Research
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HomeResearch Wednesday, Dec 07 2016 14:22 UT

The accurate prediction of space weather is one of the great scientific challenges of our age. Space weather is driven by a vast multi-scale system including the Sun, solar wind, magnetosphere, ionosphere and thermosphere. The largest scale sizes encountered in these systems dwarf the scale sizes of the Earth’s ocean-atmosphere system.

The development of accurate empirical, numerical and physics-based models of the solar-terrestrial system will require decades of basic research. The models will need to make accurate predictions despite a paucity of sensors providing measurements to constrain them.

It is important that the academic research community address the space weather challenge: there are a broad range of day-by-day impacts on modern technology, and a solar super storm has the potential to deliver a devastating blow to our technology dependent civilisation.

The new Culgoora multi-channel solar optical telescope assembly A Hydrogen alpha image recorded on 24 October 2015

The new Culgoora multi-channel solar optical telescope assembly (left) and a Hydrogen alpha image recorded on 24 October 2015 (right). Photos taken by Mr.Peter Ward.

Research Strategy

Space weather science is a young discipline in urgent need of applied research aiming to improve the delivery of predictions mitigating the detrimental impacts of space weather. The Australian space research community is small compared to the North American, European and Asian communities. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology will achieve its research and development needs through the following strategy:

  • Guide and leverage the support of the Australian and international space research communities to undertake applied research projects aiming to improve our capacity to predict space weather accurately.
  • Engage and cooperate with scientific staff within International Space Environment Service (ISES) Regional Warning Centres (RWC) for space weather with a view towards harmonising and sharing new models and techniques.
  • Build relationships with high value customers working in defence, aviation, emergency services, industry and government to nurture collaboration and co-funding of specialised applied research projects.
  • Employ a small team of dynamic scientific staff of the highest possible calibre and ensure their knowledge of space weather and its impacts on modern technology are current.
  • Ensure that our staff maintain a high level of computer and statistical literacy to facilitate the deployment and verification of space weather prediction models developed by academic and research groups.
  • Align our research with the needs of customers by tasking our scientists with the development and delivery of space weather services.
  • Maintain a World Data Centre as a secure repository for premium quality space weather data sets supporting basic and applied research in Australia and abroad.

Research Priorities

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology's Space Weather Services is not a research institute and has limited staff capacity to support research. We are interested in evaluating the performance of new approaches and models aiming to improve the prediction of space weather and its impact on technology:

  • Probabilistic predictions of solar flares, Solar Energetic Particle (SEP) events and solar radio bursts.
  • Prediction of solar wind conditions including the interplanetary magnetic field variations at Earth, particularly during ICMEs arising from solar active regions or filament eruptions.
  • Prediction of geomagnetic and ionospheric storms and their severity.
  • Prediction of ionospheric irregularities including equatorial bubbles and TIDs.
  • Prediction of GICs throughout the Australian region.
  • Prediction of the Aurora Australis.

Publications

A selected collection of relevant publications is listed here.

Contacts

  • Dr Murray Parkinson, Consultancy and Development Manager, Space Weather Services
  • Dr Mike Terkildsen, Senior Space Weather Scientist, Space Weather Services

Please contact the SWS office initially.

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