The report’s data indicate that damage from a giant solar storm can cause prolonged blackouts that would mainly affect undersea cables that connect different continents and are responsible for the world’s computer network. Cables for regional connections would be at less risk, as they are not affected by the solar storm’s emissions.
Although governments and businesses were able to re-establish power again in a few hours or days, the damage caused could prevent the connection from continuing to work longer.
A solar storm is caused by a massive coronal mass ejection from the Sun that is composed of ionized gas at high temperatures and that can create electromagnetic fields strong enough to affect electrical grids.
In this way, although local networks remained intact, entire countries could disconnect from the Internet.
“Our infrastructure is not prepared for a large-scale solar event. We have a very limited understanding of what the extent of the damage would be,” said Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi.
The last solar storm was detected in 1989 and caused a 9-hour blackout in northeastern Canada. Abdu Jyothi now believes the possibility of another similar incident may be greater as it has been more than 30 years since the last incident.
Finally, scientists warn that satellites are also likely to be rendered inoperative by the solar storm, which would impede the network’s use worldwide. The undersea cables most at risk of damage are those that cross the Atlantic and Pacific oceans at higher points, while those connected to Singapore are at lower risk because they are closer to the equator.
Currently, researchers are continuing studies to more accurately predict the damage caused by a solar storm to avoid further complications by preparing agencies and governments around the world.