Congress needs to finalize space weather bill as solar storm increases danger

The COVID-19 epidemic has left us more dependent than ever on advanced information and communication technologies, with many businesses and schools relying on the range of remote services. In this environment, creating resilience to potential threats, which can disrupt the essential daily activities of society, is important.

For this reason, Congress is happy to advance legislation to better protect the country from millions of tons of charged solar storms. Such space weather events can distort GPS signals, scramble satellite operations, and disable communications and power systems with dire consequences for our economy and armed services – the Pentagon for future space-based conflicts Being prepared is a particularly prominent concern.

Important weather events of space occur every decade or so with far-reaching and disastrous results. A powerful solar storm cut power to millions of Canadians in 1989, and major storms in 2003 affected more than half of the spacecraft orbiting the Earth. Only three years ago, solar flares caused radio blackouts for hours during critical emergency response efforts for hurricanes in the Caribbean and surrounding areas.

A solar superstar poses an even greater risk. The so-called Carrington event in 1859, which ignited a fire in telegraph offices, would have catastrophic effects on today’s society, possibly causing widespread damage to the power grid, communications networks, and other technologies that would take weeks, months, or even years. . repair or reinstall. Even before COVID-19 led to increased reliance on e-based technologies, the National Academy of Sciences estimated that such an event could result in $ 2 trillion in damages – or 10 of Hurricane Katrina’s costs. Over the fold.

Despite the increasing array of advanced satellites monitoring the sun, forecasters cannot accurately predict when a major storm will rise from the sun and begin a journey of one to four days toward the Earth. The observations provide only limited information as to where the storm will hit and the Earth is likely to cause damage within about half an hour. This does not leave satellite operators and utility managers with enough notice to fully cull weak electronics and critical hardware.

To improve its forecasting capacity, the nation needs to invest in new generation of space- and ground-based devices that can provide continuous measurement of magnetic fields throughout the solar atmosphere. These measurements will alert us to conditions that are favorable for hurricanes and help us determine whether an incoming storm will enter our atmosphere and target certain areas on Earth, or monitor harmlessly.

Scientists are also working towards more advanced computer models of the Sun. Their primary goal is to encourage the creation of energy in twisted magnetic fields within the solar atmosphere, enabling forecasters to predict when the field will burst and ton the charged particles toward the Earth.

Fortunately, Congress is beginning to take action on this important issue. The Senate last month unanimously passed legislation to improve scientific understanding and forecasting of space weather. Breaking barriers between nation’s researchers and forecasters in forecasting the Promotion Research and Observation of Space Weather to Forecasting (PROSWIFT) Act, coordinating the efforts of major federal agencies, and establishing an Integrated strategy in the federal government to meet space weather research and observational requirements.

This law is, appropriately, bipartisan support. Sens. Gary petersGary Charles Petersonet panel to vote on Biden, Obama-era authorized sub-hills next week to vote on Hilkin Valley: Russia raises concerns about mail-in voting to undermine election. Facebook and Twitter took steps to limit Trump’s remarks on voting. Top Democrats press Trump to approve Russian individuals in 2020 election intervention efforts to block political ads before Facebook election (D-millisec.) And Corey GardnerCorey Scott GardnerTrump prohibits Florida voters from offshore drilling. Democrats have pushed the White House to remove the head of public lands. McConnell tries to unify the GOP and more (R-Colo.) Co-sponsored the Senate bill. In the House of Representatives, Delegate. Ed perlematorEdwin (ed) George Perlmovernightknight Power: 20 states sue the Trump regime, which limits states that block pipeline projects. The House Democrats added a ‘forever chemicals’ provision to the defense bill after major amendments lawmakers have called for an extension for tribes to spend incentives. Democrats add some ‘chemicals forever’ provisions to defense bill after major amendments. For security and economic reform, Congress should prioritize cannabis banking (D-Colo.) Is working with eight co-sponsors on both sides of the aisle to pursue the measure.

With a few months remaining on the current Congressional calendar, the House would have to provide the final passage of this important legislation.

Currently our solar forecasting capability is comparable to terrestrial weather prediction before the Second World War when warnings of hurricanes arriving in communities were low. Since then, government agencies, private companies, and university researchers have collaborated on historical advances in weather forecasting, which have saved countless lives, spurred economic development, and supported military operations.

Now we have come to a defining moment to forecast solar storms. At a time when society is more dependent than ever on advanced e-based technologies, the PROSWIFT Act has given the government, private sector and academics a clear road map to forecast these harmful events. If Congress and the administration successfully legislate, this predictive capability will provide an important safeguard for America’s economic competitiveness and national security, and for the business and school technologies we all have come to rely on.

Antonio J. Bussalachi is the president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a nonprofit association of 120 colleges and universities focused on research and training in Earth System Sciences.