2.1 NOAA Activities Current and Future Ensuring Geomagnetic Storm Watches and Warnings

Monday, 23 January 2017: 1:30 PM
4C-2 (Washington State Convention Center )
Douglas Biesecker, NOAA/NWS, Boulder, CO; and M. Caulfield, L. J. Zanetti, and D. Socker

Geomagnetic storms are widely considered to be the most significant type of space weather, as the impacts of these events can and do affect a wide range of industries.  Geomagnetic storms can disrupt the electric power grid, impact precision GPS/GNSS users, affect aviation, and impact satellites to name just some of the areas at risk.  Key to protecting these systems is providing advanced notification of geomagnetic storms with the largest lead time possible.  The most severe geomagnetic storms result from coronal mass ejections (CMEs) which travel from the Sun to the Earth in 1 to 4 days, with the most extreme events transiting in about 17 hours.  The most reliable way to determine whether a CME has erupted and threatens Earth is to use white light coronagraph images taken from a position on the Sun-Earth line.  From these observations, NOAA forecasters are able to issue a geomagnetic storm watch to customers so they can take any necessary precautions.  Then, having made it 99% of the way to the Earth, a satellite orbiting the L1 Lagrange point such as the NOAA DSCOVR satellite, can detect the details of the CME magnetic field strength and direction.  Forecasters are then able to issue a geomagnetic storm warning to customers, who can then take action as necessary to protect their systems.  We will highlight the capabilities of the NOAA DSCOVR satellite for providing reliable warnings of storms.  We will also discuss the next NOAA L1 mission, known as the Space Weather Follow On (SWFO), proposed for launch in 2022.  The baseline set of instruments for SWFO are the in-situ plasma and magnetic field instruments, suprathermal ion sensor, and a coronagraph.  Included will be a discussion of the observing requirements that will ensure the SWFO meets forecasting needs.
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