Space Weather July 25, 2023

Space Weather

We asked 144 experts in space weather about the risks of geomagnetic storms and other key topics in their field.


  1. Over half of experts (51%) believed it is possible we could experience geomagnetic storms that are moderately or significantly larger than the largest storms over the past 200 years, including the 1859 Carrington Event.
  2. On average, participants thought there was a 33% chance that within the next 10 years a space weather event could cause unplanned regional power outages, although there was a very broad range of opinions.
  3. If an extreme geomagnetic storm occurred, operators at power companies would need advance notice to take appropriate action. 40% of participants thought that it was “highly unlikely” or “somewhat unlikely” that space weather forecasts would be “sufficiently accurate” for these end users to take effective action.
  4. To improve our forecasts, experts emphasized the need for investment in the near-sun heliosphere and near-earth heliosphere compared to other physical domains, with 47% of experts ranking one of those two domains as having the highest return on investment.
  1. Question 1

    If the Carrington event were to occur today without any warning, what do you think the impact would be? (Select as many as apply)


    survey 1 responses

  2. Question 2

    Cosmogenic isotope data – such as 14C and 10Be – suggest that significantly larger solar energetic particle events occurred in the last few thousand years than in the last few centuries, but it is not clear if this also translates to larger geomagnetic storms in the past. Does the nearly 200-year record of geomagnetic observations cover the likely range of impacts to the power distribution grid over the next 50 years?
    1. • Yes, the geomagnetic record covers the likely range of power grid impacts
    2. • No, but likely range is only slightly (10-50%) higher
    3. • No, the likely range is moderately (50 -100%) higher
    4. • No, the likely range is significantly (>100%) higher


    survey 2 responses

  3. Question 3

    Which factors most limit our ability to make accurate space weather forecasts with 1-day lead time? (Rank from most limiting to least limiting)


    survey 3 responses

  4. Question 4

    What is the biggest challenge to delivering actionable forecasts of an extreme (Carrington-scale) space weather event?


    survey 4 responses

  5. Question 5

    Assume that end users can take effective action for an extreme geomagnetic storm if given a sufficiently accurate forecast with 5 hours notice. Given current observation and modeling capability, what is the likelihood that forecasts will be sufficiently accurate by that time?


    survey 5 responses

  6. Question 6

    Given everything you are able to estimate about occurrence of extreme space weather and susceptibility of our technical infrastructure, what is the probability in the next 10 years that a space weather event will cause unplanned regional power outages?


    survey 6 responses