President Obama issues an Executive Order to protect critical infrastructure from space weather events

Published: Tuesday, 18 October 2016 08:06

President Obama has issued a new Executive Order ‘Coordinating Efforts to Prepare the Nation for Space Weather Events,’ which aims to help prepare US critical infrastructure from the impacts of severe space weather.

“Space weather events, in the form of solar flares, solar energetic particles, and geomagnetic disturbances, occur regularly, some with measurable effects on critical infrastructure systems and technologies, such as the Global Positioning System (GPS), satellite operations and communication, aviation, and the electrical power grid. Extreme space weather events - those that could significantly degrade critical infrastructure - could disable large portions of the electrical power grid, resulting in cascading failures that would affect key services such as water supply, healthcare, and transportation. Space weather has the potential to simultaneously affect and disrupt health and safety across entire continents. Successfully preparing for space weather events is an all-of-nation endeavor that requires partnerships across governments, emergency managers, academia, the media, the insurance industry, non-profits, and the private sector,” states the Executive Order.

The order defines agency roles and responsibilities and directs agencies to take specific actions to prepare the US for the hazardous effects of space weather.

Amongst other required actions, it gives the Secretary of Energy, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, 120 days to develop a plan to test and evaluate available devices that mitigate the effects of geomagnetic disturbances on the electrical power grid.

Read the Executive Order.