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Scientists warn of a potential "Internet Apocalypse"

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

The sun goes through cycles in which, at a certain point, it reaches a solar maximum (peak activity). This was predicted to be in 2025, but scientists now predict it could happen by the end of the year.

Close up image of sun

The solar maximum is when the sun’s magnetic field isn’t as strong, so it constrains solar radiation, preventing phenomena like solar flares. Solar flares are eruptions of electromagnetic radiation in the Sun's atmosphere. The flare breaks down into particles in space, and if one of these hits Earth, it could have a devastating impact.

Solar storms can hinder satellite signals, blocking radio communications and the ability to use the internet. Earlier this year, a solar flare caused widespread radio blackouts across North and South America. In past years they have caused blackouts for several hours, sea mines to explode, etc. However, a bigger solar storm at the solar maximum can have a greater impact like a worldwide blackout, or an “internet apocalypse”. This would cause a chain reaction in food supply, communications, and other important aspects of daily life.

Scientists can currently give a warning a couple of days prior to a solar storm. However, due to the potential consequences of solar storms, scientists are working on developing better models to predict when they might happen, mitigate their impacts, and reduce the damage.

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