First space weather forecast centre opens in Britain

The first space weather forecast centre opened Wednesday in Exeter, southwestern England.

London: The first space weather forecast centre opened Wednesday in Exeter, southwestern England.

With a funding of 4.6 million pounds ($7.4 million) from the British government, the Met Office Space Weather Centre in Devon also houses the Met Office's headquarters, Xinhua reported.

It will provide space weather forecasts and develop an early warning system aimed at protecting critical infrastructure from the impacts of space weather.

"The Met Office Space Weather Centre is a clear demonstration of how the UK is a world leader in space weather. Not only will it help us to guard against the impact of space weather, but its capabilities will mean benefits for British businesses like those in the space industry and the wider economy," Greg Clark, Britain's minister of university, science and cities, said.

The centre is the culmination of more than three years of work drawing on the collective resources and expertise of Britain and the US.

"Space weather is an all encompassing term covering the near-earth impact of solar flares, geomagnetic storms and coronal mass ejections from the sun. The impact these have on earth is becoming ever more important as we become more reliant on technology," said Mark Gibbs, Met Office Space Weather business manager.

Space weather has been identified as one of the most important risks listed on Britain's national risk register. It could cause power grid outages, global positioning system disruption, high frequency radio communications outages, satellite damage and increase radiation threat at high altitude. 

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