut off, and adding more links to Central and South America to “help in maintaining global connectivity.”
A backup system designed to “patch together available modes of communication, using cables, satellite and wireless,” could help keep things going, the report said.
In order to keep the “Internet Age running smoothly,” it will be necessary to prepare for the “sun’s future wrath,” CVT News warned.
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