Risk Analysis

A Framework to Understand Extreme Space Weather Event Probability

Journal Article


An extreme space weather event has the potential to disrupt or damage infrastructure systems and technologies that many societies rely on for economic and social well‐being. Space weather events occur regularly, but extreme events are less frequent, with a small number of historical examples over the last 160 years. During the past decade, published works have (1) examined the physical characteristics of the extreme historical events and (2) discussed the probability or return rate of select extreme geomagnetic disturbances, including the 1859 Carrington event. Here we present initial findings on a unified framework approach to visualize space weather event probability, using a Bayesian model average, in the context of historical extreme events. We present disturbance storm time (Dst) probability (a proxy for geomagnetic disturbance intensity) across multiple return periods and discuss parameters of interest to policymakers and planners in the context of past extreme space weather events. We discuss the current state of these analyses, their utility to policymakers and planners, the current limitations when compared to other hazards, and several gaps that need to be filled to enhance space weather risk assessments.

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