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Severe Space Weather Events--Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts: A Workshop Report - Extended SummaryThe effects of space weather on modern technological systems are well documented in both the technical literature and popular accounts. Most often cited perhaps is the collapse within 90 seconds of northeastern Canada's Hydro-Quebec power grid during the great geomagnetic storm of March 1989, which left millions of people without electricity for up to 9 hours. This event exemplifies the dramatic impact that severe space weather can have on a technology upon which modern society critically depends. Nearly two decades have passed since the March 1989 event. During that time, awareness of the risks of severe space weather has increased among the affected industries, mitigation strategies have been developed, new sources of data have become available, new models of the space environment have been created, and a national space weather infrastructure has evolved to provide data, alerts, and forecasts to an increasing number of users. Now, 20 years later and approaching a new interval of increased solar activity, how well equipped are we to manage the effects of space weather? Have recent technological developments made our critical technologies more or less vulnerable? How well do we understand the broader societal and economic impacts of severe space weather events? Are our institutions prepared to cope with the effects of a 'space weather Katrina,' a rare, but according to the historical record, not inconceivable eventuality? On May 22 and 23, 2008, a one-and-a-half-day workshop held in Washington, D.C., under the auspices of the National Research Council's (NRC's) Space Studies Board brought together representatives of industry, the federal government, and the social science community to explore these and related questions. The key themes, ideas, and insights that emerged during the presentations and discussions are summarized in 'Severe Space Weather Events--Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts: A Workshop Report' (The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2008), which was prepared by the Committee on the Societal and Economic Impacts of Severe Space Weather Events: A Workshop. The present document is an expanded summary of that report.
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Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2009
Subject Category
Space Sciences (General)
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