Solar spots visible, solar flares forecasted

  • Published
  • By Jodie Grigsby
  • AFWA Public Affairs
Large groups of Sunspots, are being tracked by Air Force Weather Agency space weather technicians. Over the next few days, weather technicians are forecasting for moderate to extreme solar flares resulting in possible geomagnetic storms.

AFWA space weather technicians warn the Department of Defense and the National Intelligence Community of significant solar activity. Space Weather technicians create textual and graphical products for use as part of mission planning and environmental situational awareness programs.

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

These disturbances influence HF communications, satellite UHF communications, and GPS navigation signals. They also increase interference or false returns to sunward and/or poleward looking radars.

Satellites and other equipment in orbit above the protective levels of the atmosphere are vulnerable to electrical anomalies and a degradation of components due to 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 individuals in the continental United States to have a better viewing of the Aurora Borealis.