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RE: Space Weather Forecasting
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NASA will hold a Science Update at 1 p.m. EDT, Tuesday, April 14, to present new findings and three-dimensional views revealing the inner workings of solar storms known as coronal mass ejections.

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A team of astronomers from Northern Ireland are using a powerful telescope in one of the Canary Islands to help them understand space weather and predict its effect on the earth's climate.
Gazing through the clear skies above the Atlantic Ocean, they are able to study solar flares - events on the sun's surface that release enormous amounts of energy, equivalent to a billion megatons of TNT, and over 10 billion times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima during the Second World War.
The sun's intertwining magnetic fields build up tremendous amounts of energy. Just like continually twisting a rubber band, energy is stored until the field lines eventually break, causing a solar flare.

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Extreme Space Weather
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A NASA-funded study describes how extreme solar eruptions could have severe consequences for communications, power grids and other technology on Earth.
The National Academy of Sciences in Washington conducted the study. The resulting report provides some of the first clear economic data that effectively quantifies today's risk of extreme conditions in space driven by magnetic activity on the sun and disturbances in the near-Earth environment. Instances of extreme space weather are rare and are categorised with other natural hazards that have a low frequency but high consequences.

"Obviously, the sun is Earth's life blood. To mitigate possible public safety issues, it is vital that we better understand extreme space weather events caused by the sun's activity" - Richard Fisher, director of the Heliophysics division at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

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Severe Space Weather Events--Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts
Workshop Report

The adverse effects of extreme space weather on modern technology--power grid outages, high-frequency communication blackouts, spacecraft anomalies--are well known and well documented, and the physical processes underlying space weather are also generally well understood. Less well documented and understood, however, are the potential economic and societal impacts of the disruption of critical technological systems by severe space weather.
As a first step toward determining the socio-economic impacts of extreme space weather events and addressing the questions of space weather risk assessment and management, a public workshop was held in May 2008. The workshop brought together representatives of industry, the government, and academia to consider both direct and collateral effects of severe space weather events, the current state of the space weather services infrastructure in the United States, the needs of users of space weather data and services, and the ramifications of future technological developments for contemporary society's vulnerability to space weather. The workshop concluded with a discussion of un- or underexplored topics that would yield the greatest benefits in space weather risk management.


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We live in the extended atmosphere of an active star. While sunlight enables and sustains life, the Sun's variability produces streams of high energy particles and radiation that can harm life or alter its evolution.
Under the protective shield of a magnetic field and atmosphere, the Earth is an island in the Universe where life has developed and flourished. The origins and fate of life on Earth are intimately connected to the way the Earth responds to the Sun's variations.
Understanding the Sun, Heliosphere, and Planetary Environments as a single connected system is the goal of the Science Mission Directorate's Heliophysics Research Program. In addition to solar processes, our domain of study includes the interaction of solar plasma and radiation with Earth, the other planets, and the Galaxy. By analysing the connections between the Sun, solar wind, planetary space environments, and our place in the Galaxy, we are uncovering the fundamental physical processes that occur throughout the Universe. Understanding the connections between the Sun and its planets will allow us to predict the impacts of solar variability on humans, technological systems, and even the presence of life itself.


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IPS observed and predicted Solar Indices for Cycle 24

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Next April, for a grand total of 8 minutes, NASA astronomers are going to glimpse a secret layer of the sun.
Researchers call it "the transition region." It is a place in the sun's atmosphere, about 5000 km above the stellar surface, where magnetic fields overwhelm the pressure of matter and seize control of the sun's gases. It's where solar flares explode, where coronal mass ejections begin their journey to Earth, where the solar wind is mysteriously accelerated to a million mph.
It is, in short, the birthplace of space weather.

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You probably havent heard much of Solar Cycle 24, the current cycle that our sun has entered, and I hope you dont. If Solar Cycle 24 becomes a household term, your lifestyle could be taking a dramatic turn for the worse. That of your children and their children could fare worse still, say some scientists, because Solar Cycle 24 could mark a time of profound long-term change in the climate.

