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 continues to subside following the CME (coronal mass ejection) which arrived on the 01 December. Limited aurora may potentially be visible across the far north of Scotland at first on Saturday night where skies are clear. However geomagnetic activity expected to continue to decline to background levels with little change then expected until Monday night of the 04-05 Dec. Aurora then expected to become visible across Scotland and perhaps the far north of Northern England and Northern Ireland again as a coronal hole high speed stream enhancement arrives and potentially also a glancing blow of a CME, although confidence currently low regarding CME details

Southern Hemisphere

The notable coronal mass ejection (CME) expected at Earth during Friday (01 Dec) has arrived in line with expectations. Geomagnetic and auroral activity has likely already peaked, but subsiding effects should still result in enhanced aurora viewing during the southern hemisphere night. Further G1/Minor to G2/Moderate storms are expected into early 02 Dec (UTC timezone), but likely easing to Active or Unsettled geomagnetic activity with time. Views should become increasingly restricted to more southerly latitudes but with views affected by the more limited hours of darkness.

Geomagnetic activity is expected to continue to subside through 02 Dec as the auroral oval returns to background levels. Little change is then expected, until 04-05 Dec when aurora may become visible across the far south of New Zealand and perhaps Tasmania as a fast solar wind arrives.

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Forecast overview

Space Weather Forecast Headline: Quiet to unsettled conditions for the rest of Day 1 (2 Dec) and through Day 2 (3 Dec), increasing from day 3 (4 Dec). Chance of M-Class flares (R1-R2 Blackouts).

Analysis of Space Weather Activity over past 24 hours

Solar Activity: Solar activity is at Moderate levels with the largest flare of the previous 24 hours a Moderate fare at 012120 UTC from a large region in the southwest disk. There are currently seven sunspot regions on the visible disc. A complex region in the SW remains the largest and most significant region, however has shown recent signs of stabilisation and was responsible for the aforementioned moderate flare. The remaining regions on the visible disc are all relatively simple.

There are a large number of filaments on the Earth-facing disc. A filament lift off in the SE disk was observed around 01/1400 UTC, the resulting CME is not expected to be Earth directed. A CME signature was observed in association with the most recent M1.0 flare from AR3500, after initial analysis this currently looks to pass ahead of earths orbit on Day 4 (05th November), although is under re-analysis for possible risk of a glancing blow. Other CME signatures in coronagraph imagery during the past 24 hours are considered far-sided and thus not Earth-directed.

Solar Wind / Geomagnetic Activity: Solar wind speeds began the period around 500-560 km/s (Elevated), associated with the arrival of the CME earlier on the 01 Dec, levels persisted at Elevated until around 02/0200UTC when they dropped to Slightly elevated levels, which they are currently at around 470 km/s.

The Interplanetary Magnetic Field (IMF) was Weak initially strong. Following the arrival of the second CME the CME arrival and remaining at strong levels until around 02/0400 UTC when it slowly reduced to moderate. The important north-south component of the IMF was strongly positive at first  before easing to weakly or moderately negative until around 0200UTC, where it slowly turned weakly positive as the IMF underwent slow rotation at L1 within the magnetic cloud, finishing moderately positive y the end of the period. Phi angle was largely negative throughout (towards the Sun).

Resultant Geomagnetic activity was initially G3/Strong Storm (Kp7) levels during 01/0900-1200 UTC, with further G1-G2 Minor to Moderate Storm (Kp5-Kp6) intervals recorded 01/1200-1500, 1800-2100, 2100-2400 and 0000-0300, before falling to Quiet from 0600-0900.

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

Four-Day Space Weather Forecast Summary

Solar Activity:  Low to Moderate with a chance of further isolated M-flares (R1-R2 Blackout), and a very slight chance of an isolated X-class flare (R3 Blackout). AR3500 in the southwest disc is most likely to be the source of any significant flares. 

Solar Winds / Geomagnetic Activity: Geomagnetic activity and solar winds should slowly wane during the rest of Day 1 (02 Dec) as current CME influence begins to ease. Activity expected to be generally Quiet to Unsettled into day 2 (02 Dec) as winds likely return to background levels, remaining so until the arrival of the HSS Day 3 (04 Nov)  associated with the large CH76/- approaching the meridian. The onset of the HSS should see winds reach Elevated to Strong levels and geomagnetic activity increase to Active to G1-G2/Minor-Moderate Storm (Kp 4-6) levels for a time. Although currently considered unlikely, the possible risk of a glancing blow of the CME from the 01 December may give a further risk of G1-G2/Minor-Moderate Storm (Kp4-6) on Day 4 (05 Dec).

Aurora: Current activity maintaining a chance of visible aurora for parts of the UK into the early part of day 1 (02 Dec). Views of the aurora as far south as Northern England and Northern Ireland are possible, with a greater chance further north where skies are clear. Further aurora activity possible into the evening of day 3 (04 Dec) with the expected arrival of faster solar winds. 

Energetic Particles / Solar Radiation: The count rate of energetic particles (high energy protons) is expected to stay at background. However, any significant flares from the moderately large region in the southwest will bring a chance of flux levels increasing, with a slight chance of approaching or perhaps exceeding the S1 Minor Radiation Storm level. 

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Solar imagery


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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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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