Solar Stormwatch is a project to map, for the first time, solar storms – eruptions of mass ejected from the sun’s atmosphere.

Led by Dr Luke Barnard and Professor Chris Scott in the Department of Meteorology, its key components are citizen science, open research and worldwide public engagement.

In 2006, NASA launched the twin STEREO spacecraft. With cameras taking images of the sun’s surface, atmosphere and solar winds, the spacecraft were soon producing a huge volume of data that was challenging for scientists to analyse in detail and in a timely manner. Solar Stormwatch plugged the gap, developing web-based, real-time activities enabling the public to record storms and work with scientists. Space weather, a natural hazard listed in the government’s national risk register, is now better understood, and the project has generated a number of peer-reviewed publications. Worldwide, more than 16,000 people participate in Solar Stormwatch from 94 countries. The project is ongoing. It has led to a collaboration between the university and the Space Weather Prediction Center in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US, and the creation of new activities to answer new research questions established in this fast-moving, dynamic area of research.

Shortlisted for the University Research Engagement and Impact Awards 2017

First published: June 2017