Solar Terrestrial Activity Report

Activity chart

Last major update issued on October 9, 2012 at 03:50 UTC.

[Solar and geomagnetic data - last month (updated daily)]
[Solar wind and electron fluence charts (updated daily)]
[Solar cycles 21-24 (last update October 3, 2012)] [Cycle 24 progress (last update October 1, 2012) ]
[Solar cycles 1-20]
[Graphical comparison of cycles 21, 22, 23 and 24 (last update October 3, 2012)]
[Graphical comparison of cycles 10, 12, 13, 14, 16 and 24 (last update October 3, 2012)]
[Historical solar and geomagnetic data charts 1954-2006 (last update April 5, 2007)]
[Archived reports since January 2003 (last update October 1, 2012)]

[POES auroral activity level since October 2009 - updated October 7, 2012]
[Solar polar fields vs solar cycles - updated June 27, 2011]

Recent activity

The geomagnetic field was unsettled to major storm on October 8. Solar wind speed at SOHO ranged between 294 and 398 km/s. A moderate solar wind shock was observed at SOHO at 04:31 UTC, the arrival of the October 5 CME. From then and until noon the interplanetary magnetic field was mostly strongly southwards resulting in active to major storm conditions. Since 16:30 UTC the IMF has been strongly southwards causing minor to severe geomagnetic storming. Both USAF and Potsdam reports a planetary A index of 111 for the 00-03h UTC interval on October 9.

Solar flux measured at 20h UTC on 2.8 GHz was 103.4 (decreasing 1.7 over the last solar rotation). The Potsdam WDC planetary A index was 45 (STAR Ap - based on the mean of three hour interval ap indices: 44.9). Three hour interval K indices: 44664355 (planetary), 34764233 (Boulder).

The background x-ray flux is at the class 5 level.

At midnight UTC the visible solar disk had 7 spotted active regions (in 2K resolution SDO images).

Region 11585 [S19W14] was quiet and developed slowly.
Region 11586 [S12E52] was quiet and stable.

Spotted regions not numbered by NOAA/SWPC:
S1962 [N08W46] was quiet and stable.
New region S1967 [N14E38] emerged with a tiny spot.
New region S1968 [N51E04] emerged with a tiny spot at a high latitude. The region appears to have reversed polarities.
New region S1969 [N12W47] emerged to the north of AR S1962.
New region S1970 [S06W61] emerged with tiny spots.

An active region near N14E90 is rotating into view early on October 9. This region was the source of an M2.3 flare at 11:17 UTC as well as several C flares. Another active region just behind the southeast limb produced C class flares late on October 8 and early on October 9 (associated with a CME). Both of the east limb region could produce M class flares.

Coronal mass ejections (CMEs)

October 6-8: No obviously Earth directed CMEs were observed in LASCO and STEREO imagery.

Coronal holes

Coronal hole history (since October 2002)
Compare today's report to the situation one solar rotation ago: 28 days ago 27 days ago 26 days ago

A recurrent southern hemisphere coronal hole (CH539) will rotate into an Earth facing position on October 9-10.

Coronal hole map

The above coronal hole map is based on a method where coronal holes are detected automatically. While the method may need some fine tuning, it has significant advantages over detecting coronal holes manually. The main improvement is the ability to detect coronal holes at and just beyond the solar limbs. Early results using this method for SDO images over a span of several weeks indicate a good match between coronal holes observed over the visible disk and their extent and position at the east and west limbs. Note that the polar coronal holes are easily detected using this method, the extent and intensity of both CHs are consistent with other data sources.


Long distance low and medium frequency (below 2 MHz) propagation along paths north of due west over high and upper middle latitudes is very poor. Propagation on long distance northeast-southwest paths is fair to occasionally good.


The geomagnetic field is expected to be unsettled to severe storm on October 9 due to CME effects. Quiet to unsettled is likely on October 10-11. A high speed stream from CH539 could cause some unsettled and active intervals on October 12-14.

Coronal holes (1) Coronal mass ejection (2) M and X class flares (3)

1) Effects from a coronal hole could reach Earth within the next 5 days. When the high speed stream has arrived the color changes to green.
2) Effects from a CME are likely to be observed at Earth within 96 hours.
3) There is a possibility of either M or X class flares within the next 48 hours.

