Forecasting Space Weather


The SPACESTORM project is developing new set of web displays specifically for satellite operators and designers. It continues the forecasting of space weather first started by the EU SPACECAST project. This site describes the project, partners, work to be carried out and dissemination activities. The forecasts are provided via the SPACECAST web site via the link here.  They contain many additional scientific data displays to aid interpretation. These will be released in the latter half of 2015.

A new system of space weather forecasting was set up and implemented in the SPACECAST project, which was funded by the EU under FP7.  The new SPACESTORM project has made a commitment to continue 3 of these forecasts:

  • Forecasts of the high energy electrons, 300 keV to >2 MeV
  • A ‘Nowcast’ of the low energy electrons, 40 to 150 keV
  • Radiation dose rates due to energetic protons


The models used to create these forecasts are being developed further in the SPACESTORM project.  First, the research models are being developed to include new physical processes.  Once these improvements are made, and tested, they are incorporated into the forecasting models.    Already four major improvements to the forecasting models have been implemented in year 1 of the SPACESTORM project:


  • Improved model of the source electron population for the low energy electron ‘Nowcast’
  • Improved initial conditions for the high energy electron forecasts
  • New model of chorus wave-particle interactions for the high energy electrons
  • Inclusion of losses due to magnetopause shadowing in the high energy electron forecasts


Forecasting uncertainty


It must be remembered that space weather forecasting is still at an early stage and there can be a lot of uncertainty.  To reduce uncertainty we require more advanced information on the Sun and interplanetary magnetic field and how they vary, and more measurements of waves and charged particles inside the geomagnetic field.  At present, our models take data from the ACE spacecraft (and in future DSCOVR) which means they can only give an accurate forecast up to 1 hour ahead.  Beyond that, most forecasting centres use assumptions about persistence and recurrence of variations in the space environment to make their forecasts which leads to increasing uncertainty.