TITLE:   FLARECAST – Flare Likelihood and Region Eruption Forecasting

FUNDING AGENCY:   EC Horizon 2020, Research and Innovation Action, Protec-1-2014: Space Weather

GRANT AMOUNT:   EUR 2,400 000.00

DURATION:   3 years

START DATE:   1 January 2015

CONSORTIUM:   8 institutions from 6 countries

PROJECT COORDINATOR:   Dr. Manolis K. Georgoulis

PROJECT SCIENTIST:   Dr. D. Shaun Bloomfield

PROJECT WEBSITE:   flarecast.eu

KEY WORDS:   Flare Forecasting, Space Weather, Heliophysics, Prediction Algorithms, Machine Learning

Space weather can have detrimental effects on astronaut safety and a multitude of technologies on which we rely on a daily basis. Accurate and reliable space-weather monitoring and forecasting helps those affected, such as satellite operators, to take timely impact-mitigation measures. The main agents of space weather being solar flares and coronal mass ejections, FLARECAST will significantly advance our ability to predict flares prior to their occurrence in the Sun.

FLARECAST will first aim to understand the drivers of solar-flare activity to improve flare prediction. It will then aim to provide a globally and openly accessible flare prediction service that facilitates evolution and expansion. Finally, FLARECAST will aim to engage in a dialogue with space-weather stakeholders, policy makers, and the public on the societal benefits of a reliable solar-flare prediction.

Diverse properties of solar active regions, the birthplaces of large flares, will be treated as flare predictors. These properties will be extracted using advanced image-processing techniques applied to remote-sensing solar observations. Various flare prediction algorithms, some of them featuring artificial intelligence, will highlight a statistically rigorous set of the most promising of these predictors. Flare-forecast probabilities will be benchmarked by means of state-of-the-art validation techniques and will be utilized to launch a fully automated, near real-time flare forecasting service, where the end user will be allowed to perform his/her own tests and produce validated results.

FLARECAST will push the envelope of current understanding of solar active-region properties and their relation to flaring activity. In parallel, a functionally-expandable infrastructure will accommodate flare predictions allowing a simple, but suitably verified, transition of scientific research into an operational space-weather application. The resulting user-friendly, interactive facility, the first of its kind in the world, will be freely accessible to  researchers and operators in Europe and around the globe.