UK launches new division to monitor solar storms

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Met Office, the UK’s weather forecast agency, has just launched a new division that monitors out-of-this-world weather conditions, literally. Thanks to a £4.6 ($7.5) million funding from the government, the agency built a Space Weather Center right out of its Exeter headquarters to keep a close eye on solar flares, coronal mass ejections (CME) and geomagnetic storms.

The Met Office has opened a new forecast centre dedicated to so-called “space weather”. The term describes the disruptive influence that storms at the surface of the Sun can have at Earth. The worst of these events can disturb satellites, power grids and radio communications. As with terrestrial weather, the Met Office, at its HQ in Exeter, has been asked to co-ordinate operational forecasting. It has been doing this now for a number of weeks, working with experts across the UK and in the US, which has had a prediction service for many years. Wednesday’s event, led by the Science Minister Greg Clark, formally inaugurated the British centre of excellence.

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