Nation Boosting Space Weather Preparedness

Earlier today the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) hosted an event (archived video not yet available) on space weather.  This weather includes solar flares, coronal ejections, solar energetic particles and other phenomena that can affect systems on Earth or in orbit.  The event marked announcements by several agencies and organizations (including Airlines for America, the Air Force, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) on what they are doing in space weather.

The event also marks the release of the National Space Weather Strategy and the National Space Weather Action Plan.  The Action Plan describes how the Strategy will be implemented (with timelines and deliverables), and both reflect intended investments by the Administration in its next federal budget.  There are six broad strategic goals

  • Establish Benchmarks for Space-Weather Events
  • Enhance Response and Recovery Capabilities
  • Improve Protection and Mitigation Efforts
  • Improve Assessment, Modeling, and Prediction of Impacts on Critical Infrastructure
  • Improve Space-Weather Services through Advancing Understanding and Forecasting
  • Increase International Cooperation

The Strategy and Action Plan are not working in a (policy) vacuum.  The U.S. has been working on space weather for a long time, and the Space Weather Prediction Center is a functioning element of the National Weather Service and can be traced back to a National Bureau of Standards lab set up in the 1940s to provide forecasts on radio blackouts.  What today’s meeting and releases suggest to me is an effort to standardize and broaden the data and data collection on space weather to assist in developing a more systematic approach to space weather that can cause problems here on Earth.

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