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Although many would groan at the thought of power outages and horrible reception, astrophysicists and physicists at UC Davis are excited because it means the chance to observe the beginning of another solar cycle.
The first sign of Solar Cycle 24 appeared on Jan. 4, as a reversed-polarity sunspot on the sun. It marks the end of the solar minimum of Solar Cycle 23.

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Solar flares
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Observations of solar flares by spacecraft at Mars, Venus and the Earth show that eruptions on the far side of the Sun may affect our space weather back on Earth.
In December 2006, a series of solar flares produced in a single active region were observed from three different points, each approximately 120 degrees apart. The results of these observations are now presented at the European Planetary Sciences Congress, Potsdam, on Thursday 23rd August by a team of scientists from the Swedish Institute of Space Physics.
Although solar flares and solar energetic particles (SEP) have been reported many times based on Earth-orbiting satellites or other planetary spacecraft, this time scientists achieved simultaneous plasma observations using instruments aboard Mars Express, Venus Express , the SOHO solar orbiter and a GOES environmental satellite, which is in geostationary orbit around the Earth.

These observations indicate that flare activities on the far side of the Sun may affect terrestrial space weather as a result of travelling more than 90° in both azimuthal directions in the heliosphere - Dr Yoshifumi Futaana, one of the investigators in this study.

Another important consequence of the analysis of SEP events is the insight they can provide into the process of planetary atmospheric evolution. During the December 2006 event, Mars Express observed an enhancement of ion (oxygen) outflow flux from the Martian atmosphere. This is the first observation of this kind and suggests that the solar extreme ultraviolet flux levels significantly affect the atmospheric loss from unmagnetised planets.

This is of interest for planetary scientists because the ion outflow should play an important role on the evolution of planetary atmosphere if the flux is integrated over a geological time scale (billions of years) - Dr Yoshifumi Futaana.

This violent solar flare event also gives us a hint to solve a mystery of missing water on Mars. Mars is believed to have possessed a large amount of water approximately 3.5-4.0 billion years ago. However, no one knows where the water has gone now. One plausible idea is that the water has escaped to space, in the evolution of the planets atmosphere. One of the main scientific aims of Mars Express is to measure exactly how much of this water has been lost to space.

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ESAs SOHO has helped uncover radio screams that foretell dangerous Coronal Mass Ejections, or CMEs, which produce radiation storms harming infrastructure on ground, in space as well as humans in space.
Scientists made the connection by analysing observations of CMEs from ESA/NASAs SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) and NASAs Wind spacecraft. The team includes researchers from Goddard, the Catholic University of America, Washington, the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, and the Observatory of Paris.
A CME is a solar slam to our high-tech civilization. It begins when the sun launches a thousand million tons of electrically conducting gas (plasma) into space at millions of kilometres per hour.
A CME cloud is laced with magnetic fields and when directed our way, smashes into Earth's magnetic field. If the magnetic fields have the correct orientation, they dump energy into Earth's magnetic field, causing magnetic storms. These storms can cause widespread blackouts by overloading power line equipment with extra electric current.

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 Astrophysicists find fractal image of Suns Storm Season imprinted on Solar Wind
Plasma astrophysicists at the University of Warwick have found that key information about the Suns 'storm season is being broadcast across the solar system in a fractal snapshot imprinted in the solar wind. This research opens up new ways of looking at both space weather and the unstable behaviour that affects the operation of fusion powered power plants.
Fractals, mathematical shapes that retain a complex but similar patterns at different magnifications, are frequently found in nature from snowflakes to trees and coastlines. Now Plasma Astrophysicists in the University of Warwicks Centre for Fusion, Space and Astrophysics have devised a new method to detect the same patterns in the solar wind.
The researchers, led by Professor Sandra Chapman, have also been able to directly tie these fractal patterns to the Suns storm season. The Sun goes through a solar cycle roughly 11 years long. The researchers found the fractal patterns in the solar wind occur when the Sun was at the peak of this cycle when the solar corona was at its most active, stormy and complex sunspot activity, solar flares etc. When the corona was quieter no fractal patterns were found in the solar wind only general turbulence.
This means that fractal signature is coming from the complex magnetic field of the sun.
This new information will help astrophysicists understand how the solar corona heats the solar wind and the nature of the turbulence of the Solar Wind with its implications for cosmic ray flux and space weather.

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