Space Science & Space Physics Editors' Highlights

Looking Down to See Upwards

Hydrological observations of cosmic ray neutrons scattered by water in soil can also provide information on space weather events such as Forbush decreases and ground level enhancements.

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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