Articles | Volume 14, issue 10
Research article
10 Oct 2014
Research article |  | 10 Oct 2014

How severe space weather can disrupt global supply chains

H. Schulte in den Bäumen, D. Moran, M. Lenzen, I. Cairns, and A. Steenge

Abstract. Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) strong enough to create electromagnetic effects at latitudes below the auroral oval are frequent events that could soon have substantial impacts on electrical grids. Modern society's heavy reliance on these domestic and international networks increases our susceptibility to such a severe space-weather event. Using a new high-resolution model of the global economy, we simulate the economic impact of strong CMEs for three different planetary orientations. We account for the economic impacts within the countries directly affected, as well as the post-disaster economic shock in partner economies linked by international trade. For a 1989 Quebec-like event, the global economic impacts would range from USD 2.4 to 3.4 trillion over a year. Of this total economic shock, about 50% would be felt in countries outside the zone of direct impact, leading to a loss in global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 3.9 to 5.6%. The global economic damage is of the same order as wars, extreme financial crisis and estimated for future climate change.

Final-revised paper