Space Weather and Environment: Science, Policy and Communication

Space Weather and Environment: Science, Policy and Communication (SWEN) is a five course, 15-credit-hour graduate certificate program for clientele that includes broadcast meteorologists and other weather-casters, emergency responders, military personnel, federal and state policy advisors, legislative assistants, science journalists, and any professional whose career may be enhanced with a greater understanding of this subject area. Guided by the National Space Policy of the United States of America, this program will be an avenue for professional development and advancement for those seeking to deepen and broaden their knowledge-base and understanding of the Earth-Sun-Space environment as well as the impact space weather can have on infrastructure, communication and commerce.

Why Study this program?

If you are responsible for communication and power grids, transportation systems, navigation systems including space-based assets, commerce, and other infrastructure, this program is for you. Additionally, this program will assist individuals to be better prepared to communicate these issues to policy-makers, stakeholders and the public. The international scope of the SWEN will help prepare individuals for positions in the government, private, commercial and academic sectors. The program should be especially interesting for broadcast meteorologists who are seeking to gain knowledge and proficiency in space weather to better communicate to their market audience.

What Will You Learn?

Those who have completed the SWEN program will possess the ability to:

  • Demonstrate base knowledge of natural or environmental hazards, including space weather hazards and associated risks;
  • Describe solar and space weather phenomena, including but not limited to: aurora, coronal holes, coronal mass ejections (CME), solar flares, sunspots, solar cycle, geomagnetic storms, characteristics of the magnetosphere, and behavior of the interaction between different elements;
  • Relate impacts of space weather phenomena to existing and emerging fields, including the variety of customers and operations most vulnerable;
  • Organize existing protocols and design new protocols for preparing and responding to space weather events;
  • Describe and apply the products, data and graphics to communicate for specific space weather events; and
  • Develop new video products that will communicate space weather to specific audiences – a capstone experience.
  • Curriculum/Required Courses
    EMGT 614 Natural Hazards Primer
    Natural Science examination of natural or environmental hazards and their associated risks, the overview will include hazards such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and space weather. Offered Winter and Summer Semesters. Fully online, distance-learning format.

    SWEN 671 The Origins of Space Weather
    Course Description: Phenomenological approach to understanding the origins of space weather and the space environment from the Sun to the Earth’s surface including a detailed treatment of coronal holes, coronal mass ejections, sunspots, solar flares, solar energetic particle events, solar radio bursts, solar structure including its magnetic dynamo, solar wind, terrestrial magnetic field, geomagnetic storms. Offered annually. Fully online, distance-learning format.

    SWEN 672 Impacts of Space Weather on the Technological World
    Systems approach to understanding how space weather impacts the near-earth space environment, our magnetosphere, upper atmosphere, and the myriad of ways it couples into the Earth system, detrimentally affecting space and ground-based technologies. Instruction will include the identification and impact of solar radio bursts, geomagnetic storms, geomagnetically induced currents (GICs), aurora, and radiation storms on our technological infrastructure. This infrastructure includes satellite services and communications, GNSS/GPS global positioning and navigation, emergency services, radio communications, airline transportation, national electric utility services and power grids, as well as emerging industries such as unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV aka drone) delivery systems, space tourism, asteroid mining, robotic and human employment in hostile space weather environments. The course will go into the varying severity of impacts from mild inconveniences to the possibility of a Carrington-class event that could cause a massive geomagnetic storm that could destroy national power grids world-wide and cause irreparable damage to the global economy. Prerequisite: SWEN 671. Offered annually. Fully online, distance-learning format.

    SWEN 673 Effective Decision-Support for Space Weather Risks
    Space weather data, products and information is a vital component for effective decision-making process for relevant stakeholders. This course uses a case-studies approach to identify and document the most effective means of producing and delivering space-weather information including alerts, warnings and notifications to target audiences and the general public, and to ensure that space-weather products are used intelligibly to inform decision making. Prerequisites: SWEC 672. Offered annually. Fully online, distance-learning format. 

    SWEN 674 Space Weather Broadcast and Communications
    Examines existing space weather data, images and products. These products will be important in learning how to create a space weather broadcast. Video projects pertaining to specific space weather events such as solar flares, geomagnetic storming, radiation storms, etc., will be important to demonstrate knowledge of which products to use for communicating a forecast. How to utilize resources, integrated space weather analysis system, solar dynamics observatory and others, will be stressed. Pre-requisite: SWEN 672. Offered annually. Fully online, distance-learning format.
  • Career Opportunities
    • Broadcast meteorologists
    • Science communicators
    • Science policy advisors
    • Emergency responders
    • Earth and space science teachers
    • Airline meteorologists/forecasters
    • Commercial space services
    • Military contractors
    • Station scientists
    • Legislative assistants
    • Space weather enthusiasts
    • Short-wave radio operators
    • Electrical power grid supervisors
    • Oil and natural gas pipeline supervisors
  • Clubs and Organizations
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