Consumer-Grade GPS to Suffer in 2011?

Infosyncworld, among others, noticed that GPS, er, sucked in December - and posted that it was due to a solar flare. My own local paper (opens in new tab) elaborates with a story from the AP detailing how we can expect more of this excitement in the future:

The Global Positioning System, relied on for everything from navigating airplanes to transferring money between banks, may be threatened by solar flares, scientists warned on Wednesday.

The big problem is that solar flares occur in 11 year cycles - the next one is due in 2011. During our last peak, in 2000, GPS wasn't as widespread as it is now. I've heard from various doomsayers that your average GPS unit will experience 2011 in the same way that a newborn experiences light: bright, fuzzy, confusing, and not able to really identify anything specific.

So get your GPS fun in now, before the sun starts having its way with it.

WC Staff
1 Comment
  • I have seen several of these stories around, and while accurate, leaves one wrong impression. The solar cycle is a CYCLE. The peak, while predicted for 2011, also means that high levels may occur from as early as late 2009 through into 2013, depending on just when the peak actually occurs. Sustained high levels of solar activty can last for months. While the peak in 2000 was rather lackluster, the peak in 1989 held up from 1988 through into 1991. Harmful to communications of GPS's type, it makes for wonderful conditions for ham radio and shortwave listeners.