Space Weather

Space Weather

Space weather describes changing environmental conditions in near-Earth space. Magnetic fields, radiation, particles and matter, which have been ejected from the Sun, can interact with the Earth’s upper atmosphere and surrounding magnetic field to produce a  variety of effects.

Image courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams

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Aurora forecasts

Northern Hemisphere

Geomagnetic activity is likely to remain near background levels at first, perhaps with a slight increase due to coronal hole fast winds on the 1st February. Aurora is unlikely through the next couple of days, and will be largely confined to higher latitudes if it does occur through the 1st.

Southern Hemisphere

Geomagnetic activity is likely to remain near background levels at first, perhaps with a slight increase due to coronal hole fast winds on the 1st February. Aurora is unlikely through the next couple of days, and will be largely confined to higher latitudes if it does occur through the 1st.

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Forecast overview

Space Weather Forecast Headline: Slight chance of R1/R2 Radio Blackouts. Slight chance of Minor Geomagnetic Storm Days 2-3 (31 Jan-01 Feb).

Analysis of Space Weather Activity over past 24 hours

Solar Activity: Solar activity has been Low with isolated Common-class flares, the largest of these peaking at 29/0012 UTC, associated with a filament eruption (arc of plasma) near the northeast limb. There are currently six sunspot regions on the visible disc, all of which appear small, weak and magnetically simple. One of these is a new region emerging around the southeast limb, but currently appears small and simple.

A large filament was seen lifting off the southwest quadrant at 29/2100 UTC, although no Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) has been observed at present. No Earth-directed Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) were seen in available imagery. 

Solar Wind / Geomagnetic Activity: The solar wind shows that Earth is in a coronal hole fast wind. Wind speed was mostly elevated to slightly elevated, varying between 520-470 km/s. The total Interplanetary Magnetic Field was weak, with the north-south component also varying weakly. Geomagnetic Activity was Quiet (Kp 0-2).

Energetic Particles / Solar Radiation: The count rate of energetic particles (high energy protons) persisted at background levels with no solar radiation storms. 

Four-Day Space Weather Forecast Summary

Solar Activity: Solar activity is expected to be predominantly Low, with a slight chance of isolated Moderate-class flares. 

Solar Wind / Geomagnetic Activity: No Earth-directed CMEs are expected during this period. Earth is currently experiencing a coronal hole fast wind which is just starting to wane. Wind speeds are expected to slowly decline through the next couple of days, likely to slow levels. A further pair of coronal holes are likely to bring an increase in wind speeds later in the period. The timing of this is somewhat uncertain at present, but the most likely arrival time is considered to be sometime during Day 3 (01 Feb), with low confidence.

Geomagnetic activity is expected to be Quiet to Unsettled (Kp 0-3) for much of the period. Either on Day 2 or 3 (31 Jan-01 Feb), activity is likely to increase slightly with a chance of Active (Kp 4) intervals, and a slight chance of isolated G1/Minor Storm (Kp 5) intervals when the fast wind arrives. The effects of the fast wind may persist into Day 4 (02 Feb), before starting to wane. 

Energetic Particles / Solar Radiation: The count rate of energetic particles (high energy protons) is currently expected to remain at background levels with no solar radiation storms.

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Solar imagery

SDO AIA-193

This channel highlights the outer atmosphere of the Sun - called the corona - as well as hot flare plasma. Hot active regions, solar flares, and coronal mass ejections will appear bright here. The dark areas - called coronal holes - are places where very little radiation is emitted, yet are the main source of solar wind particles.

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SDO AIA-304

This channel is especially good at showing areas where cooler dense plumes of plasma (filaments and prominences) are located above the visible surface of the Sun. Many of these features either can't be seen or appear as dark lines in the other channels. The bright areas show places where the plasma has a high density.

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