Below you will find the expected global geomagnetic conditions (Kp) in Abisko.
This is the fastest way to find out what kind of geomagnetic conditions are to be expected over the next 30 minutes and the next 3 days.
It’s important to note that Northern lights are natural phenomena and even you find the best conditions, you may not see them some nights. The Kp-index does not definitively predict the visibility and strength of the Northern Lights.
The Kp-index is the global geomagnetic activity index that is based on 3-hour measurements from ground-based magnetometers around the world. Kp numbers increase from 0 to 9, and as the numbers increase, it means how strong the interaction is.
After the northern lights interact with the earth, they follow a ring-shaped path, which we call the aurora oval. As the KP number increases, the aurora oval expands, which tells us how large the northern lights affect.
The Kp index is used to assess the likelihood of auroras being visible at various latitudes on Earth. When the Kp index is higher, it indicates a greater chance of geomagnetic storms, and as a result, the auroras can be visible at lower latitudes.
Since Abisko and Kiruna are already on the right latitude for the northern lights, we only need the kp-index to be 0 or 1, which are the lowest numbers. We have seen amazing shows on nights with low Kp-index, as well as nights with a high Kp-index but no sign of the northern lights.
For those seeking to observe the northern lights from a southern location (e.g. central Sweden, Stockholm or the Baltic region), the kp can be used as a guide.
Kp is indeed calculated as an average over a 24-hour period, and this average can sometimes be misleading, especially when there’s a significant difference between daytime and nighttime values. Here’s why:
The Kp-index is calculated by averaging the values measured over a 3-hour interval. So, if you have Kp 6 during the day and Kp 0 at night, and you average these values over a 24-hour period, you might indeed get an average of 3. This average represents the overall level of geomagnetic activity during the day and night.
However, this average doesn’t capture the real-time situation. Even though the average is 3, it doesn’t mean that there’s a consistent Kp level of 3 throughout the day and night. At night, when you observe the northern lights or aurora borealis, the Kp value may very. The Kp-index is a smoothed representation of the 24-hour period and may not reflect the specific conditions at any given moment.
Unfortunately, a high KP can disappoint many tourists but you should know that it’s entirely possible to see the aurora borealis at night with a Kp of 0 when the solar activity is quiet in Abisko and Kiruna. On a day with a high KP index, even if you are in a cloudless and dark area, the Northern Lights may not interact intensely and show themselves and you might find many people returning home without seeing any Northern Lights. It’s essential to remember that aurora watching remains somewhat unpredictable and that there are nights when auroras might not be visible despite favorable Kp values.
To get a more precise understanding of the current geomagnetic conditions, it’s essential to check the real-time Kp values or other relevant space weather information.
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