The Royal Academy of Engineering is conducting a study on the engineering and societal impacts of space weather. This will cover both extreme events and less severe events where the impact remains high. The study team will be led by Professor Paul Cannon FREng and will draw on the expertise of a study working group. The Academy aims to publish a report of its findings in Autumn 2012. Evidence is being invited through a public call for evidence, stakeholder meetings and through professional networks.

Extreme space weather events have recently been identified as an important risk to the UK’s national infrastructure and in 2011 they were, for the first time, included as part of the National Risk Assessment (NRA). Affected systems are diverse and include avionics and air passenger safety, satellite navigation and the national grid.

In support of the NRA, the Cabinet Office has conducted a first pass assessment of the impacts of extreme space weather storms but there remains much uncertainty.

In addition to extreme space weather events, those of a lesser magnitude occur much more regularly. Each of these lesser events cause less immediate impact – but the integrated effect over days, weeks and months can be high.

Study Chair Professor Paul Cannon FREng commented: “This study will have a strong engineering flavour and will attempt to understand the impact of space weather in a number of technology areas. The study is important because it seeks to help the UK better balance its assessment of space weather risks against other environmental risks.”

Notes for editors

  1. Further details and terms of reference for the study are available:
    Engineering policy - current issues
  2. The Academy’s call for evidence is open until Tuesday 10 April 2012. The best way to submit evidence is by e-mail to Policy team but we can also receive evidence sent to The Royal Academy of Engineering, 3 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5DG. Please indicate in your submission if you are happy to be identified in the final report.
  3. For enquiries concerning the call for evidence or the study, please contact: Richard Ploszek, Senior Policy Advisor, Tel: 020 7766 0603
  4. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

the Royal Academy of Engineering press office:
Jane Sutton tel. 020 7766 0636

or

Lesley Paterson tel. 020 7766 0684