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Keywords:

  • SWx Forecasting;
  • Space Hardware;
  • Assessment

Abstract

Space weather forecasting critically depends upon availability of timely and reliable observational data. It is therefore particularly important to understand how existing and newly planned observational assets perform during periods of severe space weather. Extreme space weather creates challenging conditions under which instrumentation and spacecraft may be impeded or in which parameters reach values that are outside the nominal observational range. This paper analyzes existing and upcoming observational capabilities for forecasting, and discusses how the findings may impact space weather research and its transition to operations. A single limitation to the assessment is lack of information provided to us on radiation monitor performance, which caused us not to fully assess (i.e., not assess short term) radiation storm forecasting. The assessment finds that at least two widely spaced coronagraphs including L4 would provide reliability for Earth-bound CMEs. Furthermore, all magnetic field measurements assessed fully meet requirements. However, with current or even with near term new assets in place, in the worst-case scenario there could be a near-complete lack of key near-real-time solar wind plasma data of severe disturbances heading toward and impacting Earth's magnetosphere. Models that attempt to simulate the effects of these disturbances in near real time or with archival data require solar wind plasma observations as input. Moreover, the study finds that near-future observational assets will be less capable of advancing the understanding of extreme geomagnetic disturbances at Earth, which might make the resulting space weather models unsuitable for transition to operations.