BOULDER, Colo., Oct. 20 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say a sophisticated forecast model improves predictions of space weather that affects people and technology-based infrastructure used daily.
Researchers at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration say the new model allows them to track and forecast explosions on the sun that can cause geomagnetic and solar radiation storms that can affect electrical power grids, interfere with the normal function of GPS systems and hamper radio and satellite telecommunications.
“This advanced model has strengthened forecasters’ understanding of what happens in the 93 million miles between Earth and the sun following a solar disturbance,” Tom Bogdan of NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo., said in a NOAA release Thursday. “It will help power grid and communications technology managers know what to expect so they can protect infrastructure and the public.”
Magnetic storms can hit Earth one to four days after a coronal mass ejection on the sun sends a burst of charged particles and their accompanying magnetic field speeding toward Earth at more than 1 million mph.
Before development of the new model, forecasters could predict timing of such impacts within a 30-hour window. The new model allows forecasters to narrow that window to 12 hours, NOAA said.