Basics of Space Weather and Its Economic Impacts

Monday, February 15, 2016: 9:00 AM-10:30 AM
Wilson A (Marriott Wardman Park)
Daniel N. Baker, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
The Impacts of Space Weather on Society and the Economy

Modern society depends heavily on a variety of technologies that are vulnerable to the effects of intense geomagnetic storms and solar energetic particle (SEP) events. Solar storm-driven ionospheric disturbances interfere with high-frequency radio communications, navigation signals from Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites, and the bulk electric power grid. Exposure of spacecraft to solar particles and radiation belt enhancements can cause temporary operational anomalies, damage critical electronics, degrade satellite solar arrays, and blind optical systems such as imagers and star trackers. In addition to direct effects such as power grid outages, a thorough assessment of the impacts must include the collateral effects of space-weather-driven technology failures. Modern technological society is characterized by a complex set of interdependencies among its critical infrastructures and space-weather-driven technology failures can cause major disruption of infrastructures and services. This presentation will describe economic and societal impacts of severe space weather as well as some possible mitigation strategies.