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From MSc to Contributing to UK Government Policy on Space Weather

13 April 2017

Rachel Ewer 

April 2017

Studying space weather at the Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction (IRDR) made it clear this field represents a key emerging risk for business sectors with employment prospects in policy, commercial operations, risk planning and business continuity. My dissertation on ‘The Impact of Space Weather on UK Business Continuity’ looked at the use of space weather forecasts by businesses to mitigate and manage potentially harmful impacts. Working with the UK Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre (MOSWOC) I researched a cross-section of their forecast client group; I then evaluated the impacts of space weather on business, the level of awareness in key vulnerable sectors including critical infrastructure, how business continuity plans addressed these potential impacts, and the mitigation measures in place. Where there were gaps in knowledge, I highlighted areas where improvements could be made and offered recommendations. 

Since completing my MSc in Risk, Disaster and Resilience I have been working as a project research officer in the UK Government Office of Science (GO-Science). This has enabled me to work on developing space weather policy through workshops with both scientists and industry. The work in which I have been involved has directly contributed to space weather briefings for the Risk and Resilience, Growth and Security team. These briefings essentially provide updates for Sir Mark Walport, the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser. 

During my time here at GO-Science, I have actively contributed to the Space Weather Working Group. I have been involved in developing content and drafting recommendations for the severe space weather ‘Effects on Aviation’ report. I have also assisted in delivering workshops in collaboration with the Met Office and the Business Energy and Industrial Strategy department (BEIS) as well as other industry experts. The workshops provided training and raised awareness around the impacts of space weather on marine, rail and road transport for government departments including the Department for Transport. As a GO-Science representative, I also fed back to our department on the L4/L5 workshop, a collaboration between NASA, ESA and the Met Office, focusing on improving space weather forecasting through satellite positioning. 

The knowledge, training and networking opportunities I received as part of my MSc at the IRDR really prepared me to work in this exciting and growing sector.


Rachel completed her MSc in Risk, Disaster and Resilience in 2016.