Research impact: Refining crucial solar weather predictions for a NASA panel

Research by Professor Steve Tobias (LIFD Director) has modified the general standing of dynamo-based prediction schemes and changed the process for predicting long-term solar activity. Professor  Tobias is an expert on dynamo theory: the science behind the generation of magnetic fields in the universe. In 2008 he was invited to present to the Solar Cycle 24 prediction panel in the United States as a consultant.

Professor Tobias says: “There were several competing dynamo theory prediction models that the panel was evaluating, some predicting very high activity but others low. I explained the limitations of these types of models generally in predicting solar activity.”

His information directly influenced the panel, leading to them reversing their initial view from a prediction of high solar activity in the next cycle, to a weak one. When Cycle 24 ended in 2019, that decision was proved to be accurate – it had indeed been a period of low solar activity. His work has modified the general standing of dynamo-based prediction schemes and changed the process for predicting long-term solar activity, with the next panel continuing to use his evidence when predicting activity for the current Cycle 25.

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