The U.S. National Space Weather Strategy

 

To understand the magnitude of the threat our nation faces from all forms of space
weather, and how to prepare for these eventualities, it is helpful to
understand our government’s approach toward monitoring, protection, response,
and recovery from Space Weather. As you read our government’s approach toward
Space Weather, ask yourself whether this strategy adequately addresses the
likely economic and societal collapse associated with a catastrophic collapse
event of this magnitude.

 

The following has been reprinted with permission. It is the full text of the
National Space Weather Strategy adopted in October 2015.

 

NATIONAL
SPACE WEATHER STRATEGY

 

 

PRODUCT OF THE

 

National Science and Technology Council

 

October 2015

 

 

About the National Science and
Technology Council

 

The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) is the principal
means by which the Executive Branch coordinates science and technology policy
across the diverse entities that make up the Federal research and development
enterprise. One of the NSTC’s primary objectives is establishing clear national
goals for Federal science and technology investments. The NSTC prepares R&D
packages aimed at accomplishing multiple national goals. The NSTC’s work is
organized under five committees: Environment, Natural Resources, and
Sustainability (CENRS); Homeland and National Security; Science, Technology,
Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education; Science; and Technology. Each of
these committees oversees subcommittees and working groups that are focused on
different aspects of science and technology. More information is available at
www.whitehouse.gov/ostp/nstc.

 

About the Office of Science and
Technology Policy

 

The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) was established by
the National Science and Technology Policy, Organization, and Priorities Act of
1976. OSTP’s responsibilities include advising the President in policy
formulation and budget development on questions in which science and technology
are important elements; articulating the President’s science and technology
policy and programs; and fostering strong partnerships among Federal, State,
and local governments, and the scientific communities in industry and academia.
The Director of OSTP also serves as Assistant to the President for Science and
Technology and manages the NSTC. More information is available at
www.whitehouse.gov/ostp.

 

About the Space Weather
Operations, Research, and Mitigation (SWORM)
Task Force

 

The Space Weather Operations, Research, and Mitigation (SWORM) task force, an interagency group
organized under the NSTC, CENRS,
Subcommittee on Disaster Reduction (SDR), was chartered in November 2014 to
develop a national strategy and a national action plan to enhance national
preparedness for space-weather events.

 

About this Document

 

This document was developed by the SWORM
Task Force. It was released in draft for public comment on the Federal Register
(80 FR 24296), was reviewed by SDR and CENRS,
and was finalized and published by OSTP.

 

Acknowledgements

 

The SWORM Task Force acknowledges
the contributions from the IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute for
providing subject-matter expertise, constructive review, and other
contributions to the development of this strategy.

 

Space Weather Operations,
Research, and Mitigation Task Force

 

Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

 

Department of Homeland Security

 

Office of Science and Technology Policy

 

Members – Departments

 

Department of Commerce

 

Department of Defense

 

Department of Energy

 

Department of Homeland Security

 

Department of the Interior

 

Department of State

 

Department of Transportation

 

Agencies and Service Branches

 

Federal Aviation Administration Federal Communications Commission

 

Federal Emergency Management Agency

 

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

 

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

 

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

 

National Science Foundation

 

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

 

Office of the Director of National Intelligence

 

United States Air Force

 

United States Geological Survey

 

United States Navy

 

United States Postal Service

 

Executive Office of the President

 

National Security Council

 

Office of Management and Budget

 

Office of Science and Technology Policy

 

White House Military Office

 

 

EXECUTIVE
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT

 

NATIONAL
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COUNCIL

 

WASHINGTON,
D.C. 20502

 

October 29, 2015

 

Dear Colleagues,

 

Space weather is a naturally occurring phenomenon that has the potential
to cause substantial detrimental effects on the Nation’s economic and social
well-being. Preparing for and predicting space-weather events and their
potential effects on Earth is a significant challenge. Recent efforts led by
the United States and its international partners have resulted in significant
progress toward improving the understanding, monitoring, prediction, and
mitigation of this hazard, but much more needs to be done.

