NOAA predicts a faster and stronger peak of solar activity

NOAA predicts a faster and stronger peak of solar activity

The new beta forecast will provide more accurate forecasts, and is updated monthly

October 25, 2023 – NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) has issued a revised forecast for solar activity during solar cycle 25 that concludes that solar activity will increase more rapidly and peak at a higher level than that predicted by the expert panel in December 2019. The forecast calls The updated now until solar cycle 25 reaches its peak between January and October of 2024, with the maximum number of sunspots between 137 and 173.

This forecast marks the first appearance of SWPC's experimental updated solar cycle forecast product on the Space Weather Prediction Test website. The website provides SWPC partners and customers the opportunity to provide feedback on the product before it is fully integrated into SWPC operations. During this time, the product will be updated monthly to provide an accurate and up-to-date prediction of the progress of solar cycle 25, which began in 2019.

NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center has issued a revised forecast for solar activity during Solar Cycle 25. The new experimental solar cycle forecast released on October 25 concludes that solar activity will increase more rapidly and peak at a higher level than previously expected. The updated prediction calls for Solar Cycle 25 to reach its peak between January and October 2024, with a maximum number of sunspots between 137 and 173. (NOAA)

Mark Misch, a CIRES scientist who serves as SWPC's solar cycle lead, said the Cycle 25 forecast has not been updated since its release in 2019 and is no longer reliable enough for SWPC's clients, many of whom plan their operations years in advance. .

“We expect our new experimental forecasts to be much more accurate than the 2019 panel forecasts, and unlike previous solar cycle forecasts, they will be constantly updated on a monthly basis as new sunspot observations become available,” Misch said. “It's a very important change.”

Misch added that no two solar cycles are the same. Solar magnetic variability – here measured by the number of sunspots – regulates the frequency and intensity of space weather events and hazards, which can interfere with the electrical grid, degrade GPS signals, increase orbital drag on satellites, and pose radiation risks On airline crews and astronauts. Stronger solar cycles produce more intense solar storms and thus pose a greater risk to these vital technologies and services.

The 2019 panel, convened by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA and the International Space Environmental Services (ISES), predicted that solar cycle 25, following the relatively weak solar cycle 24, would also be weak, peaking in July 2025 at maximum number Sunspots, which is 115. Solar cycle 24 was the weakest cycle in 100 years, with the number of sunspots peaking at 116 for the solar cycle, which is well below the average, which is 179. The new prediction of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), although Even though it is larger than the board predictions and larger than cycle 24, it still represents the number. The strength of the solar cycle 25 is below average.

The earlier maximum in the new forecast goes hand in hand with greater amplitude, as strong cycles are known to rise faster and peak sooner. It's also good news for sky watchers. This means that the total solar eclipse that will be visible from the United States on April 8, 2024 will occur near the maximum of the cycle. The Sun may put on a good show, with a particularly impressive corona – the Sun's extended outer atmosphere that can only be seen during an eclipse.

Even simple space weather events can have big impacts. After a successful launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida in early February 2022, minor geomagnetic storms caused 38 of SpaceX Starlink's 49 satellites to fail to reach their final orbit, and instead burned up during unplanned reentry into the envelope. Earth's atmosphere. While SWPC accurately predicted the space weather storm, analysis by NOAA, CIRES and Starlink scientists published in the journal AGU Space Weather found that improving observations and forecasts of simple space weather events could help avoid future satellite losses.

SWPC's new solar cycle forecasting product was announced at a satellite environment testing exercise held in Boulder, Colorado, October 25-27. Space weather threats including satellite clouds and energetic particles are the focus of the exercise and panel discussions at the event.

NOAA's test platforms provide a proven way for researchers, forecasters and end users to work side by side to move advanced technologies and applications to operational platforms as quickly as possible. It also provides the opportunity to strategize new developments for the benefit of the public. NOAA currently operates 12 different testbeds for applications focused on hazardous weather, climate, the Arctic, aviation, hydrometeorology, and more. SWPC's Space Weather Prediction Test is the most recent to be commissioned. NOAA's Global Systems Laboratory is building a fire weather testbed in Boulder that will begin testing new fire weather applications this year.

SWPC, a division of the National Weather Service, is the nation's civilian authority for space weather alerts, watches, warnings and advisories. Visit for updates.


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For questions or comments on this story, please contact NOAA Communications: Maureen O'Leary and Theo Stein

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