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Space Climate 7- The Future of Solar Activity

The Space Climate Symposia Series brings together leading experts in the field of space climate.

The objectives of the Symposia are three-fold:

  • to better understand the causes and effects of long-term variations in solar activity, with focus on the solar magnetic dynamo, and how the magnetic field it generates produces the various phenomena collectively making up solar activity: e.g., sunspots, flares, coronal mass ejections, coronal holes, high-speed solar wind streams etc;
  • to better understand how the varying solar activity affects the near-Earth space, atmosphere and even climate, on time scales ranging from a few solar rotations up to several millennia;
  • to better understand the intricacies of the various datasets used to make inferences about long-term solar variations: e.g., the sunspot number time series and geomagnetic observations.
  • You can find the daily program in PDF here and list of posters in PDF version here.

    Robertus Erdélyi and Marianna Korsos participated at Space Climate 7 symposia, you can read the abstract here.

National Astronomy Meeting 2019

The Royal Astronomical Society is proud to present the National Astronomy Meeting, to be held at Lancaster University in July 2019. NAM2019 will bring together hundreds of delegates from the UK astronomy community and will feature a wide-ranging scientific programme in parallel with exciting outreach and cultural events.

A formal welcome to the conference was given by the President of the RAS, Prof. Mike Cruise, and the Vice Chancellor of Lancaster University, Prof. Mark E. Smith.

more here

View Programme by Session

In addition to the talks and posters, they have a range of plenary talks throughout the week. More details can be found here.

Full details of all of the oral presentations in the parallel sessions can also be downloaded as a single PDF, available here.

Noémi Zsámberger had a talk: MHD waves in multi-layered waveguides ( abstract)

Solar Physics Summer School at Raman Science Center, Leh (Indian Institute of Astrophysics)

The influence of the Sun on the Earth and on our technology is modulated by the solar activity cycle. The summer school focussed on the Physics of the Sun and Sun – Earth connection. The one week long international school introduced and trained the PhD students to the state-of-the-art theoretical and data analysis techniques. The techniques taught in the school have enhance the scientific outcome from various space as well as ground based observatories, with particular emphasis on Aditya-L1 of the Indian Space Research Organization.

This was a truely international School. The School's programme consisted of a set of specialised lectures (Robertus gave 3 pectures: MHD, MHD Waves and Solar AMgnto-Seismology) in advanced topics in solar physics, as well as hands-on and transferrable skills sessions in solar data analysis.

Approximately 35 students were lucky to be there after a competitive process and online application system. The school lasted for six wonderful days, and each participant was provided with local hospitality and some travel support.

more here

We have also visited Pagong Lake for the NLST site and possible for a SAMNet node and discussed with scientists seeing and other environmental issues.

2nd China-Europe Solar Physics Meeting

Main aim of this meeting was to strengthen the collaboration between European and Chinese scientists, in particular among young scientists. The scientific sessions were included the following topics:

  • 1) Solar Interior, Dynamo and the Solar Cycle;
  • 2) Heating and Coupling of the Solar Atmosphere layers;
  • 3) Fundamental Plasma Processes: Magnetic Reconnection, Waves, Emission, Particle Acceleration;
  • 4) Manifestations and Triggering of Solar Flares and Coronal Mass Ejections;
  • 5) Solar-Terrestrial Relations, Solar Wind, Space Weather and Space Climate.

Photos are here.

SOLARNET Kick-Off Meeting (1st General Assembly of SOLARNET) Thursday, January 24th, 2019 in Brussels

Venue: Spanish Research Council (CSIC) Brussels Delegation, Rue du Trône 62

Rolf Schlichenmaier, the coordinator of SOLARNET welcomed all the participants. The SOLARNET project officer, Keji Adumno, was also present. The coordinator gratefully acknowledged the help of the Project Officer during the grant agreement preparation phase.

All presentations from the coordinator and the work package leaders that are presented during the Kick-Off meeting are available at: here To view the presentations, click on "Conference contributions".

The follwoign were discussed:

  • Overview of SOLARNET Project (by Rolf Schlichenmaier)
  • Compilation of Partner Representatives for the SOLARNET General Assembly
  • Welcome and Guidelines by EU Project Officer
  • Presentation of Work Packages 1 -10
  • Chair of SOLARNET General Assembly
  • Election of WP leaders

On a hot day in August 1972 toward the end of the Vietnam War, dozens of naval mines off the coast of Hai Phong in North Vietnam began to explode without warning. In March 1989, a magnetic surge tripped circuits, knocking out power in the entire Canadian province of Quebec. While in 1859, an event sparked telegraph lines, igniting fires, and northern lights so bright that British stargazers could read newspapers at night. These days, scientists know that all these events were caused by intense space weather, capable of wreaking havoc on electric grids and electromagnetically sensitive technology.