 

Over the past 5 years, OSTP has coordinated interagency efforts to
improve the Nation’s ability to prepare, avoid, mitigate, respond to, and
recover from the potentially devastating impacts of space-weather events. These
efforts included the establishment of the interagency Space Weather Operations,
Research, and Mitigation (SWORM) Task Force in November 2014. The goal of the
SWORM Task Force was to unite the national- and homeland-security enterprise
with the science and technology enterprise to formulate a cohesive vision to
enhance national preparedness for space weather.

 

This National Space Weather Strategy and accompanying National Space
Weather Action Plan are the result of the SWORM Task Force’s efforts. These
documents transcend agency-mission and sector boundaries to describe how the
Federal Government will coordinate its efforts on space weather and how the
Federal Government plans to engage academia, the private and public sectors,
and other governments on space weather. The Strategy and associated Action Plan
aim to enhance the preparedness of the Nation by interweaving and building upon
existing policy efforts to identify overarching goals that underpin and drive
the activities necessary to improve the security and resilience of critical
technologies and infrastructures.

 

These documents represent only a next step to improving national
preparedness for space weather. The Strategy sets overall goals for Federal
action, while the Action Plan establishes Federal actions and timelines for
implementation. Many of these activities will require long time horizons, which
will necessitate sustained engagement among government agencies and the private
sector. This challenge requires the Nation to work together to continually
improve understanding, prediction, and preparedness to enhance the Nation’s
resilience against severe space-weather events.

 

Sincerely,

 

John P. Holdren

 

Assistant to the President for Science and Technology

 

Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy

 

 

Table
of Contents

 

Executive Summary

 

Introduction

 

Implementation of the National Space Weather Strategy

 

Enhancing National Preparedness and Critical Infrastructure Resilience

 

Strategic Goals

 

1. Establish Benchmarks for Space-Weather Events

 

2. Enhance Response and Recovery Capabilities

 

3. Improve Protection and Mitigation Efforts

 

4. Improve Assessment, Modeling, and Prediction of Impacts on Critical
Infrastructure

 

5. Improve Space-Weather Services through Advancing Understanding and
Forecasting

 

6. Increase International Cooperation

 

Conclusion

 

Executive Summary

 

Space weather refers to variations in the space environment between the
sun and Earth (and throughout the solar system) that can affect technologies in
space and on Earth. Space weather can disrupt the technology that forms the
backbone of this country’s economic vitality and national security, including
satellite and airline operations, communications networks, navigation systems,
and the electric power grid. As the Nation becomes ever more dependent on these
technologies, space weather poses an increasing risk to infrastructure and the
economy. Further, the Strategic National Risk Assessment has identified space
weather as a hazard that poses significant risk to the security of the Nation.
Clearly, reducing vulnerability to space weather needs to be a national
priority.

 

The National Space Weather Strategy (Strategy) and the accompanying
National Space Weather Action Plan (Action Plan) together seek to enhance the
integration of existing national efforts and to add important capabilities to
help meet growing demands for space-weather information. The Strategy and
Action Plan build on recent efforts to reduce risks associated with natural
hazards and improve resilience of essential facilities and systems, aiming to
foster a collaborative environment in which government, industry, and the
American people can better understand and prepare for the effects of space
weather. The Nation must continue to leverage existing public and private
networks of expertise and capabilities and pursue targeted enhancements to
improve the ability to manage risks associated with space weather.

 

Six strategic goals underpin the effort to reduce the Nation’s
vulnerability to space weather:

 

1. Establish Benchmarks for Space-Weather Events: Effective and
appropriate actions for space-weather events require an understanding of the
magnitude and frequency of such events. Benchmarks will help government and
industry assess the vulnerability of critical infrastructure, establish
decision points and thresholds for action, understand risk, and provide points
of reference to enable mitigation procedures and practices and to enhance
response and recovery planning.

 

2. Enhance Response and Recovery Capabilities: There is a need to
develop comprehensive guidance to support and improve response and recovery
capabilities to manage space-weather events, including the capabilities of
Federal, State, and local governments and of the private sector.

