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NOAA Space Environment Center Space Weather Activities. Bill Murtagh NOAA Space Environment Center Boulder, Colorado. European Space Weather Week ESTEC November 18, 2005. Overview. SEC in the National Weather Service Primary SEC Objectives Research/models to Operations

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NOAA Space Environment Center

Space Weather Activities

Bill Murtagh

NOAA Space Environment Center

Boulder, Colorado

European Space Weather Week


November 18, 2005



  • SEC in the National Weather Service
  • Primary SEC Objectives
    • Research/models to Operations
    • Operational Solar Wind Monitor
    • Operational Coronagraph
  • Aviation Support

SEC Joins National Weather Service (NWS) as one of the official National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP).

  • NCEPs include:
          • National Hurricane Center
          • Severe Storm Center
          • Space Environment Center
          • …more
  • SEC joined NOAA’s NWS on 2005 January 9. NWS responsibility now extends from “Sea to Sun.”
    • There are NWS processes which affect SEC and the issuance of new products
  • American Meteorological Society (AMS) has welcomed space weather into its fold
    • Third Special Symposium on Space Weather in Jan 2006

09 Sep 2005: NWS Director, D.L. Johnson, briefed space weather conditions to NOAA Chief of Staff (Scott Rayder), who in turn briefed the General Counsel (Stan Sokul) of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the White House.

Space Weather is now included in the daily and weekly NWS reports to NOAA and DOC leadership

Space Weather UpdateNOAA sunspot group 808 stayed very active this week and produced several significant solar flares (up to R3 on the NOAA Scale). The strong (S3) radiation storm that started Sep 8 ended on Sep 11. Moderate to strong (up to G3) geomagnetic storm conditions were observed from Sep 12-15. During this period, aurora was visible as far south as Colorado and Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal.



Nuclear Reg Comm






Digital Globe






Space Command

ISS Astronauts



United Airlines



  • A few of the agencies and industries that rely on space weather services today:
  • U.S. power grid infrastructure
  • Commercial airline industry
  • Dep. of Transportation ( GPS)
  • NASA human space flight activities
  • Satellite launch and operations
  • DoD Operations

Commercial Space


Airline Polar Flights

Microchip technology

Precision Guided Munitions

Cell phones

Atomic Clock

Satellite Operations

Carbon Dating experiments

GPS Navigation

Ozone Measurements

Aircraft Radiation Hazard

Commercial TV Relays

Communications Satellite Orientation

Spacecraft Charging

Satellite Reconnaissance & Remote

Sensing Instrument Damage

Geophysical Exploration.

Pipeline Operations

Anti-Submarine Detection

Satellite Power Arrays

Power Distribution

Long-Range Telephone Systems

Radiation Hazards to Astronauts

Interplanetary Satellite experiments

VLF Navigation Systems (OMEGA, LORAN)

Over the Horizon Radar

Solar-Terres. Research & Applic. Satellites

Research & Operations Requirements

Satellite Orbit Prediction

Solar Balloon & Rocket experiments

Ionospheric Rocket experiments

Short-wave Radio Propagation

Growth of Space Weather


NOAA Space



Sunspot Cycles


Principal SEC Goals through 2012

  • Transition research understandings and models to operations
    • There is new emphasis in NOAA on research-to-operations transitions; joining NWS has allowed us to ask for additional manpower to implement model transitions.
  • Establish an operational solar wind monitoring program
    • SEC has requested again that NOAA step up to this requirement; the decision is not yet made; however, steps in the right direction are in motion.
  • Fly a space-based coronagraph dedicated to operations
    • SEC has requested again that NOAA step up to this requirement; as yet, the decision is not positive, but again, efforts are in motion.

NOAA’s Space Weather Program FY2008

Program Baseline Assessment

Space Weather Program constraint #1

– Regional space weather forecasts and the transition of models and related research into operations

The need- Customers operating on continental and sub-continental scales are demanding regional specification and forecasts of space weather.

The Response - NASA, NSF, and DOD have expended tens of millions of dollars to develop models of the local and regional reaction of the space environment to forcing inputs from the Sun; many of these models are now mature and ready for transition to operations.

The Problem - NOAA’s Space Environment Center (SEC) has been unable to fund transitions of these critical models. Lack of resources constrains NOAA’s ability to deliver what customers want.


Status of NOAA’s efforts to get an operational solar wind monitor

  • NOAA management have agreed that we need a solar wind monitor.
  • Broad Area Announcement (BAA) issued in July 2005 for proposals.
  • - Three of these proposals were selected
  • in September 2005 and will be funded for a more detailed feasibility study ($100 – 300k).
  • NOAA hope to have reliable estimates in 3-6 months. Commercial solution is an option. Funding is still an issue!!!

So how do we convince the decision makers?


