The United Kingdom's meteorological department will join small group of countries to forecast space weather, warning businesses of solar flares that could interrupt telecommunication services.
The Met Office, the UK's national weather service, will use a £4.6 million investment from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills to help protect national infrastructure that could be affected by these changes. Severe solar flares, space storms and solar winds are known to disrupt satellites, GPS, power grids and radio communications.
The round-the-clock forecasting will keep businesses and government informed of possible space weather changes in enough time to ensure telecommunication services are not affected.
"The sun is in constant flux, and the possibly damaging impact of this solar activity is growing as people become more reliant on satellite technology," said Universities and Science Minister David Willetts.
The project will include a partnership with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's national weather service to share knowledge and expertise in space weather predictions.
"A round the clock UK forecasting service for space weather is essential as part of National Grid's procedures for running the electricity transmission network securely and safely," said Andrew Richards, an analyst for National Grid, a company that owns electricity transmission systems in England and Wales.
[UK Met Office]