September 21, 2023

Yes, solar storms are increasing, but don’t lose sleep over an ‘internet apocalypse’.

    a close-up of the sun shows a giant fireball in space

a close-up of the sun shows a giant fireball in space

Despite what many headlines have said, there is no internet apocalypse on the horizon.

Concerns about such a months-long catastrophe began bubbling on social media platforms not long after a 2021 study titled “Solar Superstorms: Planning for an Internet Apocalypse” suggested that a major solar storm could severely damage Internet cables — particularly those under the sea ​​that connect continents and help power the global internet. (The study was presented at a data communications conference in 2021, but has yet to appear in a peer-reviewed journal.)

Last week, disinformation building on fictitious warnings from NASA breathed new life into those “internet apocalypse” concerns, which are once again thriving online. They include unfounded claims about an impending solar storm that will cause a global internet outage within the next decade, and how NASA’s Parker solar probelaunched in 2018 to study the sun and weather up close, can save the internet “of death by solar storm.”

Here are three debunked falsehoods that have gone viral on social media outlets like YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, Reddit, and Instagram.

Related: Solar flares: what are they and how do they affect the Earth?

NASA has not issued any warnings of an Internet apocalypse

The current panic is fueled by a non-existent NASA warning about an imminent “Internet apocalypse.”

Most falsehoods refer to an article published by the space agency in March about its efforts to predict solar storms using artificial intelligence. In that article or elsewhere on its website, NASA did not use the phrase “internet apocalypse.” Instead, it stems from the same 2021 study, whose sole author, Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi, recently told The Washington Post that she regretted using the phrase and that her paper was “just getting too much attention.”

The online fears are also reinforced by peer-reviewed survey from earlier this year which showed that the Sun could reach the peak of its current activity in 2024, a year earlier than previously predicted. While scientists actually expect major solar storms to occur after solar activity peaks, there’s no evidence to support the viral rumors that the next major solar storm will cause the internet to go offline.

The effects of major solar storms on power grids and communication systems are well documented, so it’s “good to be on the lookout and do continuous monitoring and evaluation of the Sun-Earth system and the heliospheric system,” Vishal Upendran, a research associate at the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in California, told me. to However, “more studies are needed to make strong claims about the strength of solar storms,” ​​he added.

a bright glow extends outward from the sun

a bright glow extends outward from the sun

Scientists have not predicted a deadly solar storm in July 2025

Despite numerous claims about how the sun could kill the planetthere are no science-based predictions that a deadly solar storm will occur in 2025.

According to Upendran, it is complicated to predict the severity of the damage that solar storms can cause on Earth. For example, as the sun approaches its peak of magnetic activity, structures on its surface become increasingly complicated, making them difficult to model.

In addition, the solar flares shed by the sun are 3D structures that interact with those of the Earth magnetic field system, which is also a 3D structure, in ways that are not fully understood and thus difficult to model.

“These are complex systems and it would be inappropriate to make a strong statement about the occurrence of superstorms,” ​​Upendran told He and his team have one artificial intelligence model which uses satellite solar wind data to generate solar storm forecasts up to 30 minutes before they happen. “The great strength of our model is that it can make predictions in seconds and give results every minute with a 30-minute time horizon,” he said.

blue lines run from the sun to the earth

blue lines run from the sun to the earth

The team hopes their model will provide enough advance warning to satellite operators, power grid operators and telecommunications companies to temporarily take their systems offline or move satellites to safer orbits to limit damage if possible.

Such predictions could be useful during increased solar activity, which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officially predicts will occur in July 2025. That is when the magnetic activity of the sun that gives rise to sunspots and solar flares will reach its peak. , but there are no official estimates of the damage solar storms could do by then.

The Parker Solar Probe Is Not a Distraction to ‘The Great Reset’


– The sun erupts with a record number of sunspots, raising concerns about solar storms

— Watching ‘Shooting stars’ rain on the sun for the first time (images)

– NASA’s Parker Solar Probe kicks off summer with its 16th plunge through the sun

Misinformation is also circulating that NASA is using its Parker Solar Probe mission to save the internet as a facade in support of The Great Reset, which began as a global policy initiative by the World Economic Forum to help the economy recover from the COVID-19 crisis. 19 pandemic but has since been woven into countless conspiracy theories.

“This means we can’t connect to each other, we can’t call each other, we can’t go on the internet and much more,” one person said in a viral Facebook video, according to a fact-checking service called “But this also means they can perform the Great Reset in silence without anyone knowing.”

The video was flagged for fake news by Facebook and has since been removed.

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