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Solar Superstorms: Planning for an Internet Apocalypse [pdf] (uci.edu)
10 points by belter 27 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 4 comments

> we have sentinel spacecraft that can issue early warnings of CMEs providing at least 13 hours of lead time

Sadly, I think it's probably realistic to assume that the vast majority of that time will be eaten by bureaucratic indecision and that global power and telecommunication infrastructure will suffer considerably.

Perhaps at some future "earth day" it would be wise to test the shut-down of significant portions of our power and telecommunications systems.

When the electrical grid went out for a part of Canada and the US for a few August days a while back, we got a taste of what could happen. It would take a lot longer to get up and running again in the case of an overly-well directed EMP from the Sun.

As far as I know, we don't have technology for dealing with it if it does happen. But we have had practice and incentive to improve the outcomes.

From the simulated scenarios:



Under low failures, on the West coast, while most cables connected to Oregon fail, connectivity from California to Hawaii,Japan, Hong Kong, Mexico, Costa Rica, etc. are unaffected. Under similar conditions on the East coast, connectivity between the North East (and Canada) to Europe fail completely with a probability of 0.8.

With a probability of 0.2, connectivity of all but one cable is lost. Connections from Florida to Brazil, the Bahamas, etc. are not affected under the low failure scenario. Under high failures on the West coast, all long-distance connectivity is lost except for one cable interconnecting Southern California with Indonesia/Hawaii/Micronesia/ Philippines.

On the East coast, only long-distance cables from Florida to the Caribbean, Virgin Islands, Columbia, etc. remain operational. US-Europe connectivity is lost with a probability of 1.0.


With low failures , about 56% of connections are unaffected. However, the densely populated city of Shanghai loses all its long-distance connectivity even under this scenario...Under high failures, China loses all its long-distance cables except one (connecting to Japan, Philippines, Singapore, and Malaysia).


The majority of cables connecting to India are unaffected, and none of the cities are disconnected at low failure probabilities Even under the high-failure scenario, some international connectivity remains (e.g., India to Singapore, Middle East, etc.). Unlike in China, the key cities of Mumbai and Chennai do not lose connectivity even with high failures


While the UK loses most of its long-distance cables under the high failure scenario, its connectivity to neighboring European locations such as France, Norway, etc. remains. However, connectivity to North America is lost.

South Africa:

Even under the high-failure scenario, although it loses some capacity, South Africa continues to retain its connectivity to both the Eastern and the Western Coast of Africa.

Australia and New Zealand:

With high failures, New Zealand loses all its long-distance connectivity except to Australia. Similarly,while Australia retains most of its connectivity to nearby islands n addition to domestic connections, the longest unaffected cable interconnects it with Jakarta (Indonesia) and Singapore.


Interestingly, even under high failures, Brazil will retain its connectivity to Europe in addition to other parts of South America such as Argentina. However, it will lose its connectivity to North America. It is interesting to note that the US loses its connectivity to Europe under this failure scenario, but Brazil does not.


I'd speculate that China may be considerably faster at ordering the shut down of hydro and telecommunications facilities to protect them from damage.

A good analogy is during the 9-11 attack the FAA managed to fairly quickly alert/inform carriers and air traffic of an immediate shutdown of US airspace. I doubt US/Canadian regulators of power and telecom providers would be nearly as quick/effective.

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