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NOAA National Weather Service

Space Weather Impacts: GPS

GPS has changed society. Multiple applications: oil drilling, aviation, precision agriculture, surveying, military operations, emergency response, recreational, and so much more depend on the continuous availability of this vital satellite navigation system. These critical applications rely not only on navigational services provided by GPS, but high accuracy timing as well. Space weather storms can interfere with the high accuracy and availability of GPS leading to erroneous information or even complete loss of GPS capabilities. NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center provides critical information on potential interference to GPS applications to end-users around the world.

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Space Weather Impacts: Communications

Effective communication can mean the difference between life and death. There are many different types of technology that contribute to various forms of communication. Some of these technologies can experience significant degradation due to space weather storms. End-users, such as the aviation and emergency response communities can encounter significant impacts on the critical communication assets they depend on. NOAA space weather forecasters provide alerts and warnings to ensure key situational awareness when systems are being impacted, and help operators determine alternatives during space weather disturbances.

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Space Weather Impacts: Power

Eruptions on the Sun lead to disturbances on Earth’s magnetic field, known as geomagnetic storms. These geomagnetic storms can create electrical currents that can result in significant impacts on our electric power grid. Impacts can include damage to critical grid assets and even blackout. NOAA space weather forecasters provide critical early warning of these geomagnetic storms, allowing grid operators to take measures to ensure no disruption of the power supply.

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Introduction to Space Weather and Space Weather Prediction Center

We rely on advanced technology for almost everything we do today. Satellite communications, GPS applications, and the electric power grid provide the backbone to our Nation’s economic vitality and national security. This technology however, is vulnerable to a threat from space — our Sun. Eruptions from the Sun can have a profound impact on society. In Boulder, Colorado NOAA space weather forecasters maintain a constant vigil on the Sun, alerting a diverse customer base when storms are imminent. Operators from many sectors will take mitigating actions to protect the critical infrastructure that we have come to depend on.

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