Up in Their Game: FMI Boosts the Accuracy of Northern Light Service, Big Time!

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The Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) has updated its real-time products serving those who wish to see the aurora borealis, including the magnetic activity map and the bar chart showing the history of the day, said the FMI in a press release on Wednesday.

When the northern lights light up the sky, increased fluctuation is usually measured in the magnetic field on the earth's surface. Real-time monitoring of magnetic activity based on this has served as a product indicating the likelihood of the appearance of the aurora already for about 20 years.

Some improvements have now been introduced at the aurora borealis service. The principle is unchanged: growing variations in the magnetic field reveal an increase in the likelihood of the appearance of the aurora.

The most recent values that have been measured are displayed on a map and the daily history is shown in a bar chart for each observation station.

The most important change is that the FMI has redefined the threshold values used for reporting a growing likelihood of the aurora.

To set the threshold values the FMI used 146,747 pictures from aurora borealis cameras from Kevo, Muonio, and Hankasalmi.

The pictures showed 463 hours of aurora displays, also containing moments of dark sky, which was important for acquiring statistical material also on the kinds of activity levels that usually do not involve the aurora.

The higher threshold value was largely equal in its significance to the previous one: when it is exceeded, an imposing aurora is likely to appear. This is why the columns and the markings on the map are coloured red when the higher threshold is exceeded, as was done previously when the only threshold was crossed.

As a new feature the FMI introduced is the use of a lower threshold; when it is crossed, the columns and the markings on the map are coloured yellow. When the lower level is exceeded, but the higher one is not, the appearance of an aurora is quite possible, but it is usually dim and subdued. Each monitoring location still needs its own threshold values which are presented in the form of horizontal lines in the bar chart.

The change also involved the way that the activity index is calculated. It is called the R-index, where “R” refers to revontuli – the Finnish word for the aurora borealis. The R-index describes the speed of change in the magnetic field, but it does not directly involve physical units. The value of the R-index is usually in the tens or hundreds, which means that it can be conveniently reported as an integer.

The R-index is calculated at intervals of five minutes instead of ten minutes, as was done in the previous activity index. This means that the service is now closer to real time than it was before.

The accessibility of the service has also been improved. The yellow markings on the map have been changed to squares and the red ones are shaped as rhombuses, which means that identifying the different levels no longer depends on colour alone.

Source: www.dailyfinland.fi

14 Comments
  1. EmilySmith67 says

    As a nature enthusiast, I appreciate FMI’s dedication to enhancing the accuracy of the Northern Light Service. The updates to the real-time products, especially the magnetic activity map and daily bar chart, will provide valuable insights for aurora watchers like me. It’s impressive how they have refined the threshold values based on extensive data analysis. Looking forward to more breathtaking aurora displays!

  2. EmilySmith88 says

    Could you provide more details on how the FMI determined the new threshold values for the aurora borealis likelihood?

    1. JohnDoe77 says

      Hey EmilySmith88! The FMI determined the new threshold values by analyzing 146,747 pictures from aurora borealis cameras and considering 463 hours of aurora displays, including moments of dark sky for statistical material. The higher threshold value remains largely equal in significance to the previous one. Hope this helps clarify it for you!

  3. Emily_1987 says

    The Finnish Meteorological Institute has really stepped up their game with the updates on the aurora borealis service. It’s great to see the improvements in real-time monitoring and the use of more accurate threshold values based on extensive data analysis.

  4. Laura92 says

    As a passionate amateur astronomer, I am thrilled to see the Finnish Meteorological Institute making these advancements in their aurora borealis service. The new threshold values based on such extensive data collection will surely enhance the accuracy of predicting the appearance of the aurora. Can’t wait to witness the northern lights with even more precision!

  5. MaggieSmith78 says

    As a frequent viewer of the aurora borealis, I’m thrilled to hear about FMI’s accuracy improvements! It’s essential for us to have reliable information on the likelihood of seeing these mesmerizing lights. The new threshold values based on extensive data analysis give me confidence in planning my aurora hunting trips.

  6. LenaSmith says

    As a regular viewer of the aurora borealis, I appreciate the FMI’s efforts to enhance the accuracy of their service. It’s fascinating how real-time monitoring of magnetic activity can predict the appearance of these magical lights in the sky. The use of data from aurora borealis cameras for redefining threshold values is a smart move. Can’t wait to witness more breathtaking aurora displays thanks to these improvements!

  7. EmilySmith92 says

    As an avid aurora borealis enthusiast, I’m thrilled to see the Finnish Meteorological Institute enhancing their service! The improved accuracy and updated threshold values will undoubtedly make it easier for us to predict and enjoy the breathtaking northern lights displays. Kudos to FMI for truly upping their game in providing this valuable real-time information to aurora chasers!

  8. EmilySmith says

    As a sky enthusiast, I am thrilled to hear about the FMI’s updates to their aurora borealis service. The improved accuracy in predicting the appearance of the aurora based on magnetic field variations is truly impressive. Can’t wait to witness the northern lights with even more certainty!

  9. MeganSmith01 says

    Has the Finnish Meteorological Institute made any changes to the way they collect data for the aurora borealis service, or is it mainly focused on redefining the threshold values?

    1. MichaelJones09 says

      Hi MeganSmith01, from the article, it seems that the Finnish Meteorological Institute has indeed made some changes to the way they collect data for the aurora borealis service. They have redefined the threshold values by using a large number of pictures from aurora borealis cameras to better indicate the likelihood of the aurora. So it’s not just about redefining thresholds but also enhancing the data collection process. Exciting updates!

  10. EmilySmith says

    How will these updated threshold values impact the accuracy of aurora borealis prediction compared to the previous ones?

    1. PeterJones says

      The updated threshold values introduced by the FMI have significantly improved the accuracy of aurora borealis prediction compared to the previous ones. By redefining these values based on extensive data from aurora borealis cameras, the FMI has enhanced the reliability of forecasting the likelihood of aurora appearances. This translates to a more precise indication for enthusiasts eager to witness the mesmerizing phenomenon in the night sky.

  11. Alice Smith says

    Absolutely fascinating update from FMI on enhancing the accuracy of the Northern Light service! It’s amazing how technology is improving our understanding of auroras. Can’t wait to see the results of these changes!

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