 

3. Improve Protection and Mitigation Efforts: Improvements to national
preparedness for space-weather events will require enhancing approaches to
protection and mitigation. Protection focuses on developing capabilities and
actions to secure the Nation from the effects of space weather, including
vulnerability reduction. Mitigation focuses on minimizing risks, addressing
cascading effects, and enhancing disaster resilience. Implementation of these
preparedness missions requires joint action from public and private
stakeholders whose shared expertise and responsibilities are embedded in the
Nation’s infrastructure systems.

 

4. Improve Assessment, Modeling, and Prediction of Impacts on Critical
Infrastructure: Timely, reliable, actionable, and relevant decision-support
services during space-weather events are essential to improving national
preparedness. Societal effects must be understood to better inform the actions
necessary during extreme events and to encourage appropriate mitigation and
protection measures before an incident.

 

5. Improve Space-Weather Services through Advancing Understanding and
Forecasting: Opportunity exists to improve the fundamental understanding of
space weather and increase the accuracy, reliability, and timeliness of
space-weather observations and forecasts (and related products and services).
The underpinning science and observations will help drive advances in modeling
capability and improve the quality of space-weather products and services.
There is also a need to improve capacity to develop and transition the latest
scientific and technological advances into space- weather operations centers.

 

6. Increase International Cooperation: In a world of complex
interdependencies, global engagement and a coordinated international response
to space weather is needed. The United States must not only be an integral part
of the global effort to prepare for space-weather impacts, but must also help
mobilize broad, global support for this effort by using existing agreements and
building international support and policies.

 

The Strategy identifies goals and establishes the guiding principles
that will underpin the Nation’s efforts to secure the infrastructures vital to
national security and economy of the United States. It identifies specific
initiatives to drive both near- and long-term national protection priorities.
It also provides protocols for preparing and responding to space-weather events
and for ensuring that information is available to inform decision-making. This
information will be used to enhance national resilience and prepare an
appropriate response during space-weather storms.

 

This Strategy and the associated Action Plan will facilitate the
integration of space-weather information into Federal risk-management plans to
achieve preparedness levels consistent with national policies. Accomplishing
the strategic elements in the Strategy will require a whole-community approach
to coordinating domestic and international public and private resources.
Government, industry, and the American people must work together to enhance the
resilience of critical infrastructure to the adverse effects of space weather
on the people, economy, and security of the Nation.

 

Whole-community planning for resilience is an approach to emergency
management that reinforces the ideas that the Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA) is only one part of the Nation’s emergency management team; that
collective resources must be leveraged in preparing for, protecting against,
responding to, recovering from, and mitigating against all hazards; and a
collective effort is required to meet the needs of the entire community in each
of these areas.

 

Introduction

 

Space-weather events are naturally occurring phenomena that have the
potential to negatively affect technology and energy infrastructure, which are
essential contributors to national security and economic vitality. The term
“space weather” refers to the dynamic conditions of the space environment that
arise from emissions from the sun, which include solar flares, solar energetic
particles, and coronal mass ejections (CME). Note that not all effects of space
weather are damaging. The aurora borealis is a striking visual manifestation of
space weather. These emissions can interact with Earth and its surrounding
space, including the Earth’s magnetic field, potentially disrupting electric
power systems; satellite, aircraft, and spacecraft operations;
telecommunications; position, navigation, and timing services; and other
technologies and infrastructures. The Nation’s critical infrastructures make up
a diverse, complex, interdependent system of systems in which the failure of
one could cascade to another. Given the importance of reliable electric power
and space-based assets for security and economic well-being, it is essential
that the United States establish a strategy to improve the Nation’s ability to
protect, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the potentially devastating
effects of space-weather events.

 

Space-weather events occur regularly and have measurable effects on
critical infrastructure systems and technologies. The National Space Weather
Strategy (Strategy) and National Space Weather Action Plan (Action Plan)
establish goals and actions to enhance the understanding of risk from, and national
preparedness for, extreme space-weather events. Many of the goals and
activities outlined in the Strategy and Action Plan can be scaled to address
space-weather events that are smaller in magnitude. Such events occur more
frequently than extreme events and can have significant effects.

