Comesep's alert system, rather, relies upon a set of semi-automated, networked software modules. They will deliver probabilities derived from input of near-real-time data and intense historical analysis of solar behavior. One sample system module is Hvar Observatory's so-called drag-based model for predicting terrestrial arrival times and impact speeds of CME. The system will issue automatically updated and recalculated reports based on current conditions.
“We are trying to combine empirical aspects with some relatively basic modeling based on physics and analysis,” says Bojan Vrsnak, an astrophysicist at Hvar in Zagreb. Project organizers are crunching existing historical data on CMEs and solar energetic particles back to the middle of the 19th century, including the giant Carrington Event solar superstorm of 1859 that fried telegraph systems. Comesep analysts have already run calculations on dense data from thousands of samples of strong solar events.
While weather forecasters suffer the same unknown that financial performance forecasters do in the sense that past performance is no guarantee of future results, data nonetheless is a fixed point from which to start, Vrsnak says. “Empirical data is the only thing you can rely on. When you see something happening on the Sun, coming toward the Earth, you can at least know what happens at the Sun and what happens on Earth,” he says.
But, he concedes, “the physics behind these phenomena are highly non-linear. Very similar situations have different outcomes; very small things have outsize influences.”