• A comparison of flare forecasting methods. II. Benchmarks, metrics and performance results for operational solar flare forecasting systems

      Leka, K.D.; Park, S-H.; Kusano, K.; Andries, J.; Barnes, G.; Bingham, S.; Bloomfield, D.S.; McCloskey, A.E.; Delouille, V.; Falconer, D.; et al. (2019-08)
      Solar flares are extremely energetic phenomena in our Solar System. Their impulsive, often drastic radiative increases, in particular at short wavelengths, bring immediate impacts that motivate solar physics and space weather research to understand solar flares to the point of being able to forecast them. As data and algorithms improve dramatically, questions must be asked concerning how well the forecasting performs; crucially, we must ask how to rigorously measure performance in order to critically gauge any improvements. Building upon earlier-developed methodology (Barnes et al. 2016, Paper I), international representatives of regional warning centers and research facilities assembled in 2017 at the Institute for Space-Earth Environmental Research, Nagoya University, Japan to – for the first time – directly compare the performance of operational solar flare forecasting methods. Multiple quantitative evaluation metrics are employed, with focus and discussion on evaluation methodologies given the restrictions of operational forecasting. Numerous methods performed consistently above the “no skill” level, although which method scored top marks is decisively a function of flare event definition and the metric used; there was no single winner. Following in this paper series we ask why the performances differ by examining implementation details (Leka et al. 2019, Paper III), and then we present a novel analysis method to evaluate temporal patterns of forecasting errors in (Park et al. 2019, Paper IV). With these works, this team presents a well-defined and robust methodology for evaluating solar flare forecasting methods in both research and operational frameworks, and today’s performance benchmarks against which improvements and new methods may be compared.
    • A Comparison of Flare Forecasting Methods. IV. Evaluating Consecutive-day Forecasting Patterns

      Park, S.H.; Leka, K.D.; Kusano, K.; Andries, J.; Barnes, G.; Bingham, S.; Bloomfield, D.S.; McCloskey, A.E.; Delouille, V.; Falconer, D.; et al. (2020-02-19)
      A crucial challenge to successful flare prediction is forecasting periods that transition between "flare-quiet" and "flare-active." Building on earlier studies in this series in which we describe the methodology, details, and results of flare forecasting comparison efforts, we focus here on patterns of forecast outcomes (success and failure) over multiday periods. A novel analysis is developed to evaluate forecasting success in the context of catching the first event of flare-active periods and, conversely, correctly predicting declining flare activity. We demonstrate these evaluation methods graphically and quantitatively as they provide both quick comparative evaluations and options for detailed analysis. For the testing interval 2016-2017, we determine the relative frequency distribution of two-day dichotomous forecast outcomes for three different event histories (i.e., event/event, no-event/event, and event/no-event) and use it to highlight performance differences between forecasting methods. A trend is identified across all forecasting methods that a high/low forecast probability on day 1 remains high/low on day 2, even though flaring activity is transitioning. For M-class and larger flares, we find that explicitly including persistence or prior flare history in computing forecasts helps to improve overall forecast performance. It is also found that using magnetic/modern data leads to improvement in catching the first-event/first-no-event transitions. Finally, 15% of major (i.e., M-class or above) flare days over the testing interval were effectively missed due to a lack of observations from instruments away from the Earth-Sun line.