Plot showing normalized neutron rates recorded during the space weather events in September 2017.
Normalized neutron rates recorded during the space weather events in September 2017. The thin colored lines show rates derived from seven soil moisture monitors at sites across Canada and the northern United States (locations given in Table 2 of the highlighted paper, following the codes given in the legend of this figure). For comparison, the bold red line shows rates from the conventional cosmic ray monitor at Inuvik in northern Canada. Both monitor types clearly show: first, the large Forbush decrease caused by passage of a coronal mass ejection on 8 September, and, later, the enhanced atmospheric radiation levels caused by a solar radiation storm on 10 September. Credit: Hands et al. [2021], Figure 17
Source: Space Weather

Hands et al. [2021] provide a great example of how teams in the space weather community are seeking to exploit space-weather-generated signals in instrument sensors designed for other purposes. In this case, those sensors observe cosmic ray neutrons scattered by water in soil (so as to estimate the moisture content of soil). But, as studied here, those sensors can also observe changes in cosmic ray fluxes caused by space weather effects (for example, ground-level enhancements, Forbush decreases, and possibly also terrestrial gamma-ray flashes).

In this paper, a team of space weather and hydrological experts have worked together to explore how to adapt existing networks of cosmic-ray soil moisture monitors for dual use so that they also provide valuable data for space weather purposes. It shows how inter-disciplinary working can expand the range of data available for monitoring space weather and assessing the adverse impacts of future space weather events.

Citation: Hands, A. D. P., Baird, F., Ryden, K. A., Dyer, C. S., Lei, F., Evans, J. G., et al. [2021]. Detecting ground level enhancements using soil moisture sensor networks. Space Weather, 19, e2021SW002800.

—Michael A. Hapgood, Editor, Space Weather

Text © 2021. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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