Working Meeting - Space weather communication and dialogue across Europe

L. Green, M. Hapgood, M. Bisi
Tuesday, 24th 15:00 - 16:30, Mercator

The scientific understanding of space weather and the assessment of, and response to, space-weather impacts on modern critical infrastructures is a multidisciplinary effort requiring dialogue between a variety of stakeholders (scientists, engineers, infrastructure operators, policy makers, general public). However, each stakeholder has their own interests/concerns/motivations which makes communicating effectively a challenge.

This working meeting will look at best practice in space weather communication and dialogue. The international nature of space weather means that European Space Weather Week is a natural venue to hold such a session - we need both national and European dialogues (and also global dialogue) to ensure we make best use of our common resources to protect ourselves and to be fully prepared. In this session we will address the question, how do we best communicate across Europe to ensure success in this effort?

Some of the communication challenge stems from severe space weather being a low probability-high consequence risk. Many stakeholders find it difficult to adjust their view of risks from short-term (a few years) practical experience to a rare but dangerous event such as the space weather storms of 1859 and 1921. In addition there are significant challenges in communicating the uncertainties inherent in forecasting all levels of space weather. Some stakeholders may seek a clear black-and-white message inconsistent with responsible forecasting. Thus, dialogue is needed to reconcile these views. That dialogue must also seek an understanding of the level of risk that different stakeholders find acceptable and hence of what risk levels will justify funding of space weather research, mitigation, monitoring and forecasting.

To focus the discussion, this session may include:

- use of past experience and/or case studies to understand how to better convey the science and impact of space weather.
- practical advice on how to best communicate with different stakeholders
- how to help stakeholders understand space weather risk?
- what the public opinion of space weather is (e.g. Space Weather Public Dialogue project run in the UK)
- how to communicate with the media.

Asking questions like, how do we raise media awareness of our increasing vulnerability to space weather without creating panic and misunderstanding? Ultimate outcomes of such a session should be a better appreciation of the diverse range of stakeholders and how to effectively communicate, leading to more decisive policy, a more informed and engaged public and a more joined-up and effective response to the impact of space weather.

Possible invited speakers include: - Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency - UK Met Office - the EU Joint Research Centre - ROB - ...