New tool improves forecasts of coronal mass ejections



Coronal mass ejections (CMEs)—explosions of plasma from the Sun that propagate outward in the solar wind—can, if they reach Earth's environment, cause geomagnetic storms and adversely affect satellites, GPS, and other technology. A recently developed analysis tool, currently in operational use at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), helps predict whether a CME will affect Earth's environment and, if so, when the CME will arrive at Earth. The new technique significantly improves real-time estimates of the CME's size, speed, and direction of travel, parameters that are then used as inputs into a comprehensive numerical model of the heliosphere running operationally at the National Weather Service.