Innovative space weather monitoring projects receive UKRI funding

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has announced the funded projects for the first phase of the SWIMMR (Space Weather Instrumentation, Measurement, Modelling and Risk) programme.

SWIMMR is a £20 million, four-year programme led by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) with the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) that will improve the UK’s capabilities for space weather monitoring and prediction. There will be an emphasis on space radiation, which can affect aircraft systems, changes in the upper atmosphere, affecting communications and satellite orbits, and surges in current in power grids and other ground-level systems. These are significant risks to the infrastructures we rely on in daily life and are recorded in the UK’s National Risk Register.

The five projects, together worth close to £9 million and funded by NERC which is part of UKRI, are focused on improving the UK’s capability to predict and mitigate the hazards of space weather by incorporating new research to further develop the space weather models used by the Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre.

Improving the accuracy of predicting when and where space weather events take place should allow the Met Office to issue warnings and advice sooner, allowing operators more time to take necessary action, such as manoeuvring satellites and isolating parts of the power network to ensure the least amount of disruption possible.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said:

“Satellites are fundamental to our everyday lives, underpinning technologies we constantly rely on from mobile phones to GPS. Any disruptions caused by space weather can therefore have a profound impact on businesses and individuals.

“These fantastic projects that we are backing today will enhance the UK’s ability to forecast space we2ather, enabling our excellent national weather service to defend the technologies we all depend on.

Duncan Wingham, Executive Chair of the Natural Environment Research Council, said:

‘SWIMMR is great example of NERC working with the Science and Technology Facilities Council and other partners to support world-leading environmental research, and the funding will maximise the impact and uptake of an essential forecasting service relied upon by Government and businesses. These exciting projects will further our understanding and confirm the UK’s reputation as an international leader in this field.”

Simon Machin, Space Weather Programme Manager at the Met Office, said:

“‘We are very excited by the prospect of working with the crème of UK science and academia on the SWIMMR projects. SWIMMR will deliver a step change in UK space weather monitoring, warning and prediction capability by supporting pull-through of cutting-edge science into operational services. This will enable the Met Office to provide a greater range of more accurate services driven by the needs of users and underpins the UK’s strategic aims to grow and exploit opportunities in the space domain.

“SWIMMR communicates a clear vision of cementing the UK as a world leader in space weather and our thanks go out to all partners and stakeholders for supporting this programme of work.”

The SWIMMR funding programme forms part of the Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF), delivered by the UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) to drive an increase in high quality multi- and interdisciplinary research and innovation.

Contact

For media enquiries please email press@ukri.org or Sophie Docker, 07513 485076, 

Notes to Editors:

The funded projects are:

SWIMMR Theme

Project Title

Lead organisation

Partners

Grant reference

N1 Satellite risk forecasts

Satellite Radiation Risk Forecasts (Sat-Risk)

NERC British Antarctic Survey

University of Sheffield

University College London

University of Reading

Imperial College London

NE/V00249X/1

N2 Aviation risk forecasts

SWIMMR Aviation Risk Modelling (SWARM)

University of Surrey

NERC British Geological Survey

University College London

University of Central Lancashire

NE/V002899/1

N3 GNSS and HF aviation forecasts

Space Weather Instrumentation, Measurement, Modelling and Risk: Ionosphere (SWIMMR-I)

University of Birmingham

University of Bath

University of Leicester

Lancaster University

University of Leeds

NE/V002643/1

N4 Ground effects forecasts

SWIMMR Activities in Ground Effects (SAGE)

NERC British Geological Survey

NERC British Antarctic Survey

University College London

Imperial College London

NE/V002694/1

N5 Satellite drag forecasts

Space Weather Instrumentation, Measurement, Modelling and Risk: Thermosphere (SWIMMR-T)

University of Birmingham

University of Southampton

NERC British Antarctic Survey

Lancaster University

NE/V002708/1

Details of other SWIMMR calls currently open can be found on the STFC website. The funding forms part of the Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF), delivered by the UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) to drive an increase in high quality multi- and interdisciplinary research and innovation. The programme is a collaboration led by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) with NERC and supported by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Department for Transport and the Ministry of Defence. The programme has been designed in close association with the Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre (MOSWOC).

Further information on the SWIMMR programme.

About UK Research and Innovation

UK Research and Innovation works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. We aim to maximise the contribution of each of our component parts, working individually and collectively. We work with our many partners to benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas.

Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £7 billion, UK Research and Innovation brings together the seven research councils, Innovate UK and Research England.

About the Natural Environment Research Council

NERC is the UK’s main agency for funding and managing research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. Our work covers the full range of atmospheric, Earth, biological, terrestrial and aquatic science, from the deep oceans to the upper atmosphere and from the poles to the equator. We coordinate some of the world’s most exciting research projects, tackling major environmental issues such as climate change, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on Earth, and much more. NERC is part of UK Research & Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.

Share this
Posted in Wildfeed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *