SEPRAD - Workshop


Space Weather Effects at Aviation Altitudes [Keynote]


Erwin O. Flückiger
Physikalisches Institut, University of Bern, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland


Space weather can influence the performance and reliability of airborne systems in many ways and may endanger life or health of air crew and passengers. During the last few decades the increase in both global air traffic and public awareness initiated a challenging activity to identify and quantify possible risks. Great efforts have been made towards a better understanding, modelling, and forecasting of space weather, and for the development of operational space weather systems.

The causes of space weather are natural perturbations of our near-Earth environment coming from the sun, from
space, and probably even from within our system Earth. After a short review of major causes the multitude of space weather effects at aircraft altitude and upon airborne systems is addressed. Main emphasis is laid to the particle radiation field and radiation dose due to galactic cosmic rays and to severe high-energy solar phenomena.

Based on selected examples, e.g. the solar energetic particle events on 20 January 2005 and on 13 December 2006, the potential of operational and projected space weather service procedures is reviewed. In this context recent findings about extreme events and their occurrence frequency are discussed.

The presentation concludes with an outlook on ongoing and future development in the field, based e.g. on current discussions within EURADOS WG 11.