Importantly, modern scientists have something that observers decades ago did not – sophisticated satellite data and modelling that can forecast space weather with accuracy.

‘If space weather forecasting is inaccurate…space storms can result in disruption in the operation of satellites, interruptions of communication, incorrect navigation data from GPS satellites, force the rerouting of polar flight paths, or set up ground induced currents that can severely impact the operation of power grids and pipelines,’ said Professor Robertus von Fay-Siebenburgen, who headed up a project called PROGRESS at the University of Sheffield in the UK.

During high periods of solar activity, the sun flings off massive chunks of changed plasma which can severely damage technological infrastructure on Earth. Image Credit - NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams.

Along with other scientists, he coordinated the work to improve the reliability of systems that predict space weather events by measuring the solar wind from distances further away from Earth than previously possible.

Solar activity follows an 11-year cycle of high and low periods. Those high periods are when it is most likely for events like coronal mass ejections (CMEs) to occur, where the sun flings off massive bulks of charged plasma into space. These charged particles, when directed towards Earth, can impact in as soon as half a day’s time. Many times the first real warning can only come an hour before.

‘The consequences of space weather hazards can result in anything from a mild operational inconvenience to total loss of segments of our modern technological infrastructure,’ said Prof. von Fay- Siebenburgen.

‘A worst-case scenario may cause the setback of the economy of a country even up to a decade.’

Solar storms have caused sea mines on Earth to explode and unusually bright northern lights in the past. Courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams.

Improved forecasts

That’s where improved forecasts come in.

‘If we can successfully forecast the state of the solar wind at L1 (a point between the Earth and Sun where gravitation forces are equal) based on observations of the solar disk, we can increase this forecast horizon to about one day (in a worst-case scenario),’ he said.

One way the project did this was by using more advanced computer modelling, instead of having to wait for observed results.

Using machine learning to sift through data, computers can predict the level of geomagnetic activity due to the interaction of the solar wind with the terrestrial magnetic field, forecasting how particles travel between the magnetic field and radiation belts.

For instance, what effect particles cause can depend greatly on the direction of a CME’s magnetic field.

‘Some of these particles may lose their energy to the atmosphere causing the aurora borealis/australis. Other particles can gain energy, thus posing a threat to the satellites orbiting in the vicinity of the radiation belts. Solar flares may emit intense bursts of X-rays that can penetrate deep into the ionosphere severely disrupting radio communications and navigation systems,’ Prof. von Fay- Siebenburgen said.

He thinks that we still have a long way to go in improving forecasts, noting that a ground-based monitoring network or satellites positioned to the side of or behind the Sun relative to the Earth could lead to further improvements.

‘These systems (ground- or space-based) would enable a reliable forecasting by up to three to five days, a lead time that the industry and other stakeholder have highly desired for a long time.’

Alternative views

Dr Richard Harrison at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK is on a similar track. He and colleagues in a project called HELCATS, used a satellite set up to monitor the Sun and Earth from a side view, known as STEREO, to gather data on CMEs and how they vary in speed, density, and direction throughout a solar cycle.

‘The idea was to exploit the STEREO Heliospheric Imaging data, with observations of over 1000 CMEs from 2007 onwards, and apply the latest and best analysis and modelling techniques to investigate the identification, tracking, and prediction of CME events in the heliosphere,’ he said.

By combining solar events seen from imaging with modelling, they were able to help improve predictions of arrival times on Earth by better understanding how CMEs interact with one another as they propagate outward from the Sun.

‘The HELCATS project is a resource for the research community. The catalogues will continue to be widely exploited and the assessment of the models has had a lasting impact on our approach to studies of Earth-impacting events,’ he said.

‘Forecasting space weather is becoming more and more important and our modern technologies are far more susceptible to impacts from space weather. The threat is recognised to the extent that severe space weather is now listed on the national risk registers of many countries.’

Spanish Research Council (CSIC) Brussels Delegation, Rue du Trône, 62, Brussels

Mariann Korsos represented Hungary. The following topics were discussed:

  • WP1 “Project Coordination and Management”
  • WP2 “EST Governance”
  • WP3 “EST Legal Structure”
  • WP4 “Financial Schemes of EST and Strategic Actions”
  • WP5 “Strategic Actions to Reinforce EST Visibility and Trans-national Engagement”
  • WP6 “Technical Works and Site Evaluation”

Discussion on aspects to be highlighted for the MTR.

European Association of Solar Telescopes GA meeting

A regular EAST general assembly was held in Brussels on January 21, 2019 at the Spanish Research Council (CSIC; Rue du Trône 62) at 1 pm. Mariann Korsos represented Hungary.

