Modern societies more and more rely on satellite systems, remote communication networks, and advanced technologies that due
to their sophistication are inevitably sensitive to „space weather", or varying conditions at the Earth and its surrounding space
directly influenced by variable activity of the Sun. So, we must practically learn how to live with ... the nearest star, how to
predict Sun's activity both in the 11- and 22-year solar activity cycle as well as from day to day or even from hour to hour.
Space weather forecast may be as significant for our daily life and consequences of space weather storms as costly as in the case
of atmospheric tornadoes or violent rain-storms. The most important space weather "meteorological" events are Sudden
Ionosphere Disturbances, solar radio wave storms, solar particle radiation storms, enhancement of relativistic electrons in Van Allen belts, magnetic storms and
accompanying ionosphere disturbances, and magnetic substorms.
List of practical consequences of space weather events is long, from an unexpected satellite loss or
permanent loss of radio contact with the satellite, through premature degradation of satellite instruments, sudden damage of solar batteries, or failure of satellite
orientation system, to serious radiation danger for astronauts in space. On the ground, bad space weather is the cause of telecommunication and radio- or
radar-navigation problems, the enhanced corrosion of pipelines and cable lines, serious damages in electrical power transmission systems (at high-latitudes),
problems in sensitive electronics manufacturing, false results of geological campaigns or geodetical surveys, and other errors.
Everyday observations of Sun's activity
are necessary to prepare warnings in the case of increased probability of occurrence of X-ray solar flare or coronal mass ejection. Such observations are done by
fleet of satellites, Ulysses, Soho, Wind, Ace, Trace, and many others. Similarly, ground stations all over the world observe Sun's activity in a range of spectral
emissions. In Poland, optical observations are continued in Bialkow (Wroclaw University), radio observations come from Krakow (Jagiellonian University) and
Piwnice (Torunian University). Experimental and theoretical research activity in the field of heliophysics and solar-terrestrial relations is essential for successful
prediction of solar activity and for better understanding of its potential practical danger.
Magnetic storm. What is it?
Geomagnetic storm is the global disturbance of the Earth's magnetism. Early warning about possibility of such a phenomenon is
used by different branches of industry. Magnetic storm conditions are of great importance for radiocommunication at HF
frequencies (3-30 MHz range). The magnetic storm phenomenon starts usually from the compression of the Earth's
magnetosphere by shock wave propagating in the solar wind (initial phase). During the main phase, plasma convection in the
magnetotail driven by enhanced solar wind electric field produces injections of charged particles into trapped orbits. As a result
of such injections the electrical current builds up, the ring current encircling the Earth in the equatorial plane at altitudes above 2-3
Earth's radii. The increase of ring current causes the depression of magnetic field strength at the Earth's surface. Strongest
magnetic storms follow coronal mass ejections. Other storms are the consequence of fast solar wind from the coronal holes or
longer periods of southward directed interplanetary magnetic field (IMF). Southward directed IMF drives substorm activity. During magnetic substorms the
enhanced plasma convection destabilizes the magnetotail and the magnetic reconnection process takes place. As a result, energetic particles may be injected into
trapped orbits producing the ring current enhancement.
Geophysical Observatory in Belsk (about 40 kilometers apart from Warsaw) gives information about geomagnetic K indices. During strong geomagnetic activity the
ionosphere can be severely disturbed. Ionization level in the ionosphere may significantly increase or decrease below the average values (as predicted for given
season or phase of the 11-year solar activity cycle), also inhomogeneities of electron concentration and spread-F (spread-out of ionospheric F-layer) may develop.
Ionospheric disturbances are monitored by the ionosphere-sounding devices called ionosondes. One of them is Warsaw's ionosonde.
On the base of data prepared with using SRC PAS ionosonde and in other sites in the world
the researches are continuously carried about the unknown ionospheric phenomena, their
modelling for various purposes. If you are interested in subject, please visit our Solar Terrestrial Reports,
in which you can find critical frequencies and altitudes for ionospheric layers E, F1 and F2 and
E sporadic, current forecast and review of ionospheric state for previous day, or longdistance
HF radiocommunication predictions and also predictions for a short distance for Polish area.
Heliogeophysical Prediction Service operates also as the Regional Warning Centre (RWC) of
International Space Environment Service(ISES) providing information and/or distributing it to
the world scientific community.
Since 1997 year in SRC operates the Ionospheric Despatch Centre for the Europe - IDCE.
IDCE has been established as an initiative of the European COST 251 Action (Improved
Quality of Ionospheric System Planning and Operation IITS). IDCE provides the most recent
ionospheric information as ionospheric characteristics, as well as catalogues of ionospherically
disturbed and quiet days, the list of disturbed periods for few hours duration.
Users of forecast
radio and television operators (satellite's communication)
phone communication (interference possibility)
aero and space industry
power societies ( interfered work of power plants)