Space Weather Forecasting Service Being Launched In The UK
In a partnership with the Met Office, the UK Government is about to launch a space weather forecasting system. It will work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. This will place the United Kingdom alongside just a few other countries, who are keeping a close eye on the weather between the Sun and the Earth’s atmosphere.
This has been made possible by a £4.6 million investment from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, allowing the Met Office to run the service and work hard to protect the UK’s infrastructure. The amount of money that has been invested towards this space weather forecasting system represents around one thousandth of the available science budget. However, this money is being taken from a separate pool of funds.
Monitoring the skies is becoming an increasingly required endeavour
The term space weather, is used to refer to the continuously changing conditions between the Sun and Earth. Which pose huge risks to the way we live on Earth. Nearly all stem from bursts of energy given off by the Sun. One of the biggest threats is a CME large plasma bubble, which can instigate a geomagnetic storm. If this was to happen, and there is a chance it could, there could be a detrimental impact to our electricity grid. Just let that sink in, take a few seconds to think about the scenario.
Any impact to the electricity grid could mean NO ELECTRICITY! Therefore, no internet, no emails, no mobile phones, and most likely in the worst case scenario a world wide black out. The sad reality is, a very large majority including multinational firms, governments and normal folk, are dependent on modern technology. As such the thought of a long-term blackout is a worrying prospect.
It will be spring in 2014 before the space weather forecasting system will be able to produce any space forecasts, but it will be autumn before the service is up and running to its fullest capability. It is hoped the service will allow scientists to get the jump on any risk planet Earth could be facing, and warn businesses and organisations so they are able to minimise any disruption by creating contingency plans.
The US already have a similar space weather forecasting system in place, and they hope to work closely with the UK. I am sure almost everyone is in agreement, that the more eyes watching the skies can only be a good thing so that Earth and our lives are not disrupted or minimally disrupted by our Sun.