The investigators will conduct research to expand the benefits from scientific advances in space weather and shorten the time required to realize these benefits. This study will develop policy analyses that will build the capacity of space weather scientists and policy makers to improve decision making regarding present and future technologies impacted by space weather. Specifically, this project will: (1) identify and analyze current and future policy issues within the space weather field; (2) identify and analyze past milestones in each of the following three areas and how they relate to each other: emergence of technological systems, progress of our understanding of space weather, and societal and policy issues with respect to space weather; (3) integrate these research results into the ongoing American Meteorological Society (AMS) development of university policy curricula and case studies; and (4) develop an AMS policy research program in collaboration with universities that allows students to conduct independent research and learn about policy research methods. There is a growing consensus that suggests practical benefits of research would be more rapid if the goals of scientific advance and application were more integrated. The investigators will treat them as an integrated, inseparable, and holistic activity. This breaks new ground in coupling physical science and social science/policy, thereby changing the manner in which both are conducted. The research project will advance understanding of space weather policy issues and build the capacity of the next generation of space weather scientists to support decision-makers confronting increasingly complex scientific and technical policy issues. This will be accomplished by developing the needed policy research and educating space weather students to become knowledgeable and effective in the policy process. This will accelerate the progress in the science as well as its application. Additionally, this work will significantly increase the number of people who understand both space weather and the associated policy issues. Policy research coupled with an understanding of the process by which benefits are derived from science advance can greatly accelerate the realization of benefits. The success of this in space weather can foster similar acceleration in related fields since the field represents a microcosm of the policy issues confronting the Earth system science community more broadly: e.g., data sharing, the need for substantial R&D, communicating warnings to users, the mixed public-private dimensions of forecasts and information. The research component will lead to a better understanding of the social, policy, and economic aspects of space weather and enable scientists to facilitate application of their research progress into societal benefit. The research will also provide information for policy formulation. The results can assist industries in becoming more aware of what space weather information can provide and how it can mitigate risks and improve the safety and efficiency of their operations. By integrating these results into the ongoing educational effort at AMS, it will allow the next generation of scientists to be more effective in communicating with policy makers and communicating the benefits of science to the public. Overall, this work will increase societal awareness of space weather and justify the needed national attention.

Project Report

Since the last solar maximum in 2001, societal dependence on the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) has increased substantially. Critical applications such as railway control, highway traffic management, precision agriculture, emergency response, commercial aviation, and marine navigation all require and depend almost solely on GNSS services. Everyday activities such as banking, mobile phone operations, and even the control of power grids are facilitated by the accurate timing provided by the Global Positioning System (GPS), which is just one component of GNSS. As our national critical infrastructure and economy are increasingly dependent on positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) services, our society is vulnerable to disruptions that can be caused by space weather, or variable conditions on the Sun and in the space environment that can influence space-borne and ground-based technological systems. Today, the vulnerabilities of GPS are well categorized and it is understood that space weather is the largest contributor to single-frequency GPS errors and a significant factor for differential GPS. Primary space weather impacts on GPS include range errors and loss of signal reception. The GPS industry faces several scientific and engineering challenges to keep pace with increasingly complex user needs: developing receivers that are resistant to scintillation and how to better predict of the state of the ionosphere. With GPS modernization, the use of additional signals is expected to reduce error caused by the ionosphere. However, there are several steps that can be taken now to reduce the vulnerability of GPS and its applications to space weather. To date, there remain gaps in our understanding of the risks of space weather to GPS and its applications and how to build resilience. In response to this need, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Policy Program conducted a policy study to research key issues involving the need for and use of space weather information. In addition, AMS organized a workshop October 13-14, 2010 in Washington, DC on "Satellite Navigation & Space Weather: Understanding the Vulnerability & Building Resilience." The participants discussed options to resolve policy issues facing the GPS community, better equipping government and industry leaders to make effective decisions with respect to space weather and GPS. The overarching recommendation was that the U.S. should strengthen the integrity and robustness of the GPS system and services by: • completing the modernization of the GPS enterprise, • ensuring backup systems, • developing better space weather predictions, • setting standards for satellites and receivers to handle extreme space weather conditions, and • examining GPS resilience through an all-hazards lens. The PI's findings from interviews with GPS industry representatives are summarized below: GPS & Space Weather Policy Issues 1. Understanding Vulnerability: The growth of GPS users has increased since the last solar cycle. Users of GPS applications are generally unaware of space weather. The general lack of awareness of space weather is a result of solar minimum. Scientists are not sure of the space weather impacts on the GPS L2C & L5 signals. 2. Building Resilience: The aviation community is trying to mitigate impacts to the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS), and the Local Area Augmentation System (LAAS). Industry is looking at how space weather can impact high precision positioning for E911 positioning accuracy, electric power, railway control, highway traffic management, emergency response, and marine navigations. Companies are aware of space weather conditions and will modify operations if adverse impacts are expected (e.g., oil drilling, marine navigation, surveying). 3. Improving models: A precise ionospheric model is important to the National Geodetic Survey, allowing surveying groups to only spend a few minutes (even seconds) on the site versus an hour (what it currently takes). The GPS industry needs better predictions of the state of ionosphere, including days-ahead forecasts that begin with forewarning of a solar eruption. 4. Improving use of information: GPS service companies monitor space weather for their customers (agriculture, oil, marine, etc.) by either receiving NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) alerts or U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) reports. GPS service companies want to know when and how long an event will occur. Currently there are no space weather requirements for receiver manufacturers. A major challenge for the space weather community is that the GPS industry is still largely unaware of impacts of space weather and in particular, how this Solar Max might affect their operations. Understanding user needs and policy decision making by the GPS community is a process. Therefore, AMS took the first step by organizing a workshop that characterized satellite navigation's vulnerability to space weather and discussed how to build resilience for the future. AMS will continue to work with the GPS industry, space weather community, and policy makers to implement the recommendations. Further information on the outcomes of this study can be found on the AMS Policy Program’s webpage:

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences (AGS)
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Farzad Kamalabadi
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American Meteorological Society
United States
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