Weaknesses in the world’s massive undersea communications cable network combined with a major solar storm could leave many countries around the world without internet. This is the result of a new study by experts from the University of California, Irvine, who evaluated how space weather can affect the Internet’s infrastructure.
by: so interesting
Not only can the electromagnetic fluctuations from intense solar storms directly damage the fiber-optic cables that make up the backbone of the Internet, but they have the potential to eliminate the signal amplifiers located along submarine cables that are necessary to maintain long-distance connections.
In addition to disruptions to Internet access, solar storms can also cause widespread blackouts by overloading power grids and shutting down GPS systems.
Today’s long-range Internet connections tend to run along fiber-optic cables, where pulses of light bounce off silicon strands to transmit information. Because of this, the cables themselves are not directly susceptible to magnetically induced currents. However, Prof. Abdo Al-Jyoti, the leader of the work, explains that the same cannot be said of the “repetitors”. These devices act as signal amplifiers ensuring that the signal does not deteriorate too much when it reaches the other end of the connection. Repeaters are made of electronic components, which means they can be damaged by a solar storm. The link may stop working, so this platform is more vulnerable in the event of a widespread network outage.