. "8 Facilitated Open Audience Discussion: The Way Forward." Severe Space Weather Events--Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts: A Workshop Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2008.
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Severe Space Weather Events—Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts: A Workshop Report
noted the possibility of including space weather as a regular topic on the Weather Channel, an outlet identified as the premier vehicle for public education about weather.
Closely linked with public awareness is the problem of awareness in the policy community. Policy makers, it was noted, generally attend to matters that the public is worried about: when the general public does not perceive a problem, the attention of the policy community will be scant at best. Another audience member noted a problem of translation: the policy community doesn’t speak “weather.”
It was lamented that, in the eyes of the public and policy communities, severe space weather lacks salience as a problem: it is very difficult to inspire non-specialists to prepare for a potential crisis that has never happened before, and may not happen for decades to come. Attention inevitably is drawn toward higher-frequency risks and immediate problems. To counteract this tendency, Roberta Balstad (CIESIN) cited the importance of crafting well-articulated scenarios of what could happen and how it could affect the public in the case of a severe space weather event. Balstad and others also noted the need for opportunities for specialists to have access to education and advanced training in space weather. Bodeau noted at one point that it is very rare, even in the commercial satellite industry, to encounter specialists who understand both the physics of space weather and the engineering requirements necessary to harden satellites against space weather events. One participant raised the possibility of creating specialized M.S. programs in space weather. Paul Kintner noted that he teaches a small amount on space weather in a single course at Cornell University but that his students respond with deep indifference.
THE WAY FORWARD
What developments in the current system of space weather risk management would yield the greatest benefit? In synthesizing the ideas and discussion offered in this session and in the entire workshop, audience members offered several perspectives and suggestions about current needs:
Improved physical understanding of solar processes to enable forecasting (Chenette).
Effective means of transitioning from models to operations (Singer).
The addition of space weather coverage to the Weather Channel.
The codification of risk assessment standards for space weather events, including space weather analogs to 100-year risks (Hapgood).
Analysis of cascading effects on complex, coupled systems (La Porte).
The articulation of scenarios that illustrate the effects of space weather, as a means to educate the public and policy community about the importance of space weather (Balstad).
In a spirit of concern mixed with optimism, the conference adjourned.
1. L1 is the point between Earth and the Sun at which the gravitational pull of these two bodies is evenly balanced. The significance of L1 is that a satellite placed at this node will tend to stay there, with only minor positional adjustments.
2. The potential impacts of space weather events on electric power grids are discussed extensively in other chapters of this report.
4. A dependency was characterized as a relationship in which one system relies for its operation on functions provided by another system: a subway transport system depends on the power grid for delivery of electricity. An interdependency was characterized as a relationship in which two systems rely on each other for their smooth operation. If an electric power grid requires operational support from a computing system that is itself powered by that same power grid, then the grid and the computing system are interdependent.