Space Weather Forecasts
A ferocious tsunami, spawned by one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded, slammed Japan’s eastern coast March 11, 2011, killing hundreds of people as it swept away boats, cars and homes while widespread fires burned out of control. The event left thousands dead, injured or missing, and millions more affected by lack of electricity, water and transportation. Search-and-rescue teams from several countries joined Japanese forces to aid in recovery efforts.
The USTAR Space Weather Center at Utah State University assisted the Japanese disaster relief efforts by providing data maps outlining the best frequencies for radio communication within the islands of Japan. Storms in space, specifically in the ionosphere, can adversely impact communication and complicate the coordination of rescue teams.
The Space Weather Center was able to accurately interpret how space weather impacted high frequency communication used in disaster relief efforts in Japan. Maps of Japan were updated with real-time communication data specifying which frequencies were best to use for high frequency radio communication.
“During times of disaster management, communication connections are important to maintain,” said W. Kent Tobiska, director of the Space Weather Center at Utah State University. “Our goal was to provide information that allowed volunteers assisting with the relief effort to communicate in a timely fashion to best help the people of Japan.”
About Dr. Tobiska
Dr. Kent Tobiska received his bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Colorado and is now director of the Utah State University USTAR Space Weather Center. He is also president and chief scientist of Space Environment Technologies. His long-term research focus has been the analysis of solar data that has led to the creation of an internationally used space weather platform. He invented the world’s first operational computer code for solar irradiance forecasting and has led the effort to integrate space weather systems with broader technology systems.