Green: 0-20% probability, Yellow: 20-60% probability, Red: 60-100% probability.

Active solar regions

Click on image for higher resolution image) Compare to the previous day's image. 0.5k image

When available the active region map has a coronal hole polarity overlay where red (pink) is negative and blue (blue-green) is positive.

Data for all numbered solar regions according to the Solar Region Summary provided by NOAA/SWPC. Comments are my own, as is the STAR spot count (spots observed at or inside a few hours before midnight) and data for regions not numbered by SWPC or where SWPC has observed no spots. SWPC active region numbers in the table below and in the active region map above are the historic SWPC/USAF numbers.

Active region Date numbered
Spot count Location at midnight Area Classification SDO / HMI 4K continuum
image with magnetic polarity overlay
2K 1K
11582 2012.09.25
1     S12W91 0210 HSX     rotated out of view
11584 2012.09.30       S22W82           plage
11585 2012.10.01
9 16 7 S19W13 0170 DAO DSI area: 0250
S1961 2012.10.04       N22W15           plage
S1962 2012.10.04   4 3 N08W46 0010   CRO  
S1963 2012.10.05       S08W24         plage
11586 2012.10.06
1 1 1 S13E52 0080 HSX HSX  
S1965 2012.10.06       S23E08           plage
S1966 2012.10.06       N06W58           plage
S1967 2012.10.08   1 1 N14E38 0000   AXX    
S1968 2012.10.08   1   N51E04 0000   AXX    
S1969 2012.10.08   3 1 N12W47 0000   BXO    
S1970 2012.10.08   2 1 S06W61 0000   AXX    
Total spot count: 11 28 14  
Sunspot number: 41 98 74  (total spot count + 10 * number of spotted regions)
Weighted SN: 26 41 27  (Sum of total spot count + classification weighting for each AR. Classification weighting: X=0, R=3, A/S=5, H/K=10)
Relative sunspot number (Wolf number): 25 34 41 k * (sunspot number). k = 0.6 for SWPC, k = 0.35 for STAR SDO 2K, k = 0.55 for STAR SDO 1K

Monthly solar cycle data

Month Average measured solar flux International sunspot number (SIDC) Smoothed sunspot number Average ap
2011.08 101.7 50.6 59.0 (+1.8) 7.26
2011.09 133.8 78.0 59.5 (+0.5) 12.27
2011.10 137.3 88.0 59.9 (+0.4) 8.28
2011.11 153.5 96.7 61.1 (+1.2) 5.55
2011.12 141.3 73.0 63.4 (+2.3) 3.78
2012.01 132.5 58.3 65.5 (+2.1) 7.15
2012.02 106.5 32.9 66.9 (+1.4)
possible cycle 24 max
2012.03 114.7 64.3 66.8 (-0.1) 16.08
2012.04 113.0 55.2 (64.7 projected, -2.1) 10.10
2012.05 121.5 69.0 (61.8 projected, -2.9) 7.06
2012.06 119.6 64.5 (59.9 projected, -1.9) 10.08
2012.07 133.9 66.5 (60.0 projected, +0.1) 13.90
2012.08 115.4 63.1 (62.0 projected, +2.0) 7.96
2012.09 122.9 61.5 (63.6 projected, +1.6) 8.07
2012.10 109.3 (1) 13.3 (2A) / 51.6 (2B) / 51.8 (2C) (63.5 projected, -0.1) (14.0)

1) Running average based on the daily 20:00 UTC observed solar flux value at 2800 MHz.
2A) Current impact on the monthly sunspot number based on the Boulder (NOAA/SWPC) sunspot number (accumulated daily sunspots / month days). The official SIDC international sunspot number is typically 30-50% lower. 2B) Month average to date. 2C) STAR SDO 1K Wolf number 30 day average.
3) Running average based on the quicklook and definitive Potsdam WDC ap indices. Values in red are based on the definitive international Potsdam WDC ap indices.

This report has been prepared by Jan Alvestad. It is based on analysis of data from whatever sources are available at the time the report is prepared. All time references are to the UTC day. Comments and suggestions are always welcome.

SDO images are courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams.