AFWA monitors record solar flare

  • Published
  • By AFWA Staff Report
  • Air Force Weather Agency Public Affairs
A large group of sunspots is being tracked by Air Force Weather Agency space weather technicians here.

Over the next few days, weather technicians are forecasting moderate to extreme solar flares resulting in possible geomagnetic storms.

Heightened solar activity creates peaks in solar emissions that travel to the Earth and interact with the atmosphere. On Earth, electromagnetic signals can be directly affected by the interference of atmospheric disturbances caused by solar emissions.

These disturbances influence high-frequency communications, satellite UHF communications, and Global Positioning System navigation signals.

"Anyone trying to talk on HF radios, like our military members involved in the Hurricane relief, may have difficulty communicating," said Bryan Davis, chief forecaster at the space weather branch.

Throughout the next couple of weeks, there will be periods when high-frequency communication may not work, Mr. Davis said.

Satellites and other equipment in orbit above the protective levels of the atmosphere are vulnerable to electrical anomalies and a degradation of components because of solar radiation. There can also be increased drag on satellites in low-Earth orbits. Finally, those who track satellites and other objects in orbit can potentially lose their targets because of these changes in the atmosphere.

The geomagnetic storms may cause the aurora borealis to be pushed toward the equator, allowing people in the U.S. to have a better viewing of the luminous phenomena.