The Sun's activity waxes and wanes nearly every two years. The discovery provides clues that could help improve forecasting of solar storms, which can affect technological systems that society depends on.
A range of observing and modeling tools is helping researchers at NCAR and elsewhere discern previously unmapped links between weather events in various layers of the atmosphere, with implications for aviation, GPS, and other technology society relies on.
A leading goal of solar scientists is to improve predictions of the Sun's approximately 11-year cycle. New research led by scientists from NCAR and Sweden shows how solar predictions can borrow from weather forecasting techniques in order to predict the timing and extent of the solar cycle.
Space debris poses serious risks to a wide array of satellites critical to society. NCAR is part of a collaborative effort to help reduce those risks by modeling the effects of space weather on satellite orbits, helping operators steer spacecraft more accurately around debris.
While the current peak in the 11-year cycle of sunspot activity is on the weak side, the Sun might still produce a major storm at any point. The most dangerous storms are most likely during the waning part of the solar cycle, which will unfold later this decade.
University students and faculty soon will have the chance to peer at day-to-day weather through the same lens used by National Weather Service meteorologists. A new version of the NWS’s workhorse graphics software will reach campuses through UCAR’s Unidata program.
When a geomagnetic storm blasted Earth on January 24, commercial airlines redirected a handful of flights were originally routed to fly over the North Pole. Behind the scenes, NCAR scientists play a role in safety precautions such as these.
A balloon-borne instrument sailing in the Arctic stratosphere in June obtained some of the best observations to date on the high-speed, Sun-driven winds that howl through the thermosphere more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) above Earth.
The Sun drives our climate, so a slowdown in solar activity would surely put the brakes on global warming—wouldn’t it? That question percolated through the media following a set of reports from a solar physics meeting.
The solar minimum that bottomed out from 2006 to 2010 was the longest and deepest since modern space observations began. Among other effects, it reorganized the areas of flux from open magnetic field lines that produce solar wind. NCAR postdoctoral researcher Liang Zhao is using data from the last two minima to revise a model of how open magnetic flux is transported through the solar atmosphere.
An international team of astronomers that includes NCAR’s Savita Mathur has observed mixed waves—a mixture of acoustic and gravity waves—that run all the way to the cores of red giant stars. Astronomers already knew that such waves (known as stellar oscillations) existed, but until now had only observed pure acoustic waves traveling through the outer parts of stars.
One of the most enduring mysteries in solar physics is why the Sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, is millions of degrees hotter than its surface. Now scientists believe they have discovered a major source of hot gas that replenishes the corona.
A new study from NCAR uses an innovative computer model to investigate events called sudden stratospheric warmings (SSWs) in the Arctic atmosphere. The study focuses on how two atmospheric patterns based in the tropics, the El Niño–Southern Oscillation and Quasi-Biennial Oscillation, affect SSWs.