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Mapping the Magnetosphere for Better Space Weather Forecasts

Over at NICS, Hanneke Weitering writes researchers are developing new technologies that could help us plan for castostrophic solar storms. In this effort, Homa Karimabadi, group leader of space plasma simulations at the University of California, San Diego, has teamed up with visualization specialist Burlen Loring of LBNL to create a topological map of Earth’s magnetosphere for global kinetic simulations, allowing them to closely study how space weather affects our magnetosphere.

There is an urgent need to develop accurate forecasting models. A severe space-weather effect can have dire financial and national-security consequences, and can disrupt our everyday lives on a scale that has never been experienced by humanity before,” Karimabadi explains. A geometric storm on the magnitude of the 1859 superstorm narrowly missed our planet in July of 2012. If this particular CME had occurred a few days sooner, our planet would have suffered devastating consequences. Entire nations could be left without power for weeks if such a storm were to happen again.

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