BOX 3.2

Space Environment Center

The Space Environment Center (SEC)a monitors and forecasts Earth’s space environment. It is an example of an NWS center that successfully engages its users, works with users to enhance existing products and develop new products, and conscientiously estimates and includes uncertainty and verification information with its forecasts.

The SEC has created a culture and infrastructure that provides quantitative uncertainty information, real-time and historical verification information, and comprehensive product descriptions. Examples of official SEC forecast products that explicitly provide uncertainty information include Geomagnetic Activity Probability forecasts, whole disk flare probabilities, and explicit error bars on graphical and text forecasts of sunspot number. Uncertainty and verification information are explicitly available both for model (or guidance) forecasts and for official forecasts. For example, guidance forecasts from the Costello Geomagnetic Activity Index model include both error bars and an indication of recent model performance by plotting a time series of recent forecasts along with their verifying observations (e.g., Figure 3.1). The SEC has a Web site for communicating the verification statistics of its official (human-produced) forecast products.b On this site the geomagnetic index and short-term warning products are verified using contingency tables (hit rate, false alarm rate, etc.), and the geomagnetic probability forecasts are verified using measures like ranked probability score (and are compared with scores from climatology), reliability, and resolution.

FIGURE 3.1 Model forecast (symbol and bar) and verification (solid line) of the Kp geomagnetic activity index. Note the error bars on the Kp forecast. Historical verification information is available through the associated Web site. SOURCE: SEC Web site, http://www.sec.noaa.gov/index.html.



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