ARRL

Secure Site Login

News

Solar Flares, Poor Operating Challenge Eritrea DXpedition

03/13/2015

An intense burst of noise from what is being called a “monster X-class solar flare” briefly blanked out HF reception around the globe at around 1600 UTC on March 12, and additional disruptions could be on the way. The March 12 event was an X-2.2 flare. X-class flares can have a nearly immediate effect on Earth. The E30FB DXpedition currently under way from Asmara in Eritrea (number 20 on the ClubLog DXCC Most Wanted List) said current solar conditions have been a challenge.

“We are continuing to work through the effects of the X-class solar flare. Conditions have been fluctuating day to day,” reported the DXpedition, headed by Zorro Miyazawa, JH1AJT. Radio blackouts resulting from solar activity also have been reported this week. NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center has issued a G1 minor geomagnetic storm watch for March 13 and 14. But solar flares are not the main problem at E30FB.

“Our main challenge continues to be out-of-turn calling and poor ham spirit on the bands,” the team said. “Our QSO rates could improve, if everyone would listen and follow the DX Code of Conduct.” As is the case with most DXpeditions, the operators will be operating split and not listening for calls on their transmit frequency. The E30FB DXpedition will continue through March 17 — St Patrick’s Day. It is operating on all bands from 160 to 10 meters. The 7QAA DXpedition in Malawi (number 113 on the ClubLog Most Wanted DXCC List) also is active on HF from Africa.

According to Spaceweather.com, the culprit is active sunspot AR2297, which propelled several minor coronal mass ejections (CMEs) toward Earth earlier this week. Those were predicted to arrive on Friday the 13th, possibly initiating “bright auroras” in the northern latitudes. NOAA forecasters have estimated a 65 percent chance of G1-class geomagnetic storms when the CMEs arrive. G1 storms can cause minor power grid fluctuations and affect satellites.

Amateur radio-astronomer Thomas Ashcraft in New Mexico described the intense HF radio burst on March 12 as “super intense — one of the strongest bursts of the current solar cycle.” He reported the “solar static” dominated a swath of the HF spectrum — mainly from 15 to 26 MHz — for more some 15 minutes. According to Spaceweather.com, the noise was generated by beams of electrons accelerated by an M4-class solar flare. And, Spaceweather.com reported, “more bursts are in the offing.”

NOAA forecasters have estimated a 70 percent chance of M-class flares, which also can cause radio blackouts, and a 20 percent chance of X-Class flares on March 13.

 



Back