About the Australian Space Weather Forecasting Centre - formally known as SWS
The Australian Space Weather Forecasting Centre (formally known as Space Weather Services (SWS) & prior to that as IPS Radio and Space Services (IPS)) is the public face of the Space Weather Capability (SWC) section of the Bureau of Meteorology.
From its office in Adelaide, the ASWFC, monitors and forecasts space weather conditions, which include solar activity, and geophysical and ionospheric conditions.
Space Weather, a catchy phrase that came into common use in 1990s, may sound innocuous, but it offers serious threats to increasingly complex communications and technological systems. Space weather disturbances can interrupt HF radio, damage power grids, threaten satellite transmissions and instruments, including avionics in extreme circumstances, and reduce the life of satellites in low earth orbits. They can even put long- distance pipelines at risk by reducing the efficiency of anti-corrosion cathode systems. As reliance on technology grows, so does the impact of space weather events. The potential impact of solar activity is such that severe space weather events are ranked in the top four serious threats to the UK in its national risk register.
Realising the impact of space weather conditions on various businesses, the Federal government set up the IPS within the Department of the Interior in 1947, previously an activity of the Radio Research Board of the then CSIR (now CSIRO). IPS was moved into the Bureau in the late 60s and then was moved to the Department of Science (1972), Administrative Services (1987) and Industry, Tourism and Resources (1997) before rejoining the Bureau in 2008.
The Bureau of Meteorology manages an extensive network of observatories hosting magnetometers, ionosondes and other sensors around the Australia/New Zealand region and Antarctica to monitor space weather conditions. The ASWFC is a member of International Space Environment Service (ISES), and operates the regional warning centre for the Australasian region.
The ASWFC provides information about space weather through daily/weekly/monthly reports and alerts and warnings as required by the space weather conditions. Many of SWC services are freely available via the SWS website and e-mail subscriptions. To subscribe to or find out more about these services, please visit the subscriptions page.