Solar activity: nowcasting and forecasting at the SIDC
Abstract. The Solar Influences Data analysis Center (SIDC) is the World Data Center for the production and the distribution of the International Sunspot Index, coordinating a network of about 80 stations worldwide. From this core activity, the SIDC has grown in recent years to a European center for nowcasting and forecasting of solar activity on all timescales. This paper reviews the services (data, forecasts, alerts, software) that the SIDC currently offers to the scientific community. The SIDC operates instruments both on the ground and in space. The USET telescope in Brussels produces daily white light and Hα images. Several members of the SIDC are co-investigators of the EIT instrument onboard SOHO and are involved in the development of the next generation of Europe's solar weather monitoring capabilities. While the SIDC is staffed only during day-time (7 days/week), the monitoring service is a 24 h activity thanks to the implementation of autonomous software for data handling and analysis and the sending of automated alerts. We will give an overview of recently developed techniques for visualization and automated analysis of solar images and detection of events significant for space weather (e.g. CMEs or EIT waves). As part of the involvement of the SIDC in the ESA Pilot Project for Space Weather Applications we have developed services dedicated to the users of the Global Positioning System (GPS). As a Regional Warning Center (RWC) of the International Space Environment Service (ISES), the SIDC produces daily forecasts of flaring probability, geomagnetic activity and 10.7 cm radio flux. The accuracy of these forecasts will be investigated through an in-depth quality analysis.