Are there any resources (books/links) that discuss the mathematical tools and methods used to forecast the aurora borealis activity in a particular location?

I see many websites that claim to predict aurora, but are there any open source code that lets you have an idea of the models?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Have a read of NOAA's Space Weather Prediction pages, especially the bit about models. Maybe you will have more specific questions after reading a bit more about it. $\endgroup$
    – kwinkunks
    Sep 16, 2015 at 20:03
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, but um, where is the forecasting formula? Or is it not public? $\endgroup$
    – Victor
    Sep 17, 2015 at 0:09

1 Answer 1


One model is the OVATION auroral precipitation model.

OVATION stands for Oval Variation, Assessment, Tracking, Intensity, and Online Nowcasting.

The NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center uses the OVATION Prime model for their 30-minute aurora forecast. They use a modified version of the model for their 3-day forecast. It was devised by Newell et al. (2010) at Johns Hopkins University.

You can read all about it in Machol et al. (2013). The paper is open access and contains several equations and a description of the method. They explain:

The OVATION Prime model is derived from electron and proton flux measurements from the SSJ4 detectors on the DMSP satellites.

SSJ4 sensors, according to one source:

[...consist] of an array of four cylindrical, curved plate, electrostatic analyzers configured into two pairs; one pair each to measure electrons and ions. Each pair covers the energy range from 30 eV to 30 keV in 20 channels spaced at equal intervals in energy on a logarithmic scale.


Machol, J. L., J. C. Green, R. J. Redmon, R. A. Viereck, and P. T. Newell (2012), Evaluation of OVATION Prime as a forecast model for visible aurorae, Space Weather, 10, S03005, doi:10.1029/2011SW000746.

Newell, P. T., T. Sotirelis, and S. Wing (2010a), Seasonal variations in diffuse, monoenergetic, and broadband aurora, J. Geophys. Res., 115, A03216, doi:10.1029/2009JA014805.


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