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Space Climate and the Military Decision Making Process in Solar Cycle 24

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January 2008 was the beginning of a new solar cycle called solar cycle 24. In this new 11 year cycle, as with all solar cycles, the sun will have an increase in magnetic activity until the maximum is reached in about 2012 or 2013, and then decrease until about 2019 when minimum will be reached. This type of dynamic activity in the sun has been visibly manifested for centuries in the number of sunspots on the sun, with the maximum of the cycle corresponding to the maximum of the number of sunspots. The maximum of solar cycle 24 will possibly have a peak 30-50 percent greater than the peak of solar cycle 23 as depicted in Figure 1 Dikpati, et al, 2006 Phillips and Hathaway, 2006, and thus it will possibly be an intense cycle for geomagnetic storms. As mentioned, these cycles have been the object of study for scientists for centuries. What has not occurred in centuries past however is the analysis of the solar cycle and its impact on military operations. This is obvious since no military operations have needed to incorporate the solar cycle and its dynamics into planning since it generally had no effect on operations. Times have changed and the military has extensively utilized Space assets in operations for approximately the last twenty years. Thus for two solar cycles, specifically cycles 22 and 23, we have incorporated Space weather into mission analysis. Weather in general has had significant impact on operations since warfare began either benefiting one force or the other. The following are just a few examples of such operational impacts created by weather conditions. In 1915, German forces use of poison gas and wind blew the chemicals back onto German lines and destroyed four Prussian regiments. In 1944, the D-Day weather forecast was for conditions favorable to air, sea and ground operations together a rare event.

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  • Astrophysics
  • Space Warfare
  • Astronautics

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