SUMMARY: The 2017 National Security Strategy calls for enhancing American resilience. One potential threat to national resilience is space weather, which can disrupt, degrade, or damage infrastructure and technology systems, including the electrical power grid and national security assets. In June 2018, the National Science & Technology Council released Space Weather Phase 1 Benchmarks that seek to provide input for engineering standards, vulnerability assessments and risk estimates, decision points and thresholds for action, effective mitigation procedures and practices, and response and recovery planning for space weather events. The National Space Weather Action Plan directs the fidelity of these benchmarks to be improved, where possible. This request for community input seeks information from the space weather community that can be used to refine the current benchmarks and identify gaps in understanding to inform the prioritization of future research.

DATES: Responses must be received by April 12, 2019.

ADDRESS: Please submit input by email to

INSTRUCTIONS: Respondents need not reply to all questions; however, they should clearly indicate the number of each question to which they are responding. Attachments no larger than 20 megabytes (MB) may be uploaded. Please include the author’s affiliation and contact information in case a follow-up is necessary.

Tom Colvin,

The National Space Weather Strategy (NSWS) identifies key goals to make the Nation more resilient to space weather events. One goal is to establish benchmarks that describe a set of physical characteristics and conditions—e.g., intensity and duration—against which a space-weather event can be measured. Such benchmarks provide a point of reference from which to improve understanding of the effects of space-weather events on the Nation. The Federal Government is developing these benchmarks in a phased approach. The Phase I Benchmarks, a quick-turn analysis using existing data sets and studies, were released by the National Science and Technology Council in June 2018.

The NSWS calls for benchmarks that estimate the characteristics of 1-in-100-year and theoretical maximum events for five phenomena: induced geo-electric fields, ionizing radiation, ionospheric disturbances, solar radio bursts, and upper atmosphere expansion. Many benchmark values in Phase 1 have significant uncertainties, including some cases where benchmark values were not achievable. Common sources of uncertainty stem from a lack of empirical data to validate models or predicted maxima falling far outside the range of empirically derived models. There is also uncertainty about how multiple, simultaneous space weather phenomena interact; they may constructively interfere to increase predicted maxima, or alternatively one event may rate limit another.

This request seeks input from the space weather community that will be used to improve the fidelity and utility of the space weather benchmarks and support development of a more refined and more rigorous Phase 2 Benchmarks study. This input may also be used to inform Federal research and development R&D priorities.

Respondents are encouraged to address the following questions:

  1. Induced geo-electric fields
    What are the current status and gaps for measuring and modeling space weather induced geo-electric fields? This may include (1) characterizing waveform and amplitude; (2) mapping fields; (3) understanding coastal effects; (4) developing theoretical maximums; and (5) improved understanding of historical events.

  2. Ionizing radiation
    What are the current status and gaps for measuring and modeling space weather enhanced ionizing radiation near Earth? This may include (1) characterizing enhancements to the radiation belts; (2) extremes of substorm electron flux values; and (3) identifying the most useful ion species, locations, and energy ranges to include in benchmarks values.

  3. Ionospheric disturbances
    What are the current status and gaps for measuring and modeling space weather induced ionospheric disturbances? This may include (1) modeling of the coupling between the magnetosphere, ionosphere, and thermosphere; (2) modeling of the effects of other space weather phenomena on the ionosphere; (3) quantifying the effects of ionospheric disturbances on trans-ionospheric radio signals; and (4) improving observational capabilities.

  4. Solar radio bursts
    What are the current status and gaps for measuring and modeling solar radio bursts? This may include (1) developing theoretical maximums; (2) identifying the most useful wavelengths and polarization to include in benchmarks values; and (3) improved understanding of historical events.

  5. Upper atmospheric expansion
    What are the current status and gaps for measuring and modeling upper atmospheric expansion? This may include (1) assessing the effect of ion density enhancements on total atmospheric density and satellite drag; (2) using physical models and statistical methods to assess the effect UV radiation on timescales greater than one day; (3) determining the effect of impulsive UV flares at various altitudes at the extrema of the solar cycle; and (4) developing theoretical maximums.

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