Space Weather Forecasting: A new era

space-wallpapers-1 CroppedA unique weather forecasting center has been established recently in UK. It is unique in the sense that it will enable people to monitor space weather and its impacts on earth. The role of this center is vital as it will provide protection from the threat of severe space weather events. The Met Office Space Weather Center is based at Exeter UK. The space weather center was setup through £4.6 million funding from the Government. It is operational round the clock providing space weather forecasts, developing an early warning system aimed at protecting telecommunication and electronic devices from the impacts of space weather.

This is a collaborative effort of UK and USA with UK's Prime Minister and US President having extensive talks for the past 3 years starting in London in May 2011, and following it up with the talks in the White House in March 2012.

Space weather covers the near-Earth impacts of Solar flares, Geomagnetic storms and Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) from the sun. The impact of these on Earth is becoming even more important as people become more dependent on technology. The commitment required for accurately forecasting and preparing for the impacts from space weather is similar to terrestrial weather forecasting. Collaborative efforts of UK and USA will help to promote preparedness to protect critical telecommunication devices and other infrastructure against the growing and evolving global impacts from space weather. Space weather is identified as the fourth most important risk for the earth and electronic devices

Many industries have been asked to identify the threat, its possible impacts & to reduce the risks. The major areas which are exposed to space weather threat are:-

  • Power grid Failures
  • Disruption to GNSS/GPS systems
  • HF radio communications failures
  • Damage to Satellite
  • Increased radiation threat at high altitude

Agencies like National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center Science and Technology Facilities Council(STFC), British Geological Survey (BGS), University of Bath, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) Space, British Antarctic Survey and several other universities and research organizations are providing support, data, information and models.

Picture courtesy: wonderfulengineering.com

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