Update: Met Office keeping a close eye on space weather

17 05 2013

Updated on 20th May 2013

The recent activity on the Sun has now decreased back to levels we would normally expect at this point in time, close to a maximum of the 11-year solar cycle.

This follows a period where a sunspot, identified as 1748, emitted a number of powerful solar flares which were directed away from Earth.

There was a concern that another eruption from 1748 would be more directly aimed at Earth as it moved round with the Sun’s rotation. However, 1748 has reduced in size and has seen no significant activity for more than 48 hours.

While the risk of impacts on Earth has decreased, it is still possible that high levels of activity will re-emerge from 1748 while it is facing Earth. The Met Office will continue to monitor the situation.

Mark Gibbs, Head of Space Weather at the Met Office, said: “This sunspot was particularly active last week, sending out one solar flare which was the largest measured for over a year. Fortunately its eruptions were not directed at Earth and we saw very minimal impacts.

“We have observed a decrease in the spot’s activity in the past couple of days and, while a risk remains, we are now at a normal level of activity for this point in the solar cycle.”

 

Previous updates:

Updated on 17th May 2013

As per our blog article published yesterday, the Met Office continues to closely monitor the Sun following a recent surge in its activity related to a sunspot (identified by the number 1748).

This morning saw a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), which is an eruption of electromagnetically charged gas (plasma), from the sunspot. The CME is due to catch Earth with a glancing blow which is not expected to cause any significant impacts.

There remains a low risk through to the end of next week that we could see a CME from 1748 which is aimed more directly at Earth, but after that the risk is expected to diminish.

We’ll continue to monitor the situation closely and provide updates if there are any changes.


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2 responses

20 05 2013
nuwurld

Mmm. Don’t know quite how to reply to this David. Firstly I am very happy that you acknowledge the existence and variability of our Sun.

However, I am not sure you are being truly faithful to her mood. The Sun is 99.99% of the energy we experience on the surface of this wonderful jewel of a planet. Sunspots are an ‘indicator’, no more, of the spectral and particulate flux delivered to the Earth as a unique package of energy every second of every day. This is a time for science to learn about the Sun/Earth connection.

You say you are monitoring the solar flux. So I can throw in some conjecture.

To quote you,

“The recent activity on the Sun has now decreased back to levels we would normally expect at this point in time”

What does that mean?

This period of a activity, cycle 24 is the weakest cycle for 100 years.

Contradict me.

Current or recent ‘maximum’ levels have never reached those of cycle 23 or 22.

Contradict me.

How are you predicting levels ‘at this point in time’? With reference to this being the weakest solar max for 100 years, what is your reference?

You have suggested ‘ not to write-off summer’ and for that you will ‘need’ active Sun, massive increase in geopotential and the jet stream anchored poleward in a steep, equator to pole atmospheric gradient. Unlikely.

This ‘is’ the last chance for solar activity to temporarily redress the decline for one year only. Beyond that, and for the next 30 years the Sun will be quiet. The 11 year cycle is broken. It ‘never’ was. The Sun does less than 11, or more than 11. It never, ever, ever has done 11.
Welcome to more than 11 years. Dress warm. Plant hardy grains that crop early, and be kind to fellow man.

21 05 2013
Dave Britton

This blog post refers to an increase in activity associated with a solar flare or CME last week. This was identified as identified as 1748,amd there was a concern that another eruption from 1748 would be more directly aimed at Earth as it moved round with the Sun’s rotation, posing the risk of disruption to communications technologies, GPS etc. This is an operational forecasting service that the Met Office provides to government. However, 1748 has reduced in size and has seen no significant activity for more than 48 hours.

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