No connection for 5 minutes and you’re lost? So imagine what your life would be like if the global internet were cut for several weeks! According to researchers, this is the risk we run in the event of a major solar storm. A risk for which we must prepare.
On our Earth, it constantly blows a solar wind made up of charged particles. Most of the time, these are fortunately blocked by thethat surrounds our planet. But sometimes the solar wind becomes . And manages to slip up to our passing through the poles, threatening our navigation systems and our electricity networks. And even our communication networks.
From(United States) argue today that the consequences of such could be worse than expected. A unfavorable spatial effect – a sufficiently large coronal mass ejection – could cause a black-out of the network . A failure that could last several weeks. Even several months.
Fortunately, such solar storms are rare. At least, those that manage to touch the Earth. Researchers estimate – in a study not yet reviewed by their peers – that the probability of one of them occurring is between 1.6 and 12% per decade. In our recent history, scientists mainly remember one of them, the famous, which occurred in 1859. He had put the to telegraph wires.
It’s probably true that a big solar storm could lead to internet disruptions, but that might be the least of the problems. It could also cause major power outages and damages that might take months to repair. I talked about this here:https://t.co/0lyPU6nAfg
— Sabine Hossenfelder (@skdh) September 7, 2021
Don’t let yourself be surprised
Since then, our society’s dependence on technology and in particular on, has continued to increase. Managers of include the risk associated with solar storms. But few studies have been done on the potential impacts that such an event could have on the global internet network. Their verdict: the infrastructure is not prepared.
To connect the continents, in fact, long cables meander at the bottom of the seas. They are equipped with, to amplify the signals. However, these are particularly sensitive to geomagnetic currents induced by charged particles coming from the Sun. A single repeater broken and it is the operation of an entire cable that can be called into question. Fortunately, the network was built to be . And take other routes if the most direct is cut. Yet if enough repeaters fail simultaneously, it is feared that entire continents will find themselves cut off from each other. With repairs in the middle always delicate.
Already, researchers estimate that an interruption of the Internet connection for a day in the United States would cost more than $ 7 billion. So imagine a blackout that could last for weeks or months … Researchers warn that when the next solar storm is detected at our level, we will have about 13 hours to react. It would be better to prepare before by multiplying the cables to the bass – because the high latitudes are more exposed and it is in particular there that the cables which connect Europe and the United States are located, above 40 ° of north latitude -, by better insulating the cables under- sailors and by developing impact tests, for example. Especially since the satellites also used to ensure the connections could also be affected. Good news all the same. Researchers say local connections should hold up better. The are in fact not affected by geomagnetic currents.