KHO Auroral forecast service

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The KHO auroral forecast. Left image: Auroral oval mapped onto Earth's surface. Right image: Local all-sky view.

A short description
The above images are generated by the program SvaltrackII. They are updated every 15 minutes. Left image show the size and location of the impact zone of energetic particles from the Sun, i.e. a green circular belt of auroral emissions around each geomagnetic pole. These belts are known as the auroral ovals. Right image shows the local all-sky view of the oval. Sun, moon and satellite or star poistions are also inluded. 5 auroral stations are included in the above animation.

The relationship between the morphology of the auroral oval and the level of geomagnetic activity allows us to develop models of the location of the aurora, independent of the vagaries of auroral observations. In addition, new models have evolved that use data of particle precipitation measured by polar orbiting satellites.

The two methods by Starkov (1994) and Zhang & Paxton (2008) are used to mathematically calculate the size and location of the auroral oval mapped onto a solar illuminated Earth globe. Both models only use planetary Kp index and time as input, which makes them ideal candidates for forecasting aurora.

The predicted Kp value is estimated by the Space Weather Prediction Centre (NOAA-SWPC) using satellites that are located upstream in the solar wind (Sigernes et al. 2011a; 2011b). Note that the prediction time depends data availability (0, 1 or 4 hours).

Mobile phone solutions
The app is available to the public for free. The original android app has been updated and converted by the company Appex.no to work on iPhone and Windows phones. It can be downloaded through Windows Market Place, Apple App Store and Google Play.

Name of mobile app: "Auroral Forecast"

References
F. Sigernes, M. Dyrland, P. Brekke, E. K. Gjengedal, S. Chernouss, D. A. Lorentzen, K. Oksavik and C. S. Deehr, Real time aurora oval forecasting SvalTrackII, Optica Pura y Aplicada (OPA), 44, 599-603, 2011a.

F. Sigernes, M. Dyrland, P. Brekke, S. Chernouss, D.A. Lorentzen, K. Oksavik, and C.S. Deehr, Two methods to forecast auroral displays, Journal of Space Weather and Space Climate (SWSC), Vol. 1, No. 1, A03, DOI:10.1051/swsc/2011003, 2011b.

Starkov G. V., Mathematical model of the auroral boundaries, Geomagnetism and Aeronomy, 34 (3), 331-336, 1994.

Zhang Y., and L. J. Paxton, An empirical Kp-dependent global auroral model based on TIMED/GUVI data, J. Atm. Solar-Terr. Phys., 70, 1231-1242, 2008.

Acknowledgement

We wish to thank the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) - Space Weather Prediction Centre for allowing us to download the predicted value of the estimated Kp index every 15 minutes. The work is financially supported by The Research Council of Norway through the project named: Norwegian and Russian Upper Atmosphere Co-operation On Svalbard part 2 # 196173/S30 (NORUSCA2), the Nordic Council of Ministers: Arctic Cooperation Programme # A10162, and COST action ES0803.