 

Space weather is a global issue. Unlike terrestrial weather events
(e.g., a hurricane), space weather has the potential to simultaneously affect
the whole of North America or reach even wider geographic regions of the planet.
Even though the United States is a global leader in observing and forecasting
space-weather events, these capabilities depend on international cooperation
and coordination.

 

This Strategy outlines objectives for enhancing the Nation’s
space-weather readiness in three key areas: national preparedness, forecasting,
and understanding. Federal departments and agencies have taken significant
steps in these key areas. The challenges posed by global vulnerability to
space-weather events require continuing research and development to improve
observation and forecasting capabilities, which are linked directly to
preparedness. The goals outlined in this Strategy will leverage these efforts
and existing policies, while promoting
enhanced coordination and cooperation across the public and private sectors in
the United States and abroad.

 

Implementation of the National
Space Weather Strategy

 

The Action Plan, released concurrently with this Strategy, details the
Federal activities that will be undertaken to implement the Strategy and
achieve the six high-level goals, and includes deliverables and timelines. This
Strategy acknowledges the challenges associated with planning and preparing for
extreme events that do not currently have well-defined recurrence rates;
identified activities in the Action Plan should therefore be prioritized
accordingly. The Executive Office of the President will coordinate the
execution of the Action Plan and will reevaluate and update the Strategy and
Action Plan within 3 years of the date of publication, or as needed.

 

Full implementation of this Strategy will require the action of a
nationwide network of governments, agencies, emergency managers, academia, the
media, the insurance industry, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector.
Strong public-private collaborations must be established between the Federal
Government, industry, and academia to enhance observing networks, conduct
research, develop prediction models, and supply the services necessary to
protect life and property and to promote economic prosperity. These
partnerships will form the backbone of a space-weather-ready Nation.

 

Enhancing National Preparedness
and Critical Infrastructure Resilience

 

This Strategy ensures that space weather is fully integrated into the
frameworks of two Presidential Policy Directives (PPDs): PPD-8, “National
Preparedness” (March 30, 2011); and PPD-21, “Critical Infrastructure Security
and Resilience” (February 12, 2013).

 

PPD-8 calls for an integrated, nationwide, capabilities-based approach
to preparedness for all hazards. It also calls for the creation of a series of
National Planning Frameworks. Accordingly, the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) coordinated the development of the Strategic National Risk Assessment
(SNRA). The SNRA identified space weather as one of nine natural hazards with
the potential to significantly affect homeland security.

 

PPD-21 identifies three strategic imperatives to drive the Federal
approach to strengthening critical infrastructure security and resilience at
the core of this Strategy. The Directive identifies energy and communications
systems as vital due to the enabling functions they provide across all critical
infrastructure sectors. The Directive also instructs the Federal Government to
engage with industry and international partners to strengthen the security and
resilience of domestic and international critical infrastructures on which the
Nation depends.

 

Strategic Goals

 

This Strategy defines six strategic goals to prepare the Nation for
near- and long-term space-weather impacts. The goals aim to improve the
Nation’s preparedness for, forecasting of, and understanding of space-weather
events, encompassing efforts related both to the phenomena that cause space
weather and the effects of these phenomena.

 

The six high-level goals for Federal research, development, deployment,
operations, coordination, and engagement are:

 

1. Establish Benchmarks for Space-Weather Events

 

2. Enhance Response and Recovery Capabilities

 

3. Improve Protection and Mitigation Efforts

 

4. Improve Assessment, Modeling, and Prediction of Impacts on Critical
Infrastructure

 

5. Improve Space-Weather Services through Advancing Understanding and
Forecasting

 

6. Increase International Cooperation

 

1. Establish Benchmarks for
Space-Weather Events

 

Benchmarks are a set of characteristics and conditions against which a
space-weather event can be measured. They provide a point of reference from
which to improve the understanding of space-weather effects, develop more
effective mitigation procedures, enhance response and recovery planning, and
understand risk.

