Radiation levels during an intense radiation storm on 20 January 2005 as measured from space by NOAA’s GOES 10 satellite (upper panel) and on the ground based on count rates of atmosphere neutrons taken at six sites across the world (lower panel). The vertical dashed black and red lines show when event onset was detected, in this case by ground sensors just one or two minutes before satellite sensors. On this occasion, high radiation levels were detected only in the Antarctic, thus posing little risk to civil aviation but historical records suggest that high radiation levels can occur over busy air routes. Credit: He and Rodriguez, 2018, Figure 2
Source: Space Weather

Solar radiation storms enhance radiation levels in Earth’s atmosphere. There is growing interest in detection of these events because of the recognition that enhanced atmospheric radiation is a significant risk to civil aviation (it can disrupt avionic control systems, and also deliver human radiation doses that may require post-event assessment and advice by medical experts). He and Rodriguez [2018] compare two very different methods for detection of these storms. One is the use of ground-based measurements to detect the enhanced fluxes of atmospheric neutrons produced during such events; the other is use of space-based sensors to detect the enhanced fluxes of solar energetic particles that cause such events (those particles must have sufficient energy (>400 MeV) to penetrate deep to Earth’s atmosphere and generate atmospheric neutrons). The authors show that, when carefully analyzed, the two techniques are evenly matched in terms of the speed with which they can detect these events. Thus they suggest that the development of future monitoring systems should consider both techniques, perhaps combining the two so as to exploit their different strengths.

Citation: He, J. & Rodriguez, J. V. [2018]. Onsets of solar proton events in satellite and ground level observations: A comparison. Space Weather, 16. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017SW001743

—Michael Hapgood, Editor, Space Weather

Text © 2018. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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