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Solar storm could leave the world without communications “for months”

The period in which the Sun’s activity is highest, expected for the summer of 2025, is advancing. Therefore, the chances of a solar storm affecting Earth are higher. All the details, below.

The period in which the Sun's activity is highest, forecast for 2025, appears to be coming sooner than expected. Here’s what it could mean for Earth.

The Sun has been experiencing more intense activity than usual in recent months. According to scientists, more solar phenomena than what is considered ‘normal’ occur on the surface of our star reflects that of the solar maximum, i.e. , the period in which the Sun’s activity is at its highest - expected for the summer of 2025 - is being brought forward.

Therefore, the chances of a solar storm affecting the Earth have increased. So, what does this phenomenon consist of? It is clear: this is a temporary disturbance that will affect the Earth’s magnetosphere, as a result of certain phenomena that occur in the sun, according to the National Geographic Institute of Spain.

Origin of solar storms

Its origin is external and is produced by a sudden increase in the particles emitted in solar eruptions that reach the magnetosphere, causing alterations in the Earth's magnetic field. They can last from several hours to even a few days.

These geomagnetic storms have a global character, starting simultaneously at all points on Earth. However, the scope with which storms are observed in different places are different, being greater the higher the latitudes.

Solar storm could leave the world without communications “for months”

To know the impact of this phenomenon, you only need to observe the consequences it has had on previous occasions. Communication systems, such as radio signals and satellite navigation systems, may experience interruptions.

Power grids are also vulnerable, since geomagnetic currents induced by solar storms can damage transformers and other electrical equipment, which can lead to blackouts - even ones that are total. It is one of the conclusions that Cigref, a network of major French companies and public administrations, mentions in its latest guidance report.

In their opinion, this can deprive the world of electrical networks and communications “for several days, even months”, causing the total paralysis of communications and all the activities that depend on them.

While these solar storms can have impressive visual effects in the form of aurora at latitutdes near the poles, the solar particles increase radiation in the upper atmosphere. which can represent a risk to the health of astronauts and damage the electronics of satellites.

As well, they can cause havoc for our modern infrastructure on Earth that most of us depend on for our daily lives. Preparing for and getting through the consequences of a particularly powerful solar storm requires planning and preventative measures. Below, National Geographic details some strategies to deal with these types of events:

  • Stay informed: Stay up to date with space weather alerts and forecasts issued by agencies such as NOAA and other similar organizations. These alerts can provide advance information about possible solar storms.
  • Emergency plan: Develop an emergency plan for your home and family that includes actions to take in the event of a severe solar storm. Make sure all family members know the plan and how to execute it.
  • Communications: Make sure you have alternative communication methods available, such as shortwave radios or CB radios, as cellular networks and internet can be affected during a solar storm.
  • Supply Reserves: Store non-perishable food, drinking water and essential medicines for at least two weeks, in case prolonged power outages occur and affect the supply of basic goods.
  • Backup Power: Consider investing in a portable generator and keep it charged and ready to go.
  • Protection of electronic devices: Electronic devices can be affected by solar storms. To protect them, use surge protectors on your devices.
  • Finances: Have cash on hand, as electronic transactions and ATMs may be affected by power outages or communications interruptions.
  • Community Networks: Collaborate with your neighbors and the local community to develop emergency plans and share resources in the event of a severe solar storm.