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International coordination is in progress, but more is required. For aviation, space weather is a global issue that requires a global response

Space Weather experts SolarMetrics today called upon the international community to coordinate efforts to understand the impact of the space radiation environment and solar storms on aviation and people.

Speaking at the inaugural Electric Infrastructure Security World Summit (EISS) in London, Captain Bryn Jones, Astrophysicist, commercial airline pilot and CEO of SolarMetrics, explained that whilst it is understood that solar activity can be harmful to technology and humans, more needs to be done to understand the vulnerabilities from severe events and their longer term influences.

In June 2010, NASA warned that parts of the globe could face widespread power blackouts and be left without critical communication signals for long periods of time, after Earth is hit by a once-in-a-generation “super storm”.

“People in governments and other organisations are taking this threat very seriously,” explains Captain Jones. “However, there are many space weather impacts which we need to know more about. Even unremarkable solar storms can impact global operations and safety, knocking out navigation satellites and reducing capabilities.

“Severe solar storms could curtail or shutdown operations completely, which could obviously have disastrous consequences. Technology and Infrastructure is becoming more susceptible because of the increasing use of computer-controlled, smaller electronics.

Captain Jones adds: “Work has been and is being done in this area, however it is clear that we need a more concerted and coordinated effort with government, industry and regulators to understand the problems. Space weather already impacts current global operations and safety; airspace capacity is reduced, decisions are reactionary with a loss of situational awareness, and the economic and societal impacts are significant.”

“There should be more robust standards for the protection of aircraft electronics against storm upsets, and our industry should carry out risk modeling so that mitigation strategies can be put in place. Without this approach, the economic and societal impacts could be catastrophic.

“International coordination is in progress, but more is required. For aviation, space weather is a global issue that requires a global response.”

Ends

Editors notes

SolarMetrics press office: 01483 811234

About EISS-London

EISS-London is the First Annual World Summit on Infrastructure Security, the inaugural event in a new international infrastructure security coordination process. The first summit is taking place in the Grand Committee Room of Westminster Hall, UK Parliament, London.

The Summit brought together senior government representatives and scientists from Europe, the U.S. and other regions to review results of new research on EMP and severe solar flare infrastructure risks and protection options.

About SolarMetrics

SolarMetrics is a team of experts dedicated to helping people, businesses and organizations around the world understand Space Weather and the implications of potentially harmful effects of Cosmic Radiation.

We use advanced predictive technology to calculate atmospheric radiation levels by correlating Space Weather measurements with actual aircraft position data, producing results of unprecedented precision.

The SolarMetrics team comprises PhD solar, Space Weather and Cosmic Radiation physicists with globally recognised expertise in radiation detectors.

Since forming, the company has since widened its understanding and expertise to focus on a broad range of Space Weather related aviation services for a diverse set of clients including private individuals, corporations, the insurance industry and terrestrial weather vendors.

Our long term vision is to create a completely integrated set of space weather services specifically for the aerospace industry.
About Captain Bryn Jones

Captain Bryn Jones is Chief Executive Officer of SolarMetrics Limited, and a Captain in Virgin Atlantic Airways. He joined the Royal Air Force in 1981, and subsequently joined Virgin Atlantic Airways, becoming a Captain in 2001.

In 1999, Captain Jones became responsible for Virgin Atlantic’s compliance with the European Union Directive on aircrew exposure to cosmic radiation, and initiated Virgin Atlantic’s involvement in the U.K. Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) project to measure and assess cosmic radiation onboard aircraft during the last Solar Maximum (2000-2004). His work on this collaborative research effort included working with the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and the Mullard Space ScienceLaboratory (MSSL) of University College London. During this period, Bryn was also invited to join the UK Cosmic Radiation Advisory Group, advising Government and UK airlines on cosmic radiation exposure during air travel.

Following these projects, Captain Jones expanded his study of space weather hazards to aviation, carrying out project work for the European Space Agency. In 2003 he co-founded SolarMetrics, a U.K. based company that specializes in analysis of space weather, space radiation and solar activity impacts on operations, safety, people, the environment and civil and military aerospace technology, with clients including ESA, FAA, IATA, NASA, NATO, and international airline and aerospace companies.

Captain Bryn Jones’ projects in these fields include the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer radiation environmental monitoring project, the SpaceShipOne Ansari X-Prizeflights and NASA Johnson’s Space Radiation Advisory Group’s “All Clear Workshop”. His most recent work has focused on international policy and requirements for integrating space weather observations and forecasts into global aviation operations.

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