The security and economic health of our society depend critically on the availability of reliable electrical power, communications systems, precision global timing and positioning resources, and remote-sensing satellites. Space weather, originating from electromagnetic storms in the Sun’s atmosphere, can cause fluctuations or prolonged outages in these resources. Large space-weather events have economic impacts that are comparable to those of major natural disasters such as hurricanes and tsunamis. However, our ability to reliably evaluate and quantify the impacts of space weather on society falls far short of the needs of the industries involved, their regulatory organizations, disaster-response organizations, and the insurance industry. Observations of stars that are comparable to our Sun suggest that space storms can sometimes be much more severe than we have experienced to date in the modern electronic age. Because our society is becoming ever more dependent on systems susceptible to space weather, advancing understanding of Earth’s variable space environment and its potential societal impacts is essential for domestic and international economic and military security.
The two-day meeting on Space Weather Risks and Society brings together experts in solar and space weather, industry, economics, regulatory bodies, and emergency management to discuss the societal impacts of space weather, how to avoid or mitigate such impacts, and how to respond to them. The participants will discuss (1) how to integrate existing knowledge of space-weather phenomena from a variety of sources, and how to effectively evaluate consequences of space-weather induced disruptions to quantify societal impacts; (2) the development of useful moderate-event and extreme-event scenarios with realistic analysis-based impacts on evolving technological systems, and development of corresponding event-response manuals for (inter-)national emergency-response organizations; (3) an assessment of space-weather impacts on present and future technological applications, and how to manage, reduce, or eliminate those impacts.
The goals of the workshop are (a) the identification of the most important areas where increased understanding of space weather and its impacts on security and economy is critical; (b) an assessment of how to quantify potential consequences of technological impacts of space weather, how to integrate and evaluate existing knowledge, how to efficiently educate stakeholders with a wide variety of backgrounds and interests, and how to optimize avenues of research; and (c) the outline of domestic and international infrastructures for expert advice on space weather impacts on security and economy.
The workshop will have sessions with presentations, panel discussions, breakout sessions, and an integrating discussion to formulate needs. The plan is to review at least the following functions required to better integrate space weather into the existing regulatory, operational, forecasting, insurance, and disaster response organizations:
1. Integrate and evaluate knowledge of space-weather phenomena and consequences from all relevant sources (in part by acting as a research center with permanent staff and visitors of a wide range of backgrounds and interests) to estimate probabilities of occurrence of impacts of a given magnitude.
2. Develop moderate-event and extreme-event scenarios with realistic analysis-based impacts on power, navigation, timing or communications systems that change with evolving technologies, and provide event-response manuals for the various national and international responding organizations.
3. Provide evaluations of space-weather impacts on new technological applications.
4. Assess enhanced discovery potential with advancing instrumentation, methodologies, synergies, and funding structures.
5. Provide independent assessment and evaluation of effectiveness of forecasting and monitoring systems, of response plans and resources, and of space-weather informationdistribution and alert systems.
6. Interface with scientists, forecasters, and leaders in government and society in emergency planning and preparedness, in policy development, and in international coordination.
7. Develop educational and informational materials and courses for scientists, societal leadership, emergency responders, media, and public; and serve as training center for all classes of stakeholders.