Thursday, March 8, 2012

What a "Solar Storm" means to you 
(Example story our team prepared in March 2012 on the largest solar flare in six years)

"Could jolt everything from GPS to airline travel and power grids"
-London's UK Daily Mail

10:20 AM EST 03/08/12 (Meteorologist Alex Davies / Forecaster Foot) Have you noticed any interruptions or problems with your GPS or satellite TV signal today? If so, it was affected by a significant Solar Storm, the largest in six years, which ejected from the Sun on Tuesday and begin arriving at Earth late Wednesday. The video above from the NOAA Visualization Laboratory shows how a Coronal Mass Ejection, known as a "Solar Flare" or "Solar Storm" departs the sun and impacts the Earth. Read more in this article.

See the storm yourself Monitor current data output and even see the Solar energy reaching Earth in this link.

Is this going to be a problem? "Space Weather" events such as this can have serious impacts on a wide aspects of society. This NOAA video describes how the Space Weather Prediction Center monitors these potentially disruptive events, which include: Space Weather Forecasters to monitor the data and impacts of these events, which include: 
  • Interrupting satellite communications, GPS devices, ground relay stations and cell phone service;
  • Disrupting or terminating power transmission across older inter-state electrical grid systems;
  • Diverting intercontinental air travel away from polar crossings  

This moderate-to-strong Solar Storm, the arrival of which was is evidenced in this data graph of a "Corona mass cloud" observed by the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, CO.  A storm of this type is not uncommon in the Earth's history as it is associated with normal solar cycles. NOAA's report on this event stated:
"Geomagnetic storms from these kinds of space weather events can affect the power grid, navigation systems and other technologies. NOAA provides space weather forecasting for the nation, and forecasters at NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center are issuing updates regularly. The impressive flare from Tuesday evening and a corresponding radiation storm are already triggering high-frequency radio outages at Earth's poles, which could last a day or more, and possible temporary outages on parts of the day-lit Earth."
You may not have heard of this phenomena before because over the past decade, the Sun's solar activity has been minimal in accordance with an 11 year solar cycle. However over roughly the next decade, the Sun is forecasted to be more active, as we approach a period of increase solar storms and increased electromagnetic discharge associated with the same 11 year cycle.

For more information about Climate and Space Weather, and what NOAA Scientists do to monitor these potentially disruptive events, please visit this overview page by the Space Weather Prediction Center. 

A Solar Flare Tuesday

12:50 PM EST 1/24/12 | Largest solar flare/coronal mass ejection since 2005 | The NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center has been tracking the most significant solar disruption in 7 years via the ACE (Advanced Composition Explorer) satellite. This 20-second video of the solar flare energy exiting the solar disk was recorded earlier today by NOAA. This link to the Helioviewer Project Blog, contains a Youtube video should be acceptable for viewing in a school under teacher discretion as education content.

You can also view the video at this Facebook page of the Space Weather Prediction Center. Special credit for alerting the Forecast Team to this event goes to Red Apple Post, a Washington, DC area media post-production company that produces epic video products for the Discovery Channel and many media outlets. They also happen to be big fan of Foot's Forecast (and Space Weather). Thanks Red Apple! 

The ACE mission, according the project website at CalTech, is to provide near-real-time 24/7 continuous coverage of solar wind parameters and solar energetic particle intensities (space weather). When reporting space weather, ACE provides an advance warning of about one hour of geomagnetic storms which can overload power grids, disrupt communications on Earth, and present a higher than normal radiation risk to airline travelers, as well as a hazard to human spaceflight.  Source:

(The U.S. Leadership Team of Foot's Forecast)

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