Sun to Mud: Space Weather
Assistant Director, Center for Atmospheric and Space Sciences
Utah State University
Today we appreciate that space weather has impacts, mainly adverse, on the ground, in the air, and in space. The impacts are felt by both humans and their technologies. On a less firm base, but none the less relevant to present day climate change debates, is the question of whether space weather/climate is a contributing factor. This debate is not new! The astronomer William Herschel in 1801 suggests that the failure of the European wheat harvest during the mini ice-age were in fact caused by a period of solar inactivity!
At Utah State University a team of ionospheric researches have pioneered the use of data assimilation techniques to create the first "Global Assimilation of Ionospheric Measurements" (GAIM) models to be used by the US Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA).
In this presentation the emphasis is on the ionosphere as represented by GAIM. GAIM is probably our most realistic representation of the ionosphere. The ionosphere is but one key link in the Sun to Mud chain of energy propagation, and is a region that leads to significant adverse effects on our radio technologies. Of these technologies the Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) system is the most commonly used and appreciated. However, during space weather storms the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) has often become unavailable for hours. This has marked impact on the airline industry and we the travelers! How all this and more are consequences of the ionosphere during Sun to Mud space weather events will be described.