Space Environment Center
The Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), formerly the Space Environment Center (SEC), is a laboratory and service center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration , pronounced , like "noah", is a scientific agency within the United States Department of Commerce focused on the conditions of the oceans and the atmosphere...
(NOAA) National Weather Service
National Weather Service
The National Weather Service , once known as the Weather Bureau, is one of the six scientific agencies that make up the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States government...
(NWS) located in Boulder, Colorado
Boulder is the county seat and most populous city of Boulder County and the 11th most populous city in the U.S. state of Colorado. Boulder is located at the base of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of...
. SWPC continually monitors and forecasts Earth's space environment
Space environment is a branch of astronautics, aerospace engineering and space physics that seeks to understand and address conditions existing in space that affect the operation of spacecraft...
, providing solar
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...
information. SWPC is the official source of space weather
Space weather is the concept of changing environmental conditions in near-Earth space or thespace from the Sun's atmosphere to the Earth's atmosphere. It is distinct from the concept ofweather within the Earth's planetary atmosphere...
alerts and warnings for the United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
The Space Weather Prediction Center is one of the nine National Centers for Environmental Prediction
National Centers for Environmental Prediction
The United States National Centers for Environmental Prediction delivers national and global weather, water, climate and space weather guidance, forecasts, warnings and analyses to its Partners and External User Communities...
(NCEP) and provides real-time monitoring and forecasting of solar and geophysical events, conducts research in solar-terrestrial physics, and develops techniques for forecasting solar and geophysical disturbances. The SWPC Forecast Center is jointly operated by NOAA and the U.S. Air Force and is the national and world warning center for disturbances that can affect people and equipment working in the space
Outer space is the void that exists between celestial bodies, including the Earth. It is not completely empty, but consists of a hard vacuum containing a low density of particles: predominantly a plasma of hydrogen and helium, as well as electromagnetic radiation, magnetic fields, and neutrinos....
environment. SWPC works with many national and international partners who contribute data and observations.
A few of the agencies and industry that rely on SWPC services:
- U.S. power grid infrastructure
- Commercial airline industry
- Department of TransportationUnited States Department of TransportationThe United States Department of Transportation is a federal Cabinet department of the United States government concerned with transportation. It was established by an act of Congress on October 15, 1966, and began operation on April 1, 1967...
(use of GPS)
- NASANASAThe National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...
human space flight activities (NASA relies on SWPC data to protect the $1 billion arm on the International Space StationInternational Space StationThe International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...
- Satellite launch and operations
- U.S. Air Force operational support
- Commercial and public users (more than half a million hits per day on SWPC web sites)
- Some Economic Impacts of Space Weather:
The Federal Aviation Administration
Federal Aviation Administration
The Federal Aviation Administration is the national aviation authority of the United States. An agency of the United States Department of Transportation, it has authority to regulate and oversee all aspects of civil aviation in the U.S...
requires dispatchers to take into consideration HF communication degradation for each dispatched polar flight. Flights can be diverted based on SWPC solar radiation alerts if air traffic control communication is compromised, with estimated costs as high as $100K per flight. A 23-day period in 2001 saw 25 flights diverted due to such radio blackouts.