Collaborative Research: Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) Operations, Research and Community Support

Project: Research project

Project Details


Space weather is the result of the coupling of energy from the solar wind into geospace and the myriad interactions between electric fields and charged particles with the geomagnetic field and neutral atmosphere. The resulting variability and disturbed conditions leads to harmful impacts on technological systems and even to risk to humans. Scientific imperatives and practical concerns converge in making space weather a rising priority for society and national planners. This collaborative project provides support for a consortium of four U.S. universities to continue the operations of a suite of High Frequency coherent-backscatter radars within the NSF Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences (AGS). This extension will enable a broad range of research across the space science community. The U.S. consortium functions as part of the international Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) which encompasses more than 35 radars distributed from mid through high to polar latitudes in both the northern and southern hemispheres. The leveraged benefits of the activities include student participation in the engineering and scientific tasks required to operate the network and to achieve the desired data products.

SuperDARN is well known for producing maps of the large-scale circulation of ionospheric plasma that can be compared in terms of scientific significance and practical utility to maps of winds and pressure systems in tropospheric weather. The radars observe a wide range of effects in the coupled magnetosphere-ionosphere thermosphere system that bear directly on understanding and modeling space weather events. The award will continue a program of continued observations while also achieving significant refurbishment of eleven U.S. radars located in North America and add the operations of two new radars in Iceland that are being built on separate support. It will also enable, with partial funding and by virtue of the availability of data, a broad range of research by the U.S. SuperDARN scientists on such new themes as convection in the inner magnetosphere, subauroral ionospheric convection, and solar flare impacts on the ionosphere. As a consequence of this award, the U.S. research community will be supplied with data from the entire set of SuperDARN radars and assisted in the application of SuperDARN data and data products. The award will provide new data products to the community include mapping of ionospheric plasma convection at much improved spatial resolution and techniques for applying machine learning to geospace datasets. In coordination with international collaborators simplified methods for data access will be developed that meet the emerging requirements by agencies and journals to make data discoverable and interoperable.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date2/1/204/30/21


  • National Science Foundation: $1,242,721.00


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