Space weather centre for aviation starts operation in Helsinki

7.11.2019 15:26

The global space weather centre led by the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) started its operation today. Information on space weather improves the safety of aviation.

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

The PECASUS space weather centre continuously monitors the state of the Sun and near-Earth space with satellites and ground-based observations. The centre sends space weather advisories to aviation operators when disturbances in near-Earth space exceed thresholds specified by the International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO. The advisories contain information on a space weather storm's severity and impact area on the globe.

"Space weather information enables air traffic management and aviation companies to plan flight routes and schedules safely," explains Ari-Matti Harri, Coordinator of the PECASUS consortium.

Space weather services are necessary for modern aircraft operations as they are increasingly dependent on satellite-based navigation and communication methods. Strong solar storms can affect the performance of aircraft and air traffic management communication and positioning systems. In extreme conditions, storms may also increase the amount of radiation at flight altitudes in polar areas. On the ground, strong solar storms are seen as auroras.

Information on space weather is produced through cooperation between ten countries

The space weather centre led by the FMI provides airspace users with global space weather advisories. The space weather service is provided jointly by operators in ten countries that form the PECASUS (Pan-European Consortium for Aviation Space weather User Services) consortium. The consortium headquarters is located at the FMI in Helsinki, and it is the only European space sector organisation that operates globally.

"The fact that the Finnish Meteorological Institute has provided daily weather services for aviation for almost 100 years contributed to the establishment of the space weather centre. The space weather service is only the second global aviation weather service set by ICAO," states Ari-Matti Harri.

The FMI leads the operational and scientific activities of the PECASUS centre. In addition, it is responsible for the quality of space weather advisories and the production of advisories for the global aviation information network. The content of the advisories is compiled by the Belgian space weather centre, Solar-Terrestrial Centre of Excellence (STCE), on the basis of the findings and model results produced by other members of the consortium. The UK Met Office has the capacity to cover for other members of the consortium in the event of disruptions to ensure the high reliability required by civil aviation. The Dutch Meteorological Institute (KNMI) monitors the reliability of the service and collects feedback from clients. Other member countries of the consortium are Germany, Poland, Austria, Italy, Cyprus and South Africa.

 

Further information:

Ari-Matti Harri, Coordinator of the PECASUS Consortium, Finnish Meteorological Institute, tel. +358 50 337 5623, ari-matti.harri@fmi.fi

Kari Österberg, Chief Operating Officer of the PECASUS Consortium, Finnish Meteorological Institute, tel. +358 50 563 8680, kari.osterberg@fmi.fi

Kirsti Kauristie, Chief Science Officer of the PECASUS Consortium, Finnish Meteorological Institute, tel. +358 50 597 8874, kirsti.kauristie@fmi.fi

PECASUS Consortium website

Official flight weather services for the Finnish Flight Information Region