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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 14, issue 10 | Copyright
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 14, 2749-2759, 2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 10 Oct 2014

Research article | 10 Oct 2014

How severe space weather can disrupt global supply chains

H. Schulte in den Bäumen1, D. Moran2, M. Lenzen1, I. Cairns1, and A. Steenge3 H. Schulte in den Bäumen et al.
  • 1School of Physics A28, University of Sydney, Sydney NSW 2006, Australia
  • 2Programme for Industrial Ecology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), 7013 Trondheim, Norway
  • 3The University of Groningen, Faculty of Economics and Business, 9700 AB Groningen, the Netherlands

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.

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