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Space weather: impacts on engineered systems, infrastructure and society

The Royal Academy of Engineering report, Extreme space weather: impacts on engineered systems and infrastructure, was the UK's first in-depth assessment of the potential impacts of solar superstorms.

Explosive eruptions of energy from the Sun that cause minor solar storms on Earth are relatively common events. Superstorms, by contrast, occur very rarely - perhaps once every century or two. Most superstorms miss the Earth, travelling harmlessly into space. Of those that do travel towards the Earth, only half interact with our environment and cause damage. However, a solar superstorm is inevitable at some point and will degrade the performance of the electricity grid, satellites, GPS systems, aviation and possibly mobile communications.

The Academy recommends that a UK Space Weather Board be initiated within government to provide overall leadership of UK space weather activities - this board must have the capacity to maintain an overview of space weather strategy across all government departments. More research is needed into the full effects of solar superstorms. In some respects UK planning is well advanced, and this should be continued, combining appropriate forecasting, engineering and operational procedures.

To read more please see the News Release

Links to the full and summary reports are given below.

Any inquiries about the study should be addressed to Katherine MacGregor

 

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