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Geomagnetic disturbances (GMDs) occur when the Earth is subjected to changes in the energized particle streams emitted by the Sun.  Extremely large GMD events can impact the operation of the electric grid, including electrical and electronic equipment and systems (e.g., high-frequency radio communications, global navigation satellite systems, long-haul telecommunications/internet exchange carrier lines, and electric power transmission).

Due to the potential for significant and adverse consequences of space weather on the Nation (not just the electric grid), the National Science and Technology Council within the Executive Branch formed the interagency Space Weather Operations, Research, and Mitigation (SWORM) Working Group to enhance national preparedness for space weather impacts. SWORM developed a National Space Weather Strategy and accompanying National Space Weather Action Plan that laid out specific actions the task force could take to enhance the nation’s resilience against severe space weather events (the strategy and plan have updated as of March 2019). 

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) developed the DOE Geomagnetic Disturbance Monitoring Approach and Implementation Strategies Report as directed by the Action Plan. In accordance with the directive, this report seeks to define requirements, understand vulnerabilities, increase situational awareness, and provide recommendations related to developing national and regional grid monitoring systems. The report fulfills deliverables 4.2.1 and 4.2.2 of the Action Plan has been provided directly to the SWORM Working Group.

This is a technical document intended to be used as a reference and guidance resource for energy industry engineers and system operators. It should be noted that the report was developed in coordination with Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and through review by various interagency and electricity sector partners from industry.