Ensemble Forecasting of Major Solar Flares: Methods for Combining Models

Jordan A. Guerra, Sophie A. Murray, D. Shaun Bloomfield, Peter T. Gallagher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
102 Downloads (Pure)


One essential component of operational space weather forecasting is the prediction of solar flares. With a multitude of flare forecasting methods now available online it is still unclear which of these methods performs best, and none are substantially better than climatological forecasts. Space weather researchers are increasingly looking towards methods used by the terrestrial weather community to improve current forecasting techniques. Ensemble forecasting has been used in numerical weather prediction for many years as a way to combine different predictions in order to obtain a more accurate result. Here we construct ensemble forecasts for major solar flares by linearly combining the full-disk probabilistic forecasts from a group of operational forecasting methods (ASAP, ASSA, MAG4, MOSWOC, NOAA, and MCSTAT). Forecasts from each method are weighted by a factor that accounts for the method's ability to predict previous events, and several performance metrics (both probabilistic and categorical) are considered. It is found that most ensembles achieve a better skill metric (between 5\% and 15\%) than any of the members alone. Moreover, over 90\% of ensembles perform better (as measured by forecast attributes) than a simple equal-weights average. Finally, ensemble uncertainties are highly dependent on the internal metric being optimized and they are estimated to be less than 20\% for probabilities greater than 0.2. This simple multi-model, linear ensemble technique can provide operational space weather centres with the basis for constructing a versatile ensemble forecasting system -- an improved starting point to their forecasts that can be tailored to different end-user needs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number38
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Space Weather and Space Climate
Early online date7 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Ensemble Forecasting of Major Solar Flares: Methods for Combining Models'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this