 

Benchmarks should provide clear and consistent descriptions of the
relevant physical parameters of space-weather phenomena based on current
scientific understanding and the historical record. For example, benchmarks may
serve as input to vulnerability assessments to help establish decision points
and thresholds for action and to inform practices (e.g., device development,
operational planning, and mitigation efforts). These benchmarks will not seek
to categorize or classify the degree of impact from a space-weather event on a
technology or infrastructure system.

 

To be effective, the benchmarks must be developed in a timely manner
using transparent methodology with a clear statement of assumptions and
uncertainties and publicly available data (where possible). Because of
relatively limited data and gaps in understanding space-weather phenomena,
benchmarks should be reevaluated as significant new data and research become
available. The following objectives should be pursued in the development of
these benchmarks:

 

(a) Define scope, purpose, and approach for developing benchmarks: The
benchmarks will use multiple physical parameters to describe a space-weather
event. The parameters should include characteristics of an event and its
interactions with Earth and near-Earth environments (e.g., geomagnetic and
ionospheric disturbances).

 

(b) Create multiple benchmarks to address different circumstances: The
benchmarks should cover:

 

(c) Different types of space-weather events (e.g., ionospheric
disturbances induced by solar flares, and geomagnetic disturbances induced by
CMEs);

 

(d) Multiple physical parameters that will ensure the functionality of
the benchmarks (e.g., magnitude and duration); and

 

(e) A range of event magnitudes and associated recurrence intervals
(e.g., multiple event scenarios may inform different vulnerability thresholds,
and an understanding of the worst-case scenario may be instructive).

 

2. Enhanced Response and Recovery
Capabilities

 

Extreme space-weather events are potentially high-impact events that
will require a coordinated national response and recovery effort. Leveraging
the National Planning Frameworks, the Nation will develop comprehensive
guidance to support existing response and recovery capabilities to manage
extreme events with government (Federal, State, and local), industry, and other
partners. Improved vulnerability assessments and systems modeling will enhance
planning for the effects of extreme events on critical infrastructure systems
and the Whole Community, as well as inform estimates of duration and costs of
response and recovery measures. Likewise, improved forecasting capabilities
will enable the development of time-sensitive procedures before significant
impacts can occur. Enhancing the Nation’s response and recovery capabilities
will require continued investments, unique solutions, and strong public-private
partnerships. The following objectives should be pursued to enhance response
and recovery capabilities:

 

(a) Complete an all-hazards power outage response and recovery plan: The
primary risk from an extreme space-weather event is the potential for the
long-term loss of electric power and the cascading effects that it would have
on other critical infrastructure sectors. Other high-impact events are also
capable of causing long-term regional or national power outages. It is
essential to have a comprehensive and executable plan (with key decision
points) to address regional or national power outages. The plan must include
the Whole Community and prioritize core capabilities.

 

(b) Support government and private-sector planning for and management of
extreme space-weather events: The incorporation of space-weather event
information into all-hazards planning is limited for Federal, State, and local
governments. Credible information and guidance on how to obtain that knowledge
and incorporate it into government all-hazards planning should be developed and
disseminated.

 

(c) Provide guidance on contingency planning for the effects of extreme
space weather for essential government and industry services: Preservation of
government services, personnel movement, and maintenance of infrastructure
systems are essential before, during, and after an extreme space-weather event.
Government, the private sector, and critical infrastructure entities need
guidance on how to respond in a manner that increases the likelihood of
maintaining essential operational elements for a prolonged period of time.

 

(d) Ensure the capability and interoperability of communications systems
during extreme space-weather events: Effective communications systems are
essential to gaining and maintaining situational awareness and ensuring unity
of effort in response and recovery operations. The effects of space weather on
communications systems occur at different timescales and at varying degrees
within a single event, depending on the system and the characteristics and
duration of the event. Government and private-sector stakeholders need guidance
that allows them to maintain communications capabilities (including
interoperability) during an extreme space-weather event.

