Thursday, June 18, 2009

"SPACE: IBM to forecast 'weather' from solar storms"

Weather in space is usually pretty uneventful, but soon the Sun is expected to change that by entering a violent period where solar plumes will eject plasma clouds which cause magnetic storms here on Earth. By anticipating such disruptions, space weather forecasts will mitigate the damaging effects of these storms in the coming months. R.C.J.

Space weather forecasts predicting communications disruptions caused by sun-spots will begin later this month by IBM, Uppsala University (Sweden) and the Swedish Institute of Space Physics computing. By integrating the signals from geographically dispersed 3D radio antennas, clusters of blades will issue space weather forecasts for the next 18-to-24 hours from the recent state of the Sun. This space weather forecasting capability is aimed at mitigating interference from Sun-spot Cycle 24—an 11-year cycle slated to begin this year. Sun-spot Cycle 24 is expected to disrupt satellite and terrestrial communications here on Earth as well as some landline communications and even the power grid. Early warning is theoretically possible, but the data processing task is enormous, since over 6 Gbytes of data needs to be sifted every second.