Region 5395 of March 1989
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Region 5395 of March 1989

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    The Space Environment Services Center (SESC), located in Boulder, Colorado, is a division ofthe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Environment Laboratory (SEL), and is operated jointly with the U.S. Air Force’s Air Weather Service (AWS). SESC continuouslymonitors, analyzes, and forecaststhe environment between Sun and Earth. Real-time data are acquired from ground and satellite stations around the world 24 hours a day, every day. SESC’s forecasters use these data to specify and predictsolar and geomagnetic activity and to issue global alerts ofextreme events. SEL also conducts research aimed at understanding the solar-terrestrial environment and developing the capability for improved monitoring and forecasting of that environment. Contributorsto this report represent stafffrom across the range ofthe Laboratory’s activities. The Sun goes through cycles of high and low activity that repeat every 10 to 11 years. Based on Wolf numbers (smoothed sunspot numbers) the rise phase ofa cycle—the time between solarcycle minimum and solar maximum—averages 4.3 years, while the decline phase from cycle maximum to the following minimum averages 6.6 years. The frequency of major events approximately follows the rise and fall ofthe solar cycle (Figure 1) (Hirman, et al„ 1988). The present cycle (number 22) began in September 1986 and reached maximum in July 1989. Large solar events and geomagnetic disturbances can affect satellites and people in space as well as Earth-based systems. The activity ofsolar Region 5395 is an example of how events on the Sun can interfere with systems we all depend on. The following sections outline the potential effects oflarge and active sunspotregions and provide examples of how this particular region affected many human-made systems. Figure 2 is a summary plot of the x-ray, energetic particle, and geomagnetic activity for the period 6 March through 19 March 1989, most of which was produced by Region 5395. The effects reported here are primarily those reported to and observed by SESC while the activity was in progress. Most of the services that SESC provided to DOD were funnelled through AWS’s Global Weather Central (GWC) at Offutt Air Force Base, NE, which dealt directly with DOD users. In turn, most effects ofthe March activity on DOD systems were reported back through GWC and were not normally available to SESC; some ofthese reports were classified.
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