Space Weather Prediction Center reflects the rapidly-growing importance of solar storm forecast the nation’s well-being, NOAA officials said.
According to a press release, economies around the world have become increasingly vulnerable to the ever-changing nature of our nearest star. Solar-related geomagnetic storms can bring down power grids, interfere with high-frequency airline and military communications, disrupt positioning signals, interrupt civilian communications, and blanket the Earth’s upper atmosphere with hazardous radiation.
“The Space Weather Prediction Center is critical to our economy because each time we use a cell phone, check a GPS locator, or take an over-the-pole flight, space weather could have an impact,” National Weather Service director Jack Hayes said.
In addition to issuing critical warnings and forecasts of solar activity, the prediction center helps move the latest computer models of solar dynamics and sun-Earth interactions into the daily operations of space weather prediction. Scientists and forecasters work closely with government and university partners to develop prediction models and other tools for improving services to the nation’s space weather community.
Monitoring and forecasting solar outbursts in time to mitigate their impact on space-based technologies have become new national priorities. The center is the America’s official source of space weather forecasts, alerts, and warnings, and provides daily reports on conditions on the sun and within Earth’s space environment. Electric power grid operators rely on NOAA space weather products to mitigate grid damage and anticipate possible large-scale blackouts during geomagnetic storms. The U.S. military relies on similar forecasts from the Air Force Weather Agency to know if orbiting satellites have suffered natural effects or human interference.
NOAA, a scientific agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, focuses on the conditions of the oceans and the atmosphere. NOAA warns of dangerous weather, charts seas and skies, guides the use and protection of ocean and coastal resources, and conducts research to improve understanding and stewardship of the environment.