 

(e) Encourage owners and operators of infrastructure and technology
assets to coordinate development of realistic power-restoration priorities and
expectations: Electrical power providers should develop protocols for restoring
electrical power before disruptions, in coordination with State and local
governments. Critical-asset owners and operators must work with their providers
to ensure that their power needs are understood. The owners and operators
should consider plans and capabilities for temporary power in the event of an
electrical power disruption caused by an extreme space-weather event.

 

(f) Develop and conduct exercises to improve and test government and
industry-related space-weather response and recovery plans: Evaluating the
effectiveness of plans includes developing and executing a combination of
training events and exercises to determine whether the goals, objectives,
decisions, actions, and timing outlined in the plans support successful
response and recovery. Exercising plans and capturing lessons learned enables
ongoing improvement in event response and recovery capabilities.

 

3. Improve Protection and
Mitigation Efforts

 

Growing interdependencies of critical infrastructure systems have
increased potential vulnerabilities to space-weather events. Protection and
mitigation efforts to eliminate or reduce space-weather vulnerabilities are
essential components of national preparedness. Protection focuses on
capabilities and actions to eliminate vulnerabilities to space weather, and
mitigation focuses on long-term vulnerability reduction and enhancing
resilience to disasters.13 Together, these preparedness missions frame a
national effort to reduce vulnerabilities and manage risks associated with
space-weather events. Implementing these preparedness missions requires joint
action from both public and private stakeholders, due to the shared expertise
and responsibilities embedded in the Nation’s infrastructure systems. The
following objectives should be pursued to improve protection and mitigation
efforts with respect to space-weather events:

 

(a) Encourage development of hazard-mitigation plans that reduce
vulnerabilities to, manage risks from, and assist with response to the effects
of space weather: In support of Whole Community planning for resilience,
information about space-weather hazards should be integrated, as appropriate,
into existing mechanisms for information sharing, including Information Sharing
Analysis Organizations, and into national preparedness mechanisms that promote
strategic alignment between public and private sectors.

 

(b) Work with industry to achieve long-term reduction of vulnerability
to space-weather events by implementing measures at locations most susceptible
to space weather: Adopting standards, business practices, and operational
procedures that improve protection and resilience is essential to addressing
system vulnerabilities to space weather. The benchmark space-weather events
described in the first strategic goal (Establish Benchmarks for Space-Weather
Events) should be used to support the adoption of design standards for enhanced
resilience; evaluate strategies for, priorities for, and feasibility of
protecting critical assets; and foster mechanisms for sharing best practices
that promote mitigation and protection of systems affected by space weather.

 

(c) Strengthen public-private collaborations that support action to
reduce vulnerability to space weather: Private industries are essential to the
Nation’s resilience. They are the owners and operators of the majority of the
Nation’s critical infrastructure, and they play a vital role in research and
development to enhance understanding and improve mitigation. Space-weather
events do not respect national, jurisdictional, or corporate boundaries.
Incorporating resilience measures into U.S. infrastructure systems requires
public-private collaboration, support of existing coordinating mechanisms for information
sharing and access, and identification of incentives and disincentives for
investing in resilience measures.

 

4. Improve Assessment, Modeling,
and Prediction of Impacts on Critical Infrastructure

 

A key component of improving national preparedness for a space-weather
event is the ability to observe and predict associated effects. Providing
timely, actionable, and relevant decision-support services during a
space-weather event requires improvements in abilities to observe, assess,
model, and ultimately predict the effects of space-weather events on critical
national infrastructures such as electric power systems; transportation systems
(e.g., aviation, rail, and maritime); communications; and position, navigation,
and timing systems. The societal and health effects of space-weather events
must also be understood to inform the urgency of action during such events and
to encourage appropriate mitigation and protection measures before an incident.
Improving situational awareness and prediction of the effects on infrastructure
during a space-weather event requires better observations and better modeling
of system-response characteristics. The following objectives should be pursued
to enhance observation, modeling, and prediction capabilities:

 

(a) Assess the vulnerability of critical infrastructure systems to space
weather: To prepare for and enhance the security and resilience of critical
infrastructure systems to space-weather events, a thorough and systematic
understanding of the effects and vulnerabilities is necessary. This
understanding will inform preparedness approaches and planning and enable
validation of system-specific impact models.

