Near Real Time Data for Operational Space Weather Forecasting

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 11:35 AM
Thomas Edward Berger, NOAA Boulder, Space Weather Prediction Center, Boulder, CO, United States
Space weather operations presents unique challenges for data systems and providers. Space weather events evolve more quickly than terrestrial weather events. While terrestrial weather occurs on timescales of minutes to hours, space weather storms evolve on timescales of seconds to minutes. For example, the degradation of the High Frequency Radio communications between the ground and commercial airlines is nearly instantaneous when a solar flare occurs. Thus the customer is observing impacts at the same time that the operational forecast center is seeing the event unfold. The diversity and spatial scale of the space weather system is such that no single observation can capture the salient features. The vast space that encompasses space weather and the scarcity of observations further exacerbates the situation and make each observation even more valuable. The physics of interplanetary space, through which many major storms propagate, is very different from the physics of the ionosphere where most of the impacts are felt. And while some observations can be made from ground-based observatories, many of the most critical data comes from satellites, often in unique orbits far from Earth. In this presentation, I will describe some of the more important sources and types of data that feed into the operational alerts, watches, and warnings of space weather storms. Included will be a discussion of some of the new space weather forecast models and the data challenges that they bring forward.