Progress Through Activity

Amateur Radio Club Inc.



Real Time Space Weather Updates



Space weather impacts radio communication in a number of ways. At frequencies in the 1 to 30 mega Hertz range (known as “High Frequency” or HF radio), the changes in ionospheric density and structure modify the transmission path and even block transmission of HF radio signals completely. These frequencies are used by amateur (ham) radio operators and many industries such as commercial airlines.

There are several types of space weather that can impact HF radio communication. In a typical sequence of space weather storms, the first impacts are felt during the solar flare itself. The solar x-rays from the sun penetrate to the bottom of the ionosphere (to around 80 km). There the x-ray photons ionize the atmosphere and create an enhancement of the D layer of the ionosphere. This enhanced D-layer acts both as a reflector of radio waves at some frequencies and an absorber of waves at other frequencies. The Radio Blackout associated with solar flares occurs on the dayside region of Earth and is most intense when the sun is directly overhead.

Another type of space weather, the Radiation Storm caused by energetic solar protons, can also disrupt HF radio communication. The protons are guided by Earth’s magnetic field such that they collide with the upper atmosphere near the north and south poles. The fast-moving protons have an affect similar to the x-ray photons and create an enhanced D-Layer thus blocking HF radio communication at high latitudes. During auroral displays, the precipitating electrons can enhance other layers of the ionosphere and have similar disrupting and blocking effects on radio communication. This occurs mostly on the night side of the polar regions of Earth where the aurora is most intense and most frequent.

The Solar Cycle

The sun may be 93 million miles (149 million kilometers) away from Earth, but commotions on our nearest star have consequences much closer to home, which is why scientists have a keen interest in studying changes in the sun's activity. The sun's temper varies on an 11-year cycle, typically taking about 5 1/2 years to move from the quieter period of solar minimum, to the more turbulent solar maximum.



GOES Magnetometer: Magnetometers provide realtime data of the local Earth magnetic field at ground level. Sharp deviations in the data could signal the development of geomagnetic activity.

This data is measured by the GOES-15 satellite which does monitor Solar X-Rays. This information is very important in tracking solar flares. Large X-ray bursts cause short wave fades for HF propagation paths through the sunlit hemisphere. Solar flares can also trigger geomagnetic storms which produce aurora and nice openings on VHF.

The K-index, and by extension the Planetary K-index, are used to characterize the magnitude of geomagnetic storms. Kp is an excellent indicator of disturbances in the Earth's magnetic field and is used by SWPC to decide whether geomagnetic alerts and warnings need to be issued for users who are affected by these disturbances.

The principal users affected by geomagnetic storms are the electrical power grid, spacecraft operations, users of radio signals that reflect off of or pass through the ionosphere, and observers of the aurora.

Solar Activity Monitor
updated every ten minutes with the current status

Solar X-rays:

Geomagnetic Field:


About the Solar X-ray status monitor

The X-ray Solar status monitor downloads data periodically from the
NOAA - Space Environment Center FTP server. The previous 24 hours of 5 minute Long-wavelength
X-ray data from each satellite (GOES 8 and GOES 10) is analyzed, and an appropriate level of activity for the past 24 hours is assigned as follows:

Normal: Solar X-ray flux is quiet (<1.00e-6 W/m^2)

Active: Solar X-ray flux is active (>=1.00e-6 W/m^2)

M Class Flare: An M Class flare has occurred (X-ray flux >=1.00e-5 W/m^2)

X Class Flare: An X Class flare has occurred (X-ray flux >= 1.00e-4 W/m^2)


About the Geomagnetic Field status monitor

The Geomagnetic Field status monitor downloads data periodically from the NOAA - Space Environment Center FTP server. The previous 24 hours of 3 hour Planetary Kp Index data is analyzed and an appropriate level of activity for the past 24 hours is assigned as follows:

Quiet: the Geomagnetic Field is quiet (Kp < 4)

Active: the Geomagnetic Field has been unsettled (Kp=4)

Storm: A Geomagnetic Storm has occurred (Kp>4)


Solar x-RAY

X-ray photons travel at the speed of light and are the first indication we receive at Earth of solar magnetic eruptions and the associated flares. These flare related X-rays cause changes to the Earth’s ionosphere and can result in significant degradation of radio communications, including complete black outs at some frequencies, beginning only 8 minutes (time for light to travel from the Sun to Earth) after a flare. 


A geomagnetic storm is a major disturbance of Earth's magnetosphere that occurs when there is a very efficient exchange of energy from the solar wind into the space environment surrounding Earth. These storms result from variations in the solar wind that produces major changes in the currents, plasmas, and fields in Earth’s magnetosphere. The solar wind conditions that are effective for creating geomagnetic storms are sustained (for several to many hours) periods of high-speed solar wind, and most importantly, a southward directed solar wind magnetic field (opposite the direction of Earth’s field) at the dayside of the magnetosphere. This condition is effective for transferring energy from the solar wind into Earth’s magnetosphere.

During storms, the currents in the ionosphere, as well as the energetic particles that precipitate into the ionosphere add energy in the form of heat that can increase the density and distribution of density in the upper atmosphere, causing extra drag on satellites in low-earth orbit. The local heating also creates strong horizontal variations in the in the ionospheric density that can modify the path of radio signals and create errors in the positioning information provided by GPS. While the storms create beautiful aurora, they also can disrupt navigation systems such as the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and create harmful geomagnetic induced currents (GICs) in the power grid and pipelines.


 Westlakes Club News  VK2ATZ broadcast Sunday's 9.00hrs on the VK2RTZ Repeater on 146.775MHz
Westlakes Amateur Radio Club Inc. York Street, Teralba NSW