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Bad Solar Storm Could Cause an 'Internet Apocalypse'

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A study by Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi at the University of California, Irvine on the potential impact of a coronal mass ejection on the global Internet finds that continent-connecting undersea cables would be at particular risk from such a massive solar storm. The cables have repeaters fitted in approximately 50- to 150-kilometer (31- to 93-mile) increments, and cumulative failure of those repeaters could render entire cables inoperative.

In "Solar Superstorms: Planning for an Internet Apocalypse," Jyothi says that long distances between repeaters increase their potential for exposure to geomagnetically induced currents, while a solar storm also could damage orbiting equipment that enables services like satellite Internet and global positioning.

Jyothi also warns of knock-on outages if cable blackouts cause foundational data routing systems to malfunction.

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