Space weather is a set of phenomena that arise when space events (mainly on the sun) generate adverse environmental conditions for technologies operating in space, the earth’s atmosphere and on the earth’s surface. These conditions have the potential to disrupt many of the technologies that are critical to the functioning of modern societies.
A 15-month project running between November 2013 and February 2015 was commissioned by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and supported by Sciencewise. It sought to explore public perceptions and understanding of space weather and the perceived risks and mitigations, as well as how to communicate the nature of these risks with the wider public.
The project involved three public engagement processes. Public dialogue workshops were held in Wrexham, Edinburgh and Reading, with a total of 54 public participants. This was followed by an additional workshop that brought together 18 participants from across all three locations. To support this dialogue a Space Weather public dialogue website was launched and an online survey was conducted with 1,010 respondents.
The process was delivered by 3KQ and was independently evaluated by Icaro.
The findings helped STFC to develop recommendations to facilitate action from government and members of the space weather community. Additionally, the findings were presented as evidence to the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee’s inquiry into the resilience of the electricity system.