Space Weather

Space weather is a term to describe disturbances, which relates to variations in the sun, solar, wind, magnetosphere and thermosphere. Space weather can influence the performance and reliability of a variety of space-borne and ground-based technological systems and can also endanger human health and safety.

It’s believed that severe space weather could have impacts on a range of technologies and infrastructure, including power networks, satellite services, transport and digital control components. Another risk planes being caught in a storm outside of the protective layers of the atmosphere as this could result in receiving elevated doses of radiation. At risk of this is passengers of high altitude aircraft - although a low dose, aviation authorities will be using warnings from the Met Office and others to adjust flight paths.

Monitoring space weather is critical to forewarning of solar events which could generate severe space weather at earth.

Following space weather being added as a major risk to the National Risk Register, the Met Office has started using data to predict solar events. Solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) will now form part of the Met Office's forecasting.

Space Weather Risks

There are a number of risks which can be generated from space weather, but the main ones are;

  • Fatalities.
  • Injuries / illness.
  • Social disruption.
  • Economic harm.
  • Psychological impact.