Space Weather

Space weather refers to the conditions and processes occurring in space that can potentially produce harmful effects on infrastructure, communications, or humans in space or on ground. Space weather dynamics driven by the solar wind includes rapidly varying magnetic disturbances, intensification and decay of strong charged particle fluxes in the near-Earth space, and strong currents in the ionosphere that induce electromagnetic disturbances on ground. The adverse effects of space weather range from damage to satellites, disturbances in satellite communication and navigation systems, disturbances in radio communications, and disruptions of power grids and systems especially in the high-latitude areas. Radiation effects on humans can be significant for astronauts, but are non-negligible also for crew and passengers onboard high-altitude / high-latitude aircraft.

We study the effects of the large solar eruptions, coronal mass ejections, as they impact the Earth causing the most severe space weather events. We develop high-performance, first-principles based computational models to describe and predict hazardous conditions in the near-Earth space. To achieve predictive capability, the models run considerably faster than real time on mid-size parallel computers, which poses limitations on the resolution and physics included in the model as well as challenges for the numerical solutions. An operative version of the model runs at the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center and is used by power companies, satellite operators and other affected user groups.