To Infinity and Beyond

Weather forecasting stays down here in the troposphere where we all live. Space forecasting goes way beyond that.

NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) has transitioned a new computer model into operations to increase its understanding of space weather events and improve space weather forecasting capabilities. These advances will help forecasters provide better information to us about potential impacts from a solar storm will help us better prepare and adapt to the disruption storms cause across so many parts of our lives; including communications, satellite and airline operations, human space flight, and navigation and surveying.


If you want your mobile phone and GPS to work right, we need to know what’s going on with solar storms so this first of its kind coupled Whole Atmosphere Model and Ionosphere Plasmasphere Electrodynamics Model (WAM-IPE Model) is now part of the Space Weather Prediction Center’s (SWPC) suite of forecast tools.

This is a major breakthrough because it’s the first time a forecast model will predict how Earth’s upper atmosphere will respond to solar and geomagnetic conditions as well as the disturbances from the lower atmosphere.

A new neutral-density product that could be used by satellite operators and ground-tracking systems for space traffic management. We’ve all heard how much equipment we have in orbit these days and this information will give operators the ability to predict the orbits of all the tech flying around.

The model will augment the existing WSA-ENLIL solar wind propagation model and the Geospace Model in SWPC operations, adding an important link in the “Sun-to-Earth” space weather modeling process. Space weather is caused by a series of interconnected events, beginning at the Sun and ending in the near-Earth space environment. Our ability to predict conditions and events in space depends on our understanding of these connections, and more importantly, our ability to predict the details.

WSA-Enlil Model Output. Courtesy: NOAA

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