A powerful solar storm, characterized by a coronal mass ejection (CME), presents a significant risk to the stability of the internet, potentially causing disruptions that could last for weeks or even months.
The captivating Northern Lights might serve as a warning sign for what Professor Peter Becker from George Mason University calls an “internet apocalypse,” a potential outcome of increased solar activity.
Becker believes that a new era of solar storms could jeopardize crucial global technologies, particularly the internet, upon which the modern world heavily depends. In response, Becker’s team, with support from Fox Weather, is working on establishing a warning system to notify people of potential solar threats.
Taking a proactive approach, the US Navy has allocated a substantial $13.6 million grant for a collaborative initiative with the university to create an early warning system. The economic impact of such a disruption could reach up to $20 billion per day in the United States alone.
CMEs have the potential to disrupt the Earth’s magnetic field, leading to the flow of electrical currents through the ground, capable of damaging electronics, power grids, and satellites.
While the last major CME impact occurred in 1859, damaging the telegraph system, the current technological landscape is much more vulnerable. With heightened solar activity expected in the coming decade, scientists are intensifying efforts to predict and safeguard against CMEs.
The susceptibility of modern electronics has raised concerns, prompting research into ways to fortify the internet system and ensure greater resilience against potential damage.