Total (estimated) Number of Space Weather Models Driven or Validated by ACE Solar Wind Data

  • Solar wind driven models and operational products are expected to grow considerably in the next decade.
  • ACE data directly drives five of the eleven SEC space weather watches and warnings, and influences the remaining six

NOTE: The plot above does not include many of the research efforts underway that rely on solar wind data

Average Monthly NOAA/SEC Internet Traffic and Customer Summary

Web Site: More than 30 million files transferred each month.

  • ~500,000 files created monthly with near-real-time data for 176 products
  • more than 250,000 unique customers per month
  • customers from 150 countries
  • NOAA/SEC has end-to-end system responsibility for universally used space environment data acquired by the GOES and POES environmental satellites. SEC also supplies real time solar wind data from the NASA ACE satellite.
  • A million ACE solar wind files are downloaded from the SEC FTP server every month by nearly 25,000 unique customers
  • SEC's public internet serves 4.8 million ACE RTSW data display files every month.

All the above numbers reflect monthly usage near solar minimum!


Annual Number of Space Weather Products Issued during Solar Cycle 23

  • The number of products above does not include the NOAA POES and GOES, or NASA ACE real time solar wind data sets, which account for over 14 million file transfers per month
  • Over 400 event-driven products were issued during each of the solar “minimum” years (1996 & 1997)

A Sample of Models and Products driven or validated by Solar Wind Data

UPOS - University Partnering for Operational Support

Solar Proton Penetration (into high-lat Ionosphere) Model

Field Alligned Currents

Radiation Belt Environment

Geomagnetic Storm Forecast (Dst)

Geomagnetic Storm Forecast (Kp)

Real-time Interplanetary Shock Prediiction (RISP) System

Prediction of Energetic Electron Flux at Geosync Orbit

Real-time Upstream Monitoring System (RUMS)

Active Region Helicity Injection

Hakamada-Akasofu-Fry (HAF) Solar Wind Model

CISM – Center for Integrated Space Weather Modeling

1 to 7-day prediction of the daily Ap

1-day prediction relativistic electron flux in the 2-9 MeV

Wang Sheeley Arge

Ambient Solar Wind FM

Global Solar Wind Forecast Model

Global Magnetospheric FM

Geospace FM

LMSAL/VSL Solar Wind Model (validation)

Lindsey CME Propagation Model

Gopal CME Propagation Model

Geomagnetic Storm Prediction Models

DMI – Elman recurrent neural network

Berkeley – Burton Model

IRF-Lund – Lund neural network

LASP Dst prediction

GSFC/SWRI Dst Model Predict

Costello Kp Model

Weimer Model

REFM – Relativistic Electron Forecast Model

STOA – Shock Time of Arrival Model

ISPM – Interplanetary Shock Propagation Model

EIE – Energetic Ion Enhancement


Real-time UAF Eulerian Parallel Polar Ionosphere Model

Global Assimilation of Ionospheric Measurements (GAIM)

ISTP Magnetopause and Bowshock Dynamic Modeling

IPS – Magnetopause Model

ESA – Spacecraft Anomaly Analysis Prediction System (SAAPS)

DMI – Geomagnetic Activity Forecast (GAFS)

BGS – Solar Wind Monitoring and Induction Modeling for GIC

Real-time Prediction of Auroral Electrojet Indices (GSFC)

Prediction of high-lat geomag from ACE RTSW (GSFC – - 1999

Radiation Belt Electrons at Geosynchronous Orbit (LASP)

rtAMIE – Assimilative Mapping of Ionospheric Electrodynamics

LiMIE – Linear Modeling of Ionospheric Electrodynamics

Engineers Model for Solar Energetic particles in Interplanetary

Space – (Barcelona- Lario)

Metaech SpaceCast/Powercast geomag fcst System

STD Prediction Service (Oler)

Magnetic Specification and Forecast Model (USAF)



  • POES data Usage
  • 5 million file transfers per month (web only)
  • 10,000 unique users daily
  • 30-40% of all NOAA/SEC customers use POES data
  • Heavy ftp usage too!
  • Again, these are current numbers (as we approach solar minimum)

GOES data Usage

Eight million GOES file transfers per month (web only)

– 140,000 unique users monthly


Nominal Mission

Extended Mission







Status of NOAA’s efforts to get an operational coronagraph

PPBES - It is proposed to fly a coronal mass ejection imager (CMEI) on GOES-R series.

Coronagraph imagery is expected from NASA’s SOHO and STEREO satellites until about 2011. Then, CME images will cease, as NASA has no plans to fly a replacement coronagraph.






This need has been accepted as valid by the GOES-R project, as reflected in the GOES Mission Requirements Document (MRD) and Program Requirements Document (PRD).

