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Severe Space Weather Events—Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts: A Workshop Report
those interested in space weather, is a national resource that is quickly disappearing and that this, in his opinion, is an issue that needs to be addressed. Murtagh noted that NOAA SWPC is trying to address the problem and has had five to seven students per year in various summer programs.
One audience member noted the large number of various types of programs discussed and wondered what they cost. He questioned what he felt was a lack of cooperation among the various agencies and also asked why the people using the services were not paying for them. He asked, “Why does it seem like everything is so frayed?” Workshop participant Louis Lanzerotti pointed out that there is a U.S. National Space Weather Program and that several of the agencies involved in it were represented on the panel.
Space weather services in the United States are provided primarily by government organizations such as NASA, NOAA’s SWPC, and elements of the DOD. NASA has the largest number of civilian space satellites that provide the raw data used by other organizations in creating tailored products to meet customers’ needs. It is also the primary organization for providing the scientific research for understanding space weather phenomena. NOAA provides more refined space weather data, forecasts, and warning products that are most relevant to the public and industry. The U.S. Air Force is the lead agency designated with the responsibility for providing space weather assessments for the military. Its emphasis is on providing situational awareness (real-time conditions) of the space weather environment and assessments of impacts on military operations and systems.
The space weather infrastructure cannot function without the continual stream of space weather data collected by various assets on the ground and in space. Although NASA currently provides much of the raw data from its research satellites, William Murtagh and Herbert Keyser said that they foresee potential gaps in space weather coverage because of inadequate plans for deploying new and dedicated systems. Other problems are caused by hardware development programs going over their budgets, such as NPOESS, which has led to cuts in future data collection capabilities.
Several speakers mentioned the challenges of improving the cooperation among the various organizations that provide space weather services. In particular, Michael Hapgood highlighted the difficulties by describing the current European space weather infrastructure as “complicated and fragmented.” Essentially all speakers suggested that a strong case could be made for better networking with national and international partners. An example of a success story for cooperation is the multiagency CCMC, which has been tasked with transitioning research-based space weather models and making them more useful to the operational community. This is a major undertaking that is required to make the leap from now-casting to having the ability to predict severe storms days in advance.
1. Situational awareness involves the perception and understanding of current space events, threats, activities, and conditions, including natural environmental conditions and space systems status, capabilities, constraints, and use, and an ability to assess potential near-term outcomes.
2. Keyser referred specifically to the NSF’s Global Oscillation Network Group (GONG) and Synoptic Optical Long-term Investigation of the Sun (SOLIS) initiatives.