 

(b) Develop a real-time infrastructure assessment and reporting
capability: Situational awareness of the state of various critical
infrastructure systems is crucial to providing actionable event response. This
capability will require continued investments in, and assessments of, the
real-time monitoring requirements for reporting the state of infrastructures,
as well as situational awareness of space weather.

 

(c) Develop or refine operational models that forecast the effects of
space weather on critical infrastructure: To ensure an appropriate and
effective response to space-weather events, it is not enough to only forecast
the magnitude of such events. It is also necessary to predict the effects of
such events on infrastructure and other systems on a regional basis. (Hurricane
storm-surge prediction is a terrestrial weather example of this objective.)
Effective prediction of the effects of space weather requires reliable,
accurate, and fast models that take into account effects on both isolated and
interdependent infrastructure systems. There is also a need to define and
develop comprehensive requirements for operational impact models, identify
deficiencies in current modeling capabilities, and develop new and improved
tools.

 

(d) Improve operational impact forecasting and communications: Based on
the assessment and modeling elements outlined above, a national capability to
forecast extreme space-weather effects before the onset of an event would
enable timely warnings to system operators and emergency managers. This
capability should always be available, with rapid computation and dissemination
mechanisms.

 

(e) Conduct research on the effects of space weather on industries,
operational environments, and infrastructure sectors: Improving existing models
and developing new capabilities in impact forecasting must be based on a better
understanding of the fundamental physical processes of the effects of space
weather on critical infrastructure systems. Doing so requires identifying gaps
in understanding of impacts on these systems; developing strategies to address
these gaps; identifying impact-related interdependencies through vulnerability
and failure mode-assessments across and between sectors; and supporting
research for understanding the cost to mitigate, respond to, and recover from
extreme space-weather events.

 

5. Improve Space-Weather Services
through Advancing Understanding and Forecasting

 

Space-weather services can enhance national preparedness by providing
timely, accurate, and relevant forecasting products. Identifying and sustaining
a baseline of fundamental measurements from observing platforms is key to
providing operational services that inform preparedness. This baseline can also
serve as a reference point from which to identify coverage and measurement
gaps, as well as opportunities for improvement. Services can be improved
through basic research and applied research that focus on the needs of an
increasingly diverse user community.

 

To facilitate the transition of these enhancements from the research
domain to operations, the responsible agencies will: (1) periodically
revalidate user requirements for improved space-weather services; and (2)
strengthen and encourage partnerships to accelerate the research-to-operations
transition process, with a goal to support key preparedness decisions. The
following objectives should be pursued to meet these goals:

 

(a) Improve understanding of user needs for space-weather forecasting to
establish lead-time and accuracy goals: Effective transfer of space-weather
knowledge requires a better understanding of the effects of space weather on
technology and on industry and government customers, including the associated
economic and political impacts on the Nation’s critical infrastructures.

 

(b) Ensure space-weather products are intelligible and actionable to
inform decision-making: Decision-relevant information must be communicated in
ways that stakeholders can fully understand and use. Models and forecasts will
be most useful when they enable swift decision-making with a reasonable
assumption of risk.

 

(c) Establish and sustain a baseline observational capability for
space-weather operations: The Nation lacks a comprehensive operational
space-weather observation strategy. Opportunities exist to improve the Nation’s
space-weather-prediction capabilities, which rely on an ad hoc mixture of
weather satellites, research satellites, and ground systems to provide data to
forecast centers. To ensure adequate and sustained real-time observations for
space-weather analysis, forecasting, and decision-support services, a baseline,
or minimally adequate, operational observation capability should be defined.
The observation baseline should also specify the optimal mix of ground-based
and satellite observations to enable continuous and timely space-weather watch,
warning, and alert products and services. The associated data reception, relay,
processing, assimilation, and archiving infrastructure required to utilize
space-weather observations must also be included in the baseline.

