4 November, 2019 News stories

A team of international researchers, including Professor Richard Horne from British Antarctic Survey, has been awarded best research study from the journal Risk Analysis for 2019. The study, led by Edward Oughton from University of Oxford, quantified the financial cost of a severe space weather event and that by investing in forecasting the economic loss due to a large-scale storm could drop from £2.9 billion to £0.9 billion.

Aurora, which depicts a storm in space, over Halley Research Station in Antarctica. Credit: Antony Dubber@BAS

The study found that for a large-scale-sized 1-in-100-year event with no space weather forecasting capability, the gross domestic product loss to the United Kingdom could be as high as £15.9 billion. However, this figure drops to £2.9 billion based on current forecasting capability. However, with existing satellites nearing the end of their life, current forecasting capability will decrease in coming years. So if no further investment takes place, critical infrastructure will become more vulnerable to space weather. Additional investment could provide enhanced forecasting, reducing the economic loss for a large-scale 1-in-100-year event to £0.9 billion.

Professor Richard Horne, Head of the Space Weather Team at British Antarctic Survey, says:

“As society becomes ever-more dependent on satellite communications, space weather becomes an increasingly important issue that requires careful monitoring. By quantifying the cost of extreme space weather we show what is at stake for society if we experience a 1-in-100 year event.”

A risk assessment framework for the socio-economic impacts of electricity transmission infrastructure failure due to space weather: An application to the United Kingdom by Edward J. Oughton ,1,8,∗ Mike Hapgood ,2 Gemma S. Richardson ,3 Ciar´an D. Beggan ,3 Alan W. P. Thomson ,3 Mark Gibbs ,4 Catherine Burnett ,4 C. Trevor Gaunt ,5 Markos Trichas,6 Rabia Dada,7 and Richard B. Horne 8 is published in the journal Risk Analysis here