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Seasons of the Sun in an Age of Discovery

We all live next to a variable star. The Sun changes from day to day, from week to week, from year to year, even from decade to decade. These changes often take the form of colossal solar storms that are powered by magnetic energy and that pose increasing hazards to our technological society. 

However, there is striking regularity in the apparent chaos of space weather—the frequency and severity of solar storms rises and falls approximately every 11 years. This is known as the Solar Cycle and it has been occurring for at least 10,000 years, and likely much longer. 

In this presentation we explore how humanity has come to learn about the Solar Cycle and its earthly impacts through careful observation and inference that has spanned over 2000 years.   And we anticipate what remaining mysteries, spectacles, and hazards await us as we approach yet another solar maximum.


Mark Miesch

Headshot of Mark Miesch

Mark Miesch is a research scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado and NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC). 

As a member of SWPC's solar and solar wind team, he uses computer models to predict when coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and other space weather hazards might impact Earth and how damaging such events are likely to be to our technological society. Additionally, as a research-to-operations specialist, he is always on the lookout for innovative ways to improve the accuracy and timeliness of such predictions through model improvements, data assimilation, ensemble methods, and machine learning. He is also the leading SWPC expert on the solar cycle and the origins of solar magnetism.  

Before coming to SWPC, Miesch was the software infrastructure lead for the Joint Effort for Data assimilation Integration (JEDI), a next-generation data assimilation system for terrestrial weather forecasting developed and maintained by UCAR's Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilation (JCSDA). Miesch has also engaged in extensive fundamental research on the dynamics of solar and stellar interiors, including turbulent convection, hydromagnetic dynamo theory, and numerical modeling.  

He is a graduate of the University of Colorado in Boulder (PhD) and Michigan Technological University (BS).