NOAA Issues Another Space Weather Warning: Powerful Solar Flare Erupts


Sept. 9, 2005 - Forecasters at the NOAA Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colo., continue to observe significant flares on the sun Friday in NOAA sunspot Region 808. This is the same region that yielded a powerful X-17 flare on Wednesday - R4, severe radio blackout, on the NOAA space weather scales. NOAA cautions satellite and communications groups are already experiencing problems due to this activity. Other agencies impacted by space weather are at increasing risk for service disruptions. This includes other space activities, electric power systems, high frequency communications and navigation systems such as global positioning systems.

(View of the sun from the NOAA Solar X-ray Imager aboard the NOAA GOES-12 satellite taken Sept. 9, 2005, at 4:58 p.m. EDT. Click here for mpeg animation. Click here to view latest images. Please credit "NOAA.")

The active Region 808 is currently located near the southeast limb of the sun's surface. This region is a large and very complex sunspot cluster, which represents an intense magnetic area of the sun. "Early indications are that these sun clusters are nearly nine times the size of Earth," said Bill Murtagh, solar forecaster at the NOAA Space Environment Center. Murtagh added, "Typically, the larger the size and complexity of sun clusters, the more potential there is for producing significant solar storms."

"We are expecting continued significant solar flares from this region as it makes its passage across the visible part of the sun over the next 11 days," said Murtagh. "Strong to severe radiation storms are possible as well as significant geomagnetic storms, which can cause significant problems to technology in space, as well as electrical power systems on Earth. It is these geomagnetic storms that create auroras, dramatic visual displays in the sky.

"As always, NOAA's Space Environment Center and our partners are monitoring the situation," said Murtagh. Data used to provide space weather services are provided by NOAA, U.S. Air Force, NASA, National Science Foundation, U.S. Geological Survey, the International Space Environment Services and other observatories, universities and institutions.

The NOAA Space Environment Center, one of the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Prediction, is home to the nation's early warning system for solar activities that directly affect people and equipment on Earth and in space. SEC's 24 hour-a-day, 7 days-a-week operations are critical in protecting space and ground-based assets. Through the SEC, NOAA and the U.S. Air Force jointly operate the space weather operations center that continuously monitors, analyzes and forecasts the environment between the sun and Earth. In addition to the data gathered from NOAA and NASA satellites, the center receives real-time solar and geophysical information from ground-based observatories around the world. NOAA space weather forecasters use the data to predict solar and geomagnetic activity and issue worldwide alerts of extreme events.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA Space Environment Center

NOAA Space Weather Scales

NOAA Solar X-ray Imager

Media Contact:
Carmeyia Gillis, NOAA Space Environment Center, (301) 763-8000 ext. 7163

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