Those experiencing glitches with their used cell phones in Cape Town may not be able to blame the phone company for once – instead it seems as if the sun may be the culprit. Experts are claiming that solar flares, flames which shoot out from the sun and are able to disrupt electronic and telecommunications devices here on Earth, could be responsible for issues such as slow internet, disrupted power supply, poor signal reception, and problems with GPS and long distance communications.
Scientists say that solar flare activity is increasing due to the fact that the sun is reaching the peak point of its traditional 11-year cycle. The “X class or X rated flare observed on Tuesday August 9 was very serious,” says Kobus Olckers, the space weather officer at the SA National Space Agency (also sometimes referred to simply as SANSA), “but the chances of the flares shooting at planet Earth are very minimal. Instead, they shoot off to somewhere else in space.” He admits however that the flares do have a tendency to disrupt long distance communication on a global level (from South Africa to Somalia, to give just one example) and can even cause flights to be cancelled because they have also been known to have an effect on compasses.
NASA in the United States has stated that it has recorded the biggest solar flare for five years on the 9th of August.