The Met Office is commonly associated with producing forecasts for Earth. However, since February 2011, we have been working in partnership with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the British Geological Survey (BGS) to develop a UK-based space weather forecasting service that will monitor the way the Sun’s matter and energy changes and then predicts how these changes are likely to affect the Earth’s environment
The Sun is constantly moving and changing and often throws out large eruptions of plasma called Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) which can cause geomagnetic storms and send currents through power lines if they track towards and reach the Earth. These can then damage transformers and entire power grids. CMEs can also disrupt high frequency radio communications and GPS.
The last major geomagnetic storm affected Quebec, Canada on 13 March 1989 when six million people were plunged into darkness as their power grid failed.
The Met Office Hazard Centre currently has forecasters trained in space weather forecasting, and awareness is being raised across different industry sectors to make them aware of their potential vulnerability and how we can help lessen the risks.
On a slightly different note, many universities are currently using the expertise from the Met Office by utilising our Unified Model of global weather to “forecast the weather” on planets outside of our Solar System, or “exoplanets”. This is not something that the Met Office is independently producing but we are working in partnership with academic and research groups to help them understand how atmospheres react on planets which have different gravitational fields and gases, for example.
More information can be found about space weather in our online magazine, Barometer.
There is no mention of Piers Corbyn, the world leading expert in this field, being part of this operation. If the Met Office took time out to team up their resources and his knowledge this would be a world leading service. The Met Office will take many years and many millions of tax funding to make this work.
The the best person for this Job is Piers Corbyn NOT THE MET OFFICE!!!...GR
'And here is the VERY long range forecast:' Britain's Met Office to use its climate model to 'forecast' solar storms - and predict weather on other worlds
- by Rob Waugh - Daily Mail
Britain's Met Office is to take a 'giant leap' in its weather forecasting - and use its weather-predicting powers on other worlds.
The Met Office will also use its Unified Model to help scientists predict solar storms.
It will work with teams of scientists to develop an 'advance warning' system for violent space weather - and a 'forecast' for exoplanets in distant solar systems.
The Met Office is pooling skills with the U.K.’s space weather research community to extend its ‘Unified Model’ upwards to include the Earth’s thermosphere, a region about 400 miles above the Earth surface.
‘Space weather can affect the aviation and power industries, as well as a whole range of activities that rely on GPS timing and positioning, radio communication or satellite-based observations,’ said the Met Office’s Dr. David Jackson.
‘To develop a more accurate and useful advanced-warning system for space weather, we need to develop a system of interconnected models that describe the whole domain -- the conditions on the Sun, interplanetary space, the layers of the Earth’s atmosphere, all the way down to the Earth’s surface.
'The more accurate we can be in representing interactions between the lower atmosphere and thermosphere, the more we can enhance thermospheric forecasts, and thus improve space weather forecast products for users,’ Jackson continued.
A second team of researchers is adapting the Unified Model for extra-solar planet climatology -- the study of atmospheric properties of planets orbiting other stars.
The team, led by Prof. Isabelle Baraffe of Exeter University, comprises astrophysicists, climate scientists and meteorologists.
‘The Met Office has developed a sophisticated tool for Earth weather forecasting and climate studies. It could be of vital importance in the interpretation the wealth of observational data on extra-solar planets we expect to come within the next decade,’ said Dr. David Acreman, who will present the project at the National Astronomy Meeting on Thursday 29th March.
‘Most of the hundreds of extra-solar planets discovered to date are gas giants orbiting very close to their host star. These planets are strongly irradiated by the parent star, with one side experiencing permanent day and the other in permanent night. The day side of the planet is much hotter than the night side and this temperature difference causes high speed winds to flow.
These winds can be as fast as a few kilometers per second.
'Although these conditions are unlike anything seen on Earth, the Unified Model is capable of handling these extreme circumstances,’ said Acreman, who is part of the Astrophysics group at the University of Exeter....Click Daily Mail link for more.
Met Office to predict space weather
- by Nick Collin, Science Correspondent, The Telegraph
The Met Office may have given up forecasting "barbecue summers" in Britain, but now it has set its sights on a more distant goal: predicting the weather in space.
The UK's forecasting agency will branch out to studying distant layers of the atmosphere in an attempt to better understand the impact that the Sun's activity has on Earth.
By extending its focus from 60 miles to 380 miles (90-600km) above ground, weathermen hope to deliver earlier and more accurate predictions of how storms on the Sun will affect our GPS, radio and power systems.
The region they will study includes the thermosphere, a layer of the atmosphere where space weather is more noticeable as the Earth's magnetic field repels streams of charged particles expelled by the Sun.
Last month there were fears that a giant solar flare would wreak havoc on airline schedules and power grids as it shot large clouds of particles directly towards Earth.
Although the effects were largely cancelled out by the magnetic field, such events have the potential to seriously impact the Earth and are expected to become more common as the Sun enters the most active stage of its 11-year cycle.
Speaking at the National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester Dr David Jackson of the Met Office said: "Space weather can affect the aviation and power industries, as well as a whole range of activities that rely on GPS timing and positioning, radio communication or satellite-based observations."
The Met Office has also announced it will make its climate models available to Exeter university academics to help them explore what atmospheric conditions might be like on other planets.
Two years ago the weather service announced it would stop publishing its traditional seasonal forecast after a stream of headlines announcing "barbecue summers" and "mild winters" proved completely wrong.
Explaining its decision at the time, the Met Office said the science was too inexact to give an accurate long-range forecast and its statistical predictions were being exaggerated by the media.