Super Dual Auroral Radar Network

Our international scientific radar network consists of 35 high frequency (HF) radars located in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
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The Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) is a global network of scientific radars monitoring conditions in the near-Earth space environment. SuperDARN Canada, which has its headquarters at the University of Saskatchewan, is the Canadian contribution to the international SuperDARN program.

The radars are synchronized to scan together, allowing researchers to monitor space weather conditions in the Earth’s magnetosphere—the magnetic bubble that protects the Earth from direct impact by the solar wind. Changes in the speed and density of the solar wind, as well as the direction of the interplanetary magnetic field, affects the motion of charged particles in the Earth’s magnetosphere and ionosphere. These changes are connected to disturbances in space that produce both beautiful displays of the northern lights and detrimental effects on Earth affecting important modern infrastructure including satellites, power grids, pipelines, radio communications and space station radiation hazards. The data collected by SuperDARN worldwide, the analysis of this data, and the resulting information, contributes to the scientific understanding of space weather that has the potential to provide tangible benefits, implications, and impact across many sectors; including radio and satellite communication, pipelines and power grids.

SuperDARN Canada

  • SuperDARN Canada operates five radars located in Canada at Saskatoon, SK; Prince George, BC; Rankin Inlet, NU; Inuvik, NWT; and Clyde River, NU.
  • Each SuperDARN Canada radar scans more than 4000 square kilometers every minute, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
  • 2018 is the 25th anniversary (started in 1993)
  • SuperDARN adheres to an open data policy, with data from all 35 radars worldwide shared by all SuperDARN partners and available to the public.
  • There have been more than 800 SuperDARN journal articles published from over 30 countries. More than 200 of these papers involve researchers at Canadian institutions.

A Brief History