Met Office to offer daily space weather forecasts

Sun unleashing a solar flare a minor radiation storm on 7 June 2011 Solar flares and eruptions in the Sun's atmosphere are sources of the potentially destructive storms

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The Met Office is to begin offering daily forecasts about the weather in space.

The 24 hour service will aim to help businesses and government departments by providing early warnings of solar storms that can disrupt satellites, radio communications and power grids.

The first forecast is expected to be available next spring.

The Department for Business will support the scheme with £4.6m of funding over the next three years.

The Met Office will aim to develop better ways of predicting space weather in collaboration with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

UK partners involved in the project include the British Geological Survey, Bath University and RAL Space.

Space weather is driven by energetic particles from the Sun.

Solar flares and eruptions in the Sun's atmosphere - known as coronal mass ejections - are powerful sources of potentially destructive solar storms.

Start Quote

Space weather is a relatively immature science but understanding is growing rapidly”

End Quote Mark Gibbs The Met Office

They have the potential to damage sensitive satellite components and induce current surges strong enough to knock out power grids on Earth.

A massive blackout in Quebec in 1989 has been attributed to a solar storm.

The Sun's activity peaks about every 11 years, when solar emissions become more intense. It is currently in a "solar maximum" phase.

Mark Gibbs, head of space weather at the Met Office, said: "Space weather is a relatively immature science but understanding is growing rapidly."

He said the Met Office collaboration aimed to "accelerate the development of improved space weather models and prediction systems to make more effective use of space weather data".

Mr Gibbs added: "This investment will enable the Met Office to complete the space weather forecasting capability that it has been developing over the past two years and begin delivering forecasts, warnings and alerts to key sectors to minimise the impact to the technology-based services we all rely on."

Andrew Richards, a risk analyst for the National Grid, said: "A round-the-clock UK forecasting service for space weather is essential as part of National Grid's procedures for running the electricity transmission network securely and safely."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    @59 the met office is not wrong 90% of the time. instead of making things up on the internet why dont you do something productive :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    I check the weather on the BBC News website, Met Office website and on Accuweather and each give different forecasts, but invariably it's Accuweather that give the correct forecast.

    Forget about the Met Office starting to forecast the weather in space, because it appears they already give us the forecast for Alpha Centauri.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    I don’t get your moaning. Here you have an example of top British minds selling a product within a global market place. Just cuz u dont understand the multibillion dollar value of the effects of solar flares on satellites and the repercussions on earth is not a reason to hate it. I personally rejoice when we as a society put money behind bright minds instead of the financial sector!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    All the Met officials - I have Mumbai in mind - should be relocated out there on a permanent basis letting the city recover from the hangover over their silly forecasts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    its the silly season.. Travel to Mars and be stopped by leaves on the line and high winds anyone?

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    I cannot make up my mind if some of these comments are put up to deliberately to annoy people (especially the anti-Beeb ones) or if these people are just plain stupid. I suspect it's a bit of both.

    Of course space weather is important - what would happen if a solar flare were to knock out our communication systems? The above people couldn't send their inane comments to each other for a start...

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    This is vita, as you'll need to check with the space weather forecast prior to banking cheques via your smart phone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    A lot of people have benefitted from reliable weather forecasts of late.
    We are given weather predictions, based on scientific practice, and as such we should be grateful for it. The Sun is a volatile mass, and as such needs watching closely. We now rely totally on satellites for communications and navigation. Anything that can be used to protect these assets should be promoted with enthusiasm.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    "The Department for Business will support the scheme with £4.6m of funding over the next three years."

    If I see one more "Help the Syrians" appeal.....!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Has the Met Office been privatised yet ?

    Because that's all modern politicians care about - their corporate pals making a fast buck at our expense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    The Met Office forecast for my area is wrong 90% of the time and badly wrong at that but I can get an accurate forecast from ForecastFox in the USA. If they can get it right why can't the Met Office.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Today it will mostly be cold with the odd chance of a meteorite flying past, tune into the next broadcast in 1000 years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    They should concentrate on getting their terrestial forecasrs right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    Will this warn people when their homes are going to get flooded, will it stop greedy builders putting houses on flood planes. will it tell me if I can buy tickes for all five days of a test match? if the answer in no to any of the above its a waste of time and money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    They might occasionally slip up but they can only make predictions based on the info the have - it's not as if they're just not trying hard enough!
    That's the problem, like the IPCC, build models on flawed scientific premise.... C02 and weather drives weather you get flawed results.

    There are others like Piers Corbyn who make the MO look like a bunch of cowboys.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    This is a disgrace, they're cutting too far and too fast The Condems are in a race to the bottom and are out of touch with the rest of us suffering a catastrophic cost of living crisis.

    Just thought I'd get that off my chest.

    Merry Christmas.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    "I am trying to forecast why the beeb think viewer ratings for Dr Who is the third most important story in the world."
    To be fair, they did put the world's most snorable sport in second place with Australia vs England !

    The world's news makers must be out in the Boxing Day sales ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    If you want to know the weather you simply have to know where you are on those wonderful animated weather maps and pay attention.

    I do hope I am not expected to know where I am in 3D space. Ooo-er Missus.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    The Met Office will aim to develop better ways of predicting space weather in collaboration with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
    So, basically we pay the US for this information which is of little/limited use.

    A bunch of self serving muppets springs to mind?

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    I wonder if all of you naysayers will feel the same way when your satnav and satelite tv etc. stop working.


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