 

(d) Improve forecasting lead-time and accuracy: Society is increasingly
at risk from extreme space-weather events. With improved predictions, the
Nation can enhance mitigation, response, and recovery actions to safeguard
assets and maintain continuity of operations during high-impact space-weather
activity.

 

(e) Enhance fundamental understanding of space weather and its drivers
to develop and continually improve predictive models: Forecasting space weather
depends on a fundamental understanding of the space-environment processes that
give rise to hazardous events. It is particularly important to understand the
processes that link the sun to Earth. An improved understanding of space
weather and access to better data will help drive the necessary advances in
modeling capabilities and validation to support user needs.

 

(f) Improve effectiveness and timeliness of the process that transitions
research to operations: Although the Nation has invested in the development of
research infrastructure and predictive models to meet the demands of a growing
space-weather user community, existing modeling capabilities still fall short
of providing what is needed to meet these demands. Until better research models
targeted to operational needs are developed and ultimately incorporated into
operational forecasts, the Nation will not fully realize the benefits of its
research investments.

 

6. Increase International
Cooperation

 

In a world increasingly dependent on interconnected and interdependent
infrastructure, any disruption to these critical technologies could have
regional and even international consequences. Therefore, space weather should
be regarded as a global challenge requiring a coordinated global response.

 

Many countries are becoming increasingly aware of the need to monitor
and manage space-weather risks. The United States and other nations are sharing
observations and research, disseminating products and services, and
collaborating on real-time predictions to mitigate impacts on critical
technology and infrastructure. Countries around the world must work together to
foster global collaboration, taking advantage of mutual interests and capabilities
to improve situational awareness, predictions, and preparedness for extreme
space weather. The following objectives should be pursued to increase
international cooperation:

 

(a) Build international support and policies for acknowledging space
weather as a global challenge: A prerequisite to enhanced international
cooperation is high-level support across partner countries to raise awareness
of space weather as a global challenge.

 

(b) Increase engagement with the international community on observation infrastructure,
data sharing, numerical modeling, and scientific research: The Federal
Government should explore opportunities to work with the international
community to enhance research, observations, models, and forecasting tools that
are responsive to the needs of the global scientific community and the
providers and users of space-weather information services.

 

(c) Strengthen international coordination and cooperation on
space-weather products and services: Providing high-quality space-weather
products and services worldwide requires international consensus and
cooperation. Toward this end, the United States should seek international
agreement on common terminology, measurements, and scales of magnitude; promote
and coordinate sharing and dissemination of space-weather observations, model
outputs, and forecasts; and establish coordination procedures across
space-weather operations centers during events.

 

(d) Promote a collaborative international approach to preparedness for
extreme space-weather events: The world’s interconnected and interdependent
systems are vulnerable to extreme space-weather events; this vulnerability
could possibly lead to a cascade of impacts across borders and sectors. To
mitigate these risks, the United States should work with the international
community to facilitate the exchange of information and best practices to
strengthen global preparedness capacity for extreme space-weather events. The
United States should also foster the development of global mutual-aid
arrangements to facilitate response and recovery efforts, and should coordinate
international partnership activities to support space-weather preparedness and
response exercises.

 

Conclusion

 

Space-weather events pose a significant and complex risk to the Nation’s
infrastructure and have the potential to cause substantial economic and human
harm. This Strategy is the first step in addressing the myriad challenges
presented when managing and mitigating the risks posed by both extreme and
ordinary space weather. The six high-level goals and associated objectives
outlined in this Strategy support a collaborative and Federally-coordinated
approach to developing effective policies, practices, and procedures for
decreasing the Nation’s vulnerabilities associated with space weather. By establishing
goals for improvements in forecasting, research, preparedness, planning, and
domestic and international engagement, this Strategy will help ensure the
Nation’s resilience to the effects of extreme space-weather events.

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