Space Weather

Space weather risk overview

Space weather can cause extended power outages for more than 100 million people in the U.S. or other regions globally, and result in trillion dollar economic losses. Scientists and industry experts at AER are evaluating the impact of solar events on numerous sectors including aerospace, satellite design and operations, re/insurance, utilities, energy, supply chain, national security, and the global economy.

Frequency and severity

  • Space weather is caused by various types of solar activity, including solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs).
  • Each small event increases the vulnerability of our infrastructure. So even though severe and large-impact events are uncommon, the cumulative effect of numerous smaller events can impair or disable the electronics and physical equipment in electricity, communications and navigation infrastructure.

AER expertise and contributions in space weather

Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) scientists provide expert R&D and operational decision-support tools and consulting services to government and industry. We enable deeper understanding of the risks and expertise in risk mitigation, resilience, and adaptation. Highlights include:

  • Over 30 years of space environment experience.
  • Our scientists have been publishing peer-reviewed analysis of space weather impacts for fifteen years. Learn more in AER's peer-reviewed research library.
  • AER managed the Space Weather Industry Initiative, a collaborative Emerging Risk research program assessing the likelihood and potential severity of space weather impacts on power, communications and other infrastructure.
  • Contributed to the U.S. Air Force AF-GEOSpace software (modeling / data product) for over a decade. This tool is widely used in spacecraft development and sensor specification definition.
  • AER’s SEET software (Space Environment Effects Tool) provides comprehensive modeling of the space environment for mission planners, satellite designers and mission operators interested in understanding space weather’s impact on a satellite and its electronic systems. The SEET software assists in planning for the effects of radiation, damaging meteorites or space debris, local magnetic field, and heavy ion fluxes and their associated Single Event Upsets (SEUs).
  • AER's Space Weather Index, or Disturbance Storm Time (Dst) Index, analyzes the strength and duration of geomagnetic storms.

More information: to learn more about AER’s space weather capabilities, please contact us.


Solar Storm Risk to the North Am. Electric Grid
—By Lloyds and AER scientists Nicole Homeier and Lisa Wei. In Lloyds Space Weather Study, May 22, 2013.

Outer space forecasters race to track huge solar storms
—By Nicole Homeier, on ABC's WCVB-TV Channel 5, May 23, 2012

The Effects of Space Weather on the Insurance Industry
—By Kyle Beatty, in Verisk Review, April 12, 2012

Stormy Space Weather on the Rise
—By Nicole Homeier, March 6, 2012

Risk Management & Space Weather: Are You Ready?
—By Nicole Homeier, James Martin Griffin, and Kyle Beatty, in National Underwriter Property and Casualty, Sept. 6, 2011.

An early warning of the risks of space weather
—By James Martin Griffin, AER Staff Scientist, in Perspectives from America, March 28, 2011.