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

The auroral oval may be enhanced later Saturday 24 Feb into Sunday 25 Feb due to the potential for a glancing blow from a Coronal Mass Ejection and the likely connection with a coronal hole fast wind. This gives a chance of seeing the aurora in the north of Scotland and similar geomagnetic latitudes under favourable viewing conditions. Conditions easing to background levels thereafter.

Southern Hemisphere

The auroral oval may be enhanced later Saturday 24 Feb into Sunday 25 Feb due to the potential for a glancing blow from a Coronal Mass Ejection and the likely connection with a coronal hole fast wind. Auroral displays are only likely to be seen at higher geomagnetic latitudes. Conditions easing to background levels thereafter.

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Forecast overview

Space Weather Forecast Headline: Moderate flares expected with a chance of Strong flares and slight chance of associated solar radiation storms. Chance of G1/Minor geomagnetic storm mainly on day 2 (25 Feb).

Analysis of Space Weather Activity over past 24 hours

Solar Activity: High activity with seven Moderate flares observed (all producing R1 Radio Blackouts), from the large spot in the north-centre disc, which was the source of three Strong flares on 21-22 Feb. There are five numbered spots, however this region remains the largest on the disc, by far. Despite its size and activity, the complexity of the region remains relatively limited compared to what would typically be expected. However, growth of an intermediate spot has resulted in this joining up with the opposite polarity leader spot, leading to some complexity developing, while further opposite magnetic polarity spots are also evident on the periphery of the large leader spot. The other regions are much smaller and simpler, with no significant growth observed. 

There were no Earth directed coronal mass ejections (CMEs) observed.

Solar Wind / Geomagnetic Activity: Solar winds have been at background 300-350 km/s. Total Interplanetary Magnetic field (IMF) strength was weak, with the north-south component showing periods of weak positive (northward) field and weak negative (southward) field. Geomagnetic activity was Quiet (Kp 0-2).

Energetic Particles / Solar Radiation: The count rate of energetic particles (high energy protons) was very slightly above background due to the lingering effects of the previous enhancements that started on 09 Feb. However this remained well below the S1 Minor Solar Radiation Storm level.

Four-Day Space Weather Forecast Summary

Solar Activity: Activity is forecast to remain Moderate to High, with occasional Moderate class flares expected and a chance of further isolated X-class flares from the large sunspot in the north-centre disc.

Solar Wind / Geomagnetic Activity: CME from 21 Feb may giving a glancing impact later on day 1 or early day 2 (24-25 Feb). Background solar winds are likely to become enhanced day 2, from the onset of the fast winds from a coronal hole, before peaking into day 3 (25-26 Feb). These fast winds easing day 4 (27 Feb). Quiet activity at first becoming Unsettled to Active with a chance of G1 Minor Storms from any coronal hole fast wind onset, or any CME glance that occurs. These most likely day 2 (25 Feb), if any combined arrival occurs. Quiet to Unsettled activity returning day 4 (27 Feb).

Energetic Particles / Solar Radiation: The count rate of energetic particles (high energy protons) is forecast to continue easing towards background, but with a chance of becoming re-enhanced due to any significant flares from the large sunspot on the disc. This risk increasing slightly from day 2 (25 Feb) as the region moves into the western hemisphere, giving a chance of  S1 Minor Radiation storms, and a very slight chance of strong storms occurring.

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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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