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Massive Solar Storm Within Next Decade May Crumble Internet Infrastructure: Study

Solar storm consists of powerful eruptions of mass and energy from the sun. (Credits: Twitter via Bengali News18)

Solar storm consists of powerful eruptions of mass and energy from the sun. (Credits: Twitter via Bengali News18)

With the ejection of highly magnetized particles from the sun towards the earth, the magnetic fields on earth can go highly erratic and induce powerful electric currents.

The universe is the equilibrium between order and chaos. The life that exists in it is surrounded by phenomena and events that could disrupt the flow of survival to a great extent. A solar storm is one such phenomenon that poses a grave threat to the people living on earth. Solar storm consists of powerful eruptions of mass and energy from the sun. The eruptions appear from the burning ball of gas as flares, sunspots, and coronal mass ejection (CME).

However, solar storm is a rare occurrence and can be considered as a black swan event. Such an event occurred in 1859 called the ‘Carrington Event,’ which led to a major disruption in electrical infrastructure and then again in 1921, which was comparatively a milder solar storm. But researchers believe that this black swan event can again occur in a decade. A study by Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi, University of California, Irvine, suggests that a major solar storm can hit earth within the next decade, and the chances of it happening range from 1.6-12 percent. It indicates that the chances of a massive solar storm are likely, and it will severely affect the internet infrastructure under the sea, including power grids and gas pipelines, says Wired.

With the ejection of highly magnetized particles from the sun towards the earth, the magnetic fields on earth can go highly erratic and induce powerful electric currents. These currents have the capability to destroy long-distance internet cables laid under the sea that acts as a backbone of the internet being used across the world.

The storm could also affect the communication satellite leading to a catastrophic turn of events since the entire world today depends on the internet. According to the study, the least affected continent will be Asia, since it gets its internet from Singapore as the hub. It is estimated thatin a solar storm event, a day in the United States without the internet can cost up to $7 billion per day.

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The world is still struggling with the black swan event of 2020, and now this study has left doors ajar for another black swan event. Do you think the world is ready for a massive solar storm?

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first published:September 09, 2021, 19:42 IST