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Non-Space System Operation - Service to auroral tourism sector


A sinister-looking aurora over Iceland
(Photo by D. Necchi).

Interested to see and photograph the aurora? Regional Auroral Forecasts will help you.

Auroras are a beautiful and harmless manifestation of space weather processes. Eruptions on the solar surface can occasionally cause rapid variations in the near-Earth space environment, which are associated with bright auroras appearing at high latitudes and in extreme cases also at middle and low latitudes. Large-scale solar events, such as coronal holes, flares and coronal mass ejections are responsible for the most intense geomagnetic disturbances in the Earth's space environment. Deflections in the geomagnetic field are caused by changing electric currents in the upper atmosphere, which then result in beautiful auroral displays. The Regional Auroral Forecast service (RAF) follows continuously solar activity and variations in the geomagnetic field and can help you decide when it is a good time to put on something warm and go outside to a place with a nice view towards the Northern horizon.

How is auroral light generated ?

Auroral light is generated in the upper parts of our atmosphere with a similar mechanism as the illumination by neon lights: in dilute gas, electrons collide with heavier atoms or molecules and as a consequence the atoms are excited. When the atoms return from the excited state back to their normal state the extra energy is released as light. In the hunt for auroras it is important to be patient and wait until your eyes get adjusted to the darkness. It is good to know that the human eye observes auroras in a different way to cameras. Our eyes see dim auroras as white or grey structures, while cameras with long enough exposure times show the same auroras as green, red or purple. With bright auroras this problem does not exist. Instead the challenge is to be in the correct place at the correct moment. Unfortunately the most beautiful sightings are often quite short-lived, so instead of going in to wake up your friends, be selfish and enjoy the show.

This service is implemented through a combination of products, tools and alerts which can be found through the following tabs along with expert support provided by the teams constituting the SWE Network. Should you require further guidance in the use of this service, or have specific questions about any aspects of the service presented here, don’t hesitate to contact the Helpdesk.


This service page is curated by the ESC Geomagnetic Conditions. For further information, please contact SSCC Helpdesk

The most beautiful manifestation of space weather is the aurora. Several products available here are tailored for the auroral tourism sector and these are grouped under Auroral Visible Imaging:

  • The Aurora forecast service (Regional Aurora Forecast, RAF) by the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI). This product shows a map with the estimated location of the auroral oval and, as supporting information cloudiness predictions. The product also contains features such as a set of three “lamps” which turn to red in the cases where the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued alerts of enhanced Kp values or on solar flares during the recent 2-3 days.
  • Auroral images (Scotland) by the British Geological Survey (BGS). The product provides auroral images for northern UK (Lerwick observatory) taken with basic lens - 2.9mm focal length, f1.6, ~100 degree FOV (BGS AuroraCam)
  • The Auroral data from Kiruna by the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF), containing optical auroral data for northern Sweden during the winter season
  • Aurora nowcast for Greenland by the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). The product contains a map that show the latest estimated position of the polar ionospheric electrojet, and thus the auroral oval in the north.

To assess the Earth atmosphere and geomagnetic environment in more detail, the service include products containing local external magnetic field on ground and local geomagnetic induced geoelectric field.

The products for interplanetary medium at L1 give forecasts and real-time data for solar wind properties.

Interplanetary medium at L1

Interplanetary Magnetic Field (IMF)
  • Near-Earth NRT solar wind (DSCOVR)
     SW/L1
  • Automated Multi Dataset Analysis (AMDA)
     AMDA
  • Statistical long-term plasma products - IMF Bx
  • Statistical long-term plasma products - IMF By
  • Statistical long-term plasma products - IMF Bz
  • IMF - Interplanetary magnetic field archive
     SGIArv
  • IMF Index Nowcast 1-hour
     FORIND
  • IMF Index Nowcast 1-minute
     FORIND
  • SIDC Daily space weather bulletin archive
  • SIDC Latest daily space weather bulletin
Solar Wind Bulk Velocity
  • Near-Earth solar wind forecasts (WSA-Enlil + Ensemble)
  • Empirical solar wind speed forecast
     ESWF
  • Empirical solar wind speed forecast
     ESWF24
  • Solar wind speed forecast (STEREO-A persistence model)
     STA+CH
  • AWARE_NEXT Enhanced 24 hour solar wind forecast
  • Near-Earth NRT solar wind (DSCOVR)
     SW/L1
  • Archive - Solar wind model for Earth [ESWF]
  • Archive - Solar wind model for Earth [STA+CH]
  • Archive - Enhanced 24 hour solar wind forecast [AWR_NXT]
  • Archive - Solar wind model for Earth [WSA-Enlil]
  • Automated Multi Dataset Analysis (AMDA)
     AMDA
  • Statistical long-term plasma products - Solar Wind Speed
  • SIDC Daily space weather bulletin archive
  • SIDC Latest daily space weather bulletin
Solar Wind Bulk Density
  • Near-Earth solar wind forecasts (WSA-Enlil + Ensemble)
  • Near-Earth NRT solar wind (DSCOVR)
     SW/L1
  • Archive - Solar wind model for Earth [WSA-Enlil]
  • Automated Multi Dataset Analysis (AMDA)
     AMDA

Earth atmosphere and geomagnetic environment

Auroral Visible Imaging
  • Aurora forecast service
     FMI
  • Auroral data from Kiruna
     IRF
  • DTU Aurora
  • Auroral images (Scotland)
     BGS
Local External Magnetic Field on Ground
  • Horizontal magnetic rate of change (UK)
     BGS
  • dMag/dt
  • Magnetogrammes from North(West) Europe and Greenland
  • Forecasts of dB/dt
     IRF
  • LDiñ
     UAH
  • LCiñ
     UAH
Local Geomagnetic Induced Geoelectric Field
  • Maps for power and pipeline operators
     FMI
  • Table of modelled GIC
     FMI
  • Pipe-to-soil voltage (PSV)
     FMI
  • Horizontal electric field data (UK)
     BGS
  • Peak Geomagnetically Induced Current (GIC) for Scotland, England, Wales
     BGS
  • Average Geomagnetically Induced Current (GIC) for Scotland, England, Wales
     BGS
  • Peak Pipe-to-Soil Potential (PSP) East Scotland Gas Pipeline
     BGS
  • Average Pipe-to-Soil Potential (PSP) East Scotland Gas Pipeline
     BGS
  • 3-hourly Telluric index (Lerwick, Eskdalemuir, Hartland)
     BGS
  • GIC Index, Bgic for the UK
     BGS

SWE Data is a web application that provides access to a wide range of Space Weather related data sources covering the areas of the spacecraft, ionospheric, and ground effects. SWE Data allows the user to access all data contained in the repository providing analysis and visualisation tools from these disparate sources.

No alert is associated with this service

This section provides links to web pages or resources that are not part of the S2P Space Weather Network or esa.int domain. These sites are not under ESA control, and therefore ESA is not responsible for any of the information or links that you may find there.  

Reference documents

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