However, the CMEI has been deemed unaffordable by the GOES-R project. It is not manifested for flight on GOES-R, although it is listed as a high priority Pre Planned Product Improvement (P3I) if additional money becomes available.

aviation support
Aviation Support

The January 20, 2005 Radiation Storm, once again, caused impacts:

“Its been nasty …. The S3 (NOAA Scale) two days ago resulted in less optimum polar routings to Polar 4 rather than Polar 3, and lower flight levels. All this increases fuel requirements and reduced revenue payload. In addition, because of the effect on HF comms, we have abandoned polar today altogether. We must stop our Chicago to Hong Kong in Anchorage because no other routes provide non-stop capability.”

G. Cameron, Dispatcher, United Air Lines

United Airlines identified space weather as the #1 concern during polar operations


The September 2005 space weather also caused considerable impacts:

The New York Comm Center reported:

07Sep 1800Z:   Solar activity severely impacted all HFcomms.  Higher frequencies utilized with little effect.  24 aircraft position reports and NYC ATC messages were relayed via sat-voice between 1040Z and 1939Z. Severe operational impact. 

The San Francisco/SFO Comm Center reported:

07Sep 1755Z:  SFO sends ARINC Solar Flare Activity Advisory of moderate to severe impact to HF comms to airline customers.   SFO experiencing extreme HF "white-out“ conditions virtually wiping out all Pacific HF. 

11Sep   0050Z: Tokyo and Port Moresby Radio having difficulties, SFO will assist as needed.  13Sep   1930Z:    Solar activity severely disrupting HF comms in all Pacific areas throughout daylight hours.  Severe communication impact and severe operational/service impact. 

Major airlines rerouted flights away from the poles because of current and anticipated space weather conditions. This occurred several times during the September activity. These costly reroutes (~$100k) require an additional fuel stop and new crew.


Aviation Support

  • At the request of the commercial aviation community, SEC has hosted three workshops
    • April 2002
    • February 2004
    • April 2005
  • The outcomes have been:
    • a better educated user community
    • SEC’s better understanding of the plans and needs of the commercial aviation community
    • understanding of the plans for commercial vendors of services to the airlines
    • a path for SEC to provide appropriate products and services
growth on polar routes

The advent of new long range aircraft such as the A340-500/600, B777-300ER and B777-200LR

  • China’s aviation industry is developing at an explosive pace:

On June 18, 2004, the US and China concluded a bilateral air services agreement, permitting a nearly 5 fold increase in weekly frequencies over the next 6 years.

 Airlines operating China-US routes go from 4 to 9  Number of weekly flights from 54 to 249 over the next 6 years.

The Transportation Dept estimates the economic impact of the agreement at $12 billion in additional revenues for US carriers over seven years. - IATA


Typical time savings in minutes and dollars per flight (2003)New York - Singapore 209 minutes $44,000Vancouver - Hong Kong 125 minutes $33,000


Space Weather

Aviation Webpage

NOAA ScalesMaximum in Currently

past 24-hours

Geomagnetic Storms minor none Solar Radiation Storms none none Radio Blackouts moderate moderate

24 Hour Forecast

Space weather for the next 24 hours is expected to be extreme.

Geomagnetic storms reaching the G5 level are expected.

Solar radiation storms reaching the S3 level are expected.

Radio blackouts reaching the R3 level are expected.



















Watches, Warnings, Alerts, and Summaries

Issue Time: 2004 Feb 24 1713 UTCALERT: X-Ray Flux exceeded M5Threshold Reached: 2004 Feb 24 1712 UTC

Radio Blackout Plot

Polar Plot


New aviation product to help define HF degradation at high latitudes

Product will be introduced in 2006


GOES-N Launch (sometime soon…we hope!)

  • GOES-N launch, originally scheduled for May 2005, has been postponed several times and is now scheduled for a Feb 2006 launch.
    • GOES-N features another Solar X-ray Imager (SXI)
    • Improved Energetic Particle Sensor (EPS)

- Protons 80 keV – 700 MeV (16 channels)

- Electrons 30 keV – 4 MeV (8 channels)

    • First-ever operational Extreme UltraViolet Sensor (EUVS)
  • It will likely be some time (years) before GOES-N is turned on.
links with partners examples
Links with Partners (examples)

SEC can not succeed without its partners:

  • Federal – NOAA, NASA, NSF, DoD, DoE, DoT (National Space Weather Program)
  • International
    • The 11 Regional Warning Centers (RWCs) of the International Space Environment Service (ISES)
    • ESA
    • Tracking stations for ACE
  • Academic
  • Commercial space weather service providers


  • The need for space weather services is growing at a substantial rate.
  • ACE, GOES, and POES data usage is growing steadily.
  • Real time solar wind data is essential. Space weather services cannot meet customer expectations without these measurements.
  • The aviation community’s need for space weather support will play a critical role in SEC’s future.