The Space Weather Atmosphere Models and Indices (SWAMI) project: Overview and first results

David R. Jackson, Sean Bruinsma, Sandra Negrin, Claudia Stolle, Chris J. Budd, Raul Dominguez Gonzalez, Emily Down, Daniel J. Griffin, Matthew J. Griffith, Guram Kervalishvili, Daniel Lubián Arenillas, James Manners, Jürgen Matzka, Yuri Y. Shprits, Ruggero Vasile, Irina S. Zhelavskaya

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14 Citations (SciVal)


Space weather driven atmospheric density variations affect low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites during all phases of their operational lifetime. Rocket launches, re-entry events and space debris are also similarly affected. A better understanding of space weather processes and their impact on atmospheric density is thus critical for satellite operations as well as for safety issues. The Horizon 2020 project Space Weather Atmosphere Model and Indices (SWAMI) project, which started in January 2018, aims to enhance this understanding by: Developing improved neutral atmosphere and thermosphere models, and combining these models to produce a new whole atmosphere model. Developing new geomagnetic activity indices with higher time cadence to enable better representation of thermospheric variability in the models, and improving the forecast of these indices. The project stands out by providing an integrated approach to the satellite neutral environment, in which the main space weather drivers are addressed together with model improvement. The outcomes of SWAMI will provide a pathway to improved space weather services as the project will not only address the science issues, but also the transition of models into operational services. The project aims to develop a unique new whole atmosphere model, by extending and blending the Unified Model (UM), which is the Met Office weather and climate model, and the Drag Temperature Model (DTM), which is a semi-empirical model which covers the 120-1500 km altitude range. A user-focused operational tool for satellite applications shall be developed based on this. In addition, improved geomagnetic indices shall be developed and shall be used in the UM and DTM for enhanced nowcast and forecast capability. In this paper, we report on progress with SWAMI to date. The UM has been extended from its original upper boundary of 85 km to run stably and accurately with a 135 km lid. Developments to the UM radiation scheme to enable accurate performance in the mesosphere and lower thermosphere are described. These include addition of non-local thermodynamic equilibrium effects and extension to include the far ultraviolet and extreme ultraviolet. DTM has been re-developed using a more accurate neutral density observation database than has been used in the past. In addition, we describe an algorithm to develop a new version of DTM driven by geomagnetic indices with a 60 minute cadence (denoted Hp60) rather than 3-hourly Kp indices (and corresponding ap indices). The development of the Hp60 index, and the Hp30 and Hp90 indices, which are similar to Hp60 but with 30 minute and 90 minute cadences, respectively, is described, as is the development and testing of neural network and other machine learning methods applied to the forecast of geomagnetic indices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Space Weather and Space Climate
Publication statusPublished - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science


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