Hazard Space Weather

A solar storm photo by NASA
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Geoscience Australia’s Community Safety team supports Australia’s ability to manage the impact of space weather and helps inform decisions about risk.

We contribute to each stage of the emergency management cycle to help improve preparedness, response and recovery with our focus on contributing towards community safety.

Solar flare by NASA

Our role

We maintain a network of geomagnetic observatories in the Australian and Australian Antarctic region which forms part of a global observatory network.

The network monitors changes in the Earth's magnetic field due to geophysical processes beneath the Earth's surface and activity in the upper atmosphere, and the Earth-Sun space environment.

Our magnetic field and geomagnetically-induced current modelling are used for navigation, magnetic direction finding, resource exploration and to mitigate against potential hazards generated by magnetic storms. Geoscience Australia also promotes public safety through the provision of compass and magnetometer calibration services.

During magnetic storms huge electric currents flow in Earth's ionosphere. They may cause inaccuracies in compass readings, radio broadcasts to be received in areas far from where they were intended and auroras to be seen at latitudes much nearer the equator than usual.

Our research into crustal conductivity and associated geo-electric hazard contributes to assist the power distribution industry to better understand the impact of geomagnetic activity on electrical distribution networks.

To help understand what could be at threat, we provide exposure information about buildings, demographics, community infrastructure and agricultural commodities.

We also provide around the clock access to data about people, property and infrastructure potentially exposed during an event. Our information aids in providing an understanding of the situation to targeted preparedness, response and recovery efforts.

Our products, tools and data provide a better understanding of geomagnetic hazard vulnerabilities  to plan, prepare and reduce exposure to natural hazards improving preparedness now and into the future.

Emerging capabilities

We engage with different sectors to provide assessments and address new challenges as they emerge.

  • We are expanding our geomagnetic monitoring capabilities to establish baseline measurements and to better predict geomagnetically induced currents, that will enable us to produce more reliable space weather hazard assessments across Australia.

  • Our Researchers are committed to growing our knowledge base to prepare for challenges of the future.

  • We have a strong attendance at conferences and events to maintain awareness of the challenges faced by the community safety sector and keep up to date with latest science.

  • Our open-source data is accessed by developers interested in solving operational challenges of reducing vulnerability and exposure to hazards.

Image of the Margarete River region which is an area identified as having higher than average geomagnetic qualities

Case study Analysing historic geomagnetic data to identify space weather hazards

How historic data recorded by Geoscience Australia’s geomagnetic observatories is influencing Australian electricity infrastructure decision making.

Head shot of Liejun Wang

Australian magnetic-field monitoring is providing an invaluable dataset for safeguarding Australian infrastructure and industry.

Liejun Wang

Senior Geomagnetic Scientist at Geoscience Australia