New EAST Executive director was elected: Marco Stangalini.

The follwoing topics were discussed:

  • The vice-president asked to have the possibility of reporting on the German position with regard to EST at the end of the meeting.
  • The minutes of the last GA are approved without changes.
  • The president informed the assembly about his and the vice-president’s willingness to be reelected for 2019-2020.
  • Prof. Mats Carlsson and Prof. Oskar von der Lühe awere unanimously re-elected as president and vice-president, respectively, of EAST for 2019-2020.
  • Report on EAST activities: The executive director informed that a new repository containing all relevant documents and the 3 minutes of the meetings are available, and hosted on the Google Drive platform. The executive director also informed that this is hosted on an INAF Google business account and therefore no ownership is transferred to Google itself. Access to the cloud is restricted to EAST members and available only upon explicit request. The executive director also informed that, for practical reasons, the EAST mailing list was moved, together with all the contacts, to the new address After this, a discussion started on the possible relocation of the EAST website. It was suggested and agreed that the EAST website should remain a subsection of the web-portal, which aggregates in the same place all the information about EST and all its past and present related projects (e.g. SOLARNET, GREST, PRE-EST).
  • Membership requests were discussed.
  • Overview of SOLARNET II project was given.
  • Overview of GREST and PRE-EST projects and EST activities were given.

Researchers improve tools for predicting weather in space (Source: School of Mathematics and Statistics, SU)

A team of researchers has helped to improve space weather forecasts so that todays technological infrastructure can be better protected from unexpected interruptions.

Many technologies and industries – from radio, TV, mobile phone technologies, to GPS and other navigation services and power transmission systems, to service industries such as banking – rely on satellites and other essential space and terrestrial infrastructure.

But weather events in space, originating on the Sun and propagating towards our home planet, can cause problems that stop systems that the global economy relies on from working properly.

The PROGRESS project, co-ordinated by Professor Robertus von Fay-Siebenbürgen in the School of Mathematics and Statistics, was set up as a European/US collaboration to develop Europe-wide tools to forecast solar wind conditions close to the Earth and their effects within the magnetosphere.

It brought together researchers from the School of Mathematics and Statistics and the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering at the University of Sheffield, alongside collaborators from Warwick, Finland, Germany, the USA, Ukraine, France, Sweden and Germany.

Professor von Fay-Siebenbürgen, who is the deputy head of the University of Sheffield's Solar Physics and Space Plasma Research Centre, said: "We have exploited our combined expertise to create a comprehensive set of forecasting tools, combining data-based modelling techniques with improvements to state of the art physics-based models."

The team created created a numerical magnetohydrodynamics-based model by coupling two individual models to enable an advanced forecast of solar wind parameters. "The first, AWSoM, analyses the magnetic field at the solar surface, using it to simulate the solar atmosphere out to 25 solar radii. From this point outwards, the second model, SWIFT, propagates these solar winds out to 1.5 million kilometres upstream of the Earth," Professor von Fay-Siebenbürgen explained.

He added: "The new models developed by the consortium are based on our improved understanding of the dynamics of the radiation belts. The results are important for the scientific community as they give novel insight into physical processes of plasmas in the near-Earth environment."

When these space weather events arrive at the Earth they can result in increased numbers of 'killer electrons' capable of damaging satellites. "Our new models for the evolution of fluxes of electrons at geostationary orbit, the location of large numbers of satellites, are a significant improvement on those that went before," explained Professor Michael Balikhin from the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering, who also played a key role in the project with colleagues Dr Simon Walker, Dr Richard Boynton and Dr Hua-Liang Wei.

UK Solar Mission Forum

UK solar missions forum: the future of missions, facilities and computing website. The purpose of this meeting (Royal Astronomical Society, London) was to look towards the future, and how the UK solar physics community to build on their world class heritage. The EST aspects were presented by Robertus.

The purpose of this meeting is to look towards the future, and how the UK solar physics community to build on our world class heritage. We particularly encourage student, and early career scientists along, as these missions take many years, and we hope that the future mission leaders will join us.The talks are available online.

EST Calendar 2019

Dear EST lovers, The new EST Calendar 2019 has arrived!

You can download it from our website HERE. You can upload the calendar to your personal social networks, tag us, and use the hashtag ESTCalendar2019. The subject of the calendars this year are the EST Science Targets. In the calendar we have tried to showcase the most interesting science cases that the teams working for EST are performing at the moment, and how EST will help to improve their results.

Magyar Napfizikai Alapítvány

Hungarian Solar Physics Fundation

Last update: 2019 July © Copyright HSPF 2017