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LSGI PhD student’s research on impacts of space weather on aviation industry is published by the Nature Reviews Earth & Environment

6 Nov 2023


LSGI PhD student’s research is published by the Nature Reviews Earth & Environment

We are pleased to share with you that the research work on the impacts of space weather on aviation industry, conducted by PhD student Mr. Dabin Xue at the Department of Land Surveying & Geo-Informatics (LSGI), the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), was recently selected to be highlighted by the Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, a journal published by the Springer Nature with an Impact Factor of 42.1.

The research paper “Examining the Economic Costs of the 2003 Halloween Storm Effects on the Northern Hemisphere Aviation Using Flight Data in 2019", co-authored by Mr. Dabin Xue, his supervisors Dr. George Zhizhao Liu at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Dr. Jian Yang at the Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen, and Dr. Shiwei Yu (a former graduate from Dr. Liu's Lab), was recently published at the AGU journal "Space Weather" in March 2023. It claims to be the world's first one to quantify the potential economic impacts of space weather on aviation operation, which is an interdisciplinary study involved with Space Physics including Ionosphere and Cosmic Radiation, GNSS Satellite Navigation, and Air Traffic Management as well as Operation Research.

Space weather events, closely related to the 11-year cycle solar activities, can disruptively affect the aviation operations on the Earth in various aspects such as high-frequency communication blackouts, GNSS-based navigation and surveillance failures, and increased levels of cosmic radiation. These disruptions pose great potential risks to flight safety and security and result in flight delays and even flight cancellations. The consequential economic loss can amount to tens of millions of euros.

Based on the space weather impact data from the severe solar storm event 2003 Halloween Storm in the Solar Cycle 23 and the flight data in 2019, this research from an operational perspective assessed the impact of a space weather event similar to the 2003 Halloween Storm on the aviation flights in 2019 when the current 11-year Solar Cycle 25 just began. New air traffic management strategies have also been proposed to mitigate the effects of these disruptions. This study can be a benchmark for evaluating and alleviating the potential effects of future space weather on aviation operations.

More information about this Research Highlight can be found at Nature Reviews Earth & Environment. The original paper can be found at Space Weather.

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