NOAA has signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with other federal agencies to encourage and support collaboration among agencies to advance the nation’s space weather research and operations capabilities.
The event was hosted in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. This agreement comes at a time when we are approaching what is reportedly already proving to be an active Solar Cycle 25.
According to NOAA, the absence of a formal interagency process for the transition of space weather research-to-operations and operations-to-research has been long recognized as a critical gap in evolving the USA’s ability to improve space weather forecasts and warnings. The agreement provides a structure through which NOAA, NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of the Air Force (DAF) are expected to coordinate and collaborate on space weather research-to-operations-to-research. This includes working together to transition capabilities such as models, observations, forecast applications, techniques and technology – from research into operations. It also means providing and acknowledging feedback and sharing of operational data and information on space weather impacts on infrastructure.
The need for a framework was identified by the White House Space Weather Operations, Research, and Mitigation Subcommittee. It was identified as a critical gap in the nation’s ability to improve space weather forecasts and warnings to support NOAA’s important federal space activities and the rapidly expanding commercial space economy. To close the gap, the Promoting Research and Observations of Space Weather to Improve the Forecasting of Tomorrow (PROSWIFT) Act directs federal agencies to develop formal mechanisms to transition space weather research models and capabilities to operations.
NOAA’s Office of Space Weather Observations develops and deploys advanced operational satellite systems that monitor space weather and safeguard society. The Space Weather Follow On is a NOAA environmental satellite program that collects space weather measurements to predict and minimize space weather impacts here on Earth.
NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center safeguards society with actionable space weather information. It is the official civilian source for space weather forecasts, watches, warnings, alerts and impacts. Its forecasts inform electric grid operators, satellite operators, airlines and others about potential impacts of space weather so they can take action to protect infrastructure and the public.
“Having this interagency agreement will lead to actions to improve space weather forecasts and predictions,” said Ken Graham, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service, who signed the MOA. “We have a shared goal and that is to enhance our nation’s space weather preparedness and that can only happen through better coordination and expanding on existing efforts to improve space weather observations, research and modeling.”
Stephen Volz, assistant administrator for NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service, commented, “Strengthening collaborations and coordination across the federal government in transitioning space weather research to operations is critical for minimizing and mitigating the potential consequences of space weather events, and for supporting the growing commercial space enterprise.”
For more key space weather updates from the meteorological technology industry, click here.