Solar storms might cause disruptions in the global internet architecture for weeks at a time, warns a study. The massive network of underwater cables will be most affected since many industries are dependent on the world wide web.
This warning came from Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi, a computer scientist from the University of California who studied how space conditions originating from the sun will impact the internet. Unstable electromagnetic fluctuations are caused by a massive solar flare that will generate intense radiation in the earth's atmosphere.
Solar flares could send harmful electromagnetic surge
Most modern equipment and components like undersea cables have metallic elements that can be affected by electromagnetism, reported the Daily Mail.
It is made worse by the fluctuations in magnetic fields that will knock out signal boosters along the underwater cables which connect at immense distances.
Furthermore, these submarine cables could be affected by solar storms. Undersea cables are more affected than land links when a solar flare occurs in space, and the repair is complicated if something happens.
Internet cutting out all over on a global scale could happen, including blackouts due to overloaded power grids and disable GPS systems everywhere caused by a massive electromagnetic pulse, cited News Sky.
As mentioned, a solar flare or solar storm extending farther than the sun's surface sends waves of radiation into space. These charged ions and electromagnetic energy could fluctuate hastily, which disrupts global internet architecture.
This weekend, the Sun released a significant solar flare. This was an X-class flare, which denotes the most intense flares. Here on Earth, we’re protected from flares’ radiation by our atmosphere, though they can impact communications signals. More: https://t.co/tArnFhqTN8 pic.twitter.com/yxKRqQZymb— NASA Sun & Space (@NASASun) July 6, 2021
A solar flare could affect the earth since it usually happens. But large solar flares are uncommon. An electromagnetic pulse can fry unshielded submarine cables when it does hit devices crucial to the power grid, noted Nation Lk.
In September 1859, a large solar flare caused a record geomagnetic storm that produced harmful currents from the US to Europe in the telegraph poles. Space weather showered the earth with electromagnetic pulse radiation that made telegraph pylons spark, and telegraph operators were shocked by its effect. A few places were able to use the telegraph network still to send and receive info of the day. Even if they were no direct power source, immense electrical fields could connect devices due to the space storm.
Copper was used in the telegraph lines during the Victorian period. Still, high-speed fiber optic cables are primarily used, which are faster through strands of silicone complex, making them not directly susceptible to magnetically-induced currents.
Electromagnetic surge most likely to affect internet repeaters
Undersea cables are not directly affected by a magnetic current. The repeaters are vulnerable to a surge of energy placed at 30-90 miles apart. If a power surge comes from a terrestrial connection, it will travel to fiber optic cables, frying the repeaters and wires.Land cables do not need a repeater compared to undersea cable, which needs repeaters to boost the signals.
Land cables are more shielded and durable than sea-based connections against a power surge. Hardening cables against solar storms and the global internet architecture need to be implemented to avoid a catastrophic shutdown.
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