Explosions in the sun’s outer atmosphere – tracked and forecast by NOAA scientists – can cause geomagnetic and solar radiation storms at Earth that can impede the operation of electrical power grids, interfere with the normal function of Global Positioning Systems and temporarily hamper radio and satellite telecommunications. Grid and satellite operators and airlines can take protective measures when stormy conditions are forecast.
An X-ray image of the Sun from August 5, captured by a NOAA satellite. Three successive coronal mass ejections - big blasts of plasma from the Sun - exploded from a bright region near far right (circled in additional image). Impacts on Earth were minimal: temporary high-frequency radio outages in a few regions, minor distortion of global positioning system signals and no known power outages or satellite damage. (Credit: NOAA)
“This advanced model has strengthened forecasters’ understanding of what happens in the 93 million miles between Earth and the sun following a solar disturbance,” said Tom Bogdan, director of NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo. “It will help power grid and communications technology managers know what to expect so they can protect infrastructure and the public.”
Magnetic storms can occur on Earth 1–4 days after a coronal mass ejection – a burst of charged particles and magnetic field that streams out from the sun at more than one million miles an hour. Before development of this model, forecasters could predict timing of such impacts within a 30-hour window, on average. The new model allows forecasters to narrow that window to 12 hours.
That improvement gives airline operators more reliable information about when to reroute flights to avoid communications blackouts from storms. Satellite operators can avoid changing orbit or orientation when space weather threatens. Oil drilling, mining and other operations that rely on global positioning systems – which can be made unreliable by space weather – can avoid conditions that might put operators at risk. Power companies can work to prevent problems.“The shorter prediction timeframe will enable the electric industry to better prepare for potential issues,” said Gerry Cauley, president and chief executive officer of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation. “The continued improvement of forecasting through innovation and modernization of the existing satellite infrastructure is vital to support the reliability of North America’s bulk electric system.”
Scientists with NOAA, NASA, the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Boston University, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and George Mason University collaborated to develop the model.
The model has been used in experimental mode for several months and has accurately forecast the timing of recent space weather events. NOAA began running the new model on its supercomputers officially on September 30. Recent model run results are available online.
NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo. is the nation’s official source of operational forecasts, warnings and alerts about space weather.
NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels.
Katy Human | EurekAlert!
New Insight into Molecular Processes
21.11.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Exoplanet stepping stones
21.11.2018 | W. M. Keck Observatory
Innsbruck quantum physicists have constructed a diode for magnetic fields and then tested it in the laboratory. The device, developed by the research groups led by the theorist Oriol Romero-Isart and the experimental physicist Gerhard Kirchmair, could open up a number of new applications.
Electric diodes are essential electronic components that conduct electricity in one direction but prevent conduction in the opposite one. They are found at the...
Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.
Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
19.11.2018 | Event News
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
21.11.2018 | Life Sciences
21.11.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
21.11.2018 | Life Sciences