We’re used to hearing Met Office forecasts about the temperature in Torquay or the wind speed in Whistable – but what about storms on 14 Andromedae b?
The Met Office is teaming up with groups of scientists to develop an ‘advance warning system’ for violent space weather close to Earth using its very own Unified Model – a world-leading computer simulation model.
It is also sharing its sophisticated tool with a second team of researchers to provide a ‘forecast’ for exoplanets beyond our solar system.
It means the Met Office can issue early warnings to Government bodies, airlines and the National Grid so they can take steps to minimise the impact of geomagnetic storms, which have the potential to wreak havoc on Earth.
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The Met Office’s Dr David Jackson said: “Space weather can affect the aviation and power industries, as well as a whole range of activities that rely on GPS timing and positioning, radio communication or satellite-based observations.”
And forecaster for the Met Office Dave Britten told Yahoo! News: “It’s not going to be a sunshine and showers on Jupiter forecast. It’s mainly for research purposes to understand how different atmospheres interact with each other. We can warn the government with the information we receive about solar weather, who will then be able to warn the public.”
The project to observe some of the 763 exoplanets outside our solar system for their atmospheric properties was presented at the National Astronomy Meeting today in Manchester.
Dr David Acreman, who is involved in the study, said: “It could be of vital importance in the interpretation of the wealth of observational data on extra-solar planets we expect to come within the next decade.”
He explained that the extreme conditions seen on exoplanets like 14 Andromedae b are ‘unlike anything seen on Earth’, but the Unified Model is capable of handling them.