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Space Weather Policy Issues
What is Space Weather?
"Space weather" refers to conditions on the sun and in the solar wind, magnetosphere, ionosphere, and thermosphere that can influence the performance and reliability of space-borne and ground-based technological systems and can endanger human life or health. Solar and geomagnetic events can impact many different sectors that affect our daily lives--navigation, satellites, communications, pipelines, electric power systems, and human health in space and flight.
What are Space Weather Policy Issues?
Our society is becoming more dependent on activities and technology that are affected by conditions in the space environment. In large part, these dependencies have not been anticipated, and in some cases, are substantial. At the same time, emerging science and new technologies have created new opportunities for monitoring the space environment and predicting periods of hazard. As a result, several U.S. government agencies developed the National Space Weather Program (NSWP) in 1996. The overarching goal of the NSWP is to achieve an active, synergistic, interagency system to provide timely, accurate, and reliable space environment observations, specifications, and forecasts within the next 10 years.
Consider these examples:
The science and technology of space weather are developing rapidly. However, the policy implications have not thoroughly been assessed. For example,
Currently, little policy framework exists tailored to aid the decisions of either the government or private enterprise in this area. It is important that the scientific community is prepared to fully participate in the challenging opportunities that lie ahead, including communicating to policy makers, making sound public policy decisions, and communicating science to the public.
Current Activities within the AMS
As the field of space weather progresses, it appears to have many commonalties with the meteorological field. Both fields consist of research (ground-based and satellite observations, models) and operations (forecasting models, services and products). Additionally, both fields consist of relationships involving multiple federal agencies, the private sector, and the international community. Already, the space weather field is involved in similar policy issues that the meteorological field continues to face. Therefore the space weather community may choose to look at the meteorological field for guidelines in developing prosperous partnerships.
Space Weather activites within the AMS have been growing rapidly. The AMS Policy Program has conducetd several policy studies targeted at understanding the impacts on the aviation and satellite navigation industries. In addition to the Conference on Space Weather held during the AMS Annual Meetings, the AMS has released a policy statement on space weather and created a STAC committee on space weather.