RAS Meeting: Ground effects of severe space weather events

This RAS Specialist Discussion Meeting is to be held at Burlington House on 9 March, organised by Ciaran Beggan (BGS); Jim Wild (Lancaster); and Mark Gibbs (Met Office). If you'd like more details, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . The abstract is as follows!

As a society, the UK is reliant on continuously available electricity supplies and technology such as instantaneous satellite data and communications in order to function safely and efficiently. For example, systems such as transportation networks are increasingly automated and the computer networks which run them require accurate real-time information from embedded electronic sensors and other peripheral data such as timing derived from GPS. However, this dependence increases the exposure to impacts on technology from so-called severe space weather events. Space weather is usually defined as the response of Earth's magnetosphere and ionosphere to sudden rapid changes in the properties of the solar wind such as increases in speed, density and magnetic field strength.

These changes in the magnetosphere and ionosphere cause the magnetic field at the Earth's surface to vary rapidly giving rise to geomagnetically induced currents (GICs) which can flow through conductive grounded equipment, such as high-voltage transformers, affecting the reliability of electricity supplies. The additional energy input from the solar wind also changes the conductivity structure of the ionosphere and pushes the auroral oval equatorward. This affects the propagation of radio waves through the atmosphere delaying GPS signals and leading to spatial and temporal errors on the ground; HF communications to circumpolar aircraft may also be disrupted. As well as the impact on electricity grids, GICs also cause additional unwanted corrosion in pipelines and the potential for signalling or other faults to develop in rail networks.

We seek presentations on a broad topic of ground effect of space weather in the UK (but specifically excluding satellite or spacecraft effects), in particular to GIC in power networks, railways and pipelines and topics such as impacts on surveyors and others end users (e.g. airlines/port authorities) of precise GPS location and timing data.

This specialist discussion meeting, aimed at academic and industry researchers and relevant end users, will discuss the latest research in the UK on understanding and ameliorating these impacts in light of recent developments in the field.