A dark and stormy beast of a natural disaster could be lurking in the shadows, according to a study from an Irvine Researcher.
Irvine researcher Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi presented a study on the potential damage that a fast-moving cloud of magnetized solar particles, or Solar Storm, could do to the global Internet.
She explained that even in the event of a massive solar storm, local and regional Internet infrastructure would be at low risk of damage, as fibre is not itself affected by geomagnetic currents. Short cable spans are also very regularly grounded, but the risks are far higher for long submarine cables connecting continents. A solar storm disrupting these cables worldwide could cause a huge loss of connectivity by cutting off countries at source, even though local infrastructure remains intact.
Coronal mass ejections are a major threat to the resilience of the Internet, states Abdu Jyothi. After three decades of low solar storm activity, she and other researchers point out that the probability of a new event is considerable.
Undersea Internet cables are more vulnerable to damage from solar storms for several reasons. While fibre optic cables are not directly liable to interference from geomagnetic currents, the electronic internals of repeaters are – and continued repeater failures will make the entire undersea cable inoperable.
Moreover, a large solar storm could also knock out any equipment that orbit the Earth, disabling services such as satellite internet and global positioning.
For more information, view the original story from Arstechnica.