Space weather may predict future climates

Scientists believe variations in past solar events could help them predict future weather changes.
By Joseph Scalise | Aug 15, 2018
Historic space weather could help researchers better predict future events and atmospheric cycles, a new study in Space Weather reports.

This finding comes from scientists at the University of Warwick, who tracked space weather in solar cycles for the last half century. That then revealed a repeatable pattern in the way space weather activity alters over each solar cycle.

Such cycles occur once every eleven years. During that time, the number of sunspots rises to what is known as the "solar maximum," which then creates more flares. That can also lead tomore extreme weather events on Earth.

By understanding those trends, scientists can better understand and plan for space weather. It will also help them better predict any extreme events such weather may cause.

That is important because, while space weather can interrupt electronics, communications, aviation, and satellite systems all over Earth, it is hard to predict. That is where the new study comes in.

"We analyzed the last five solar maxima and found that although the overall likelihood of more extreme events varied from one solar maximum to another, there is an underlying pattern to their likelihood, which does not change," said lead author Sandra Chapman, a professor from the University of Warwick, according to Phys.org."If this pattern persists into the next solar maximum, our research, which constrains how likely large events are, will allow better preparation for potential space weather threats to Earth."

Beyond better predictions, the study is interesting because it shows the sun's activity is not completely random.

Ground and space observations have monitored the sun and solar wind for almost 50 years. Scientists will next take a closer look at such data to see if they can find the duration and activity levels within each cycle.

"If this pattern persists into the next solar maximum, our research, which constrains how likely large events are, will allow better preparation for potential space weather threats to Earth," added Chapman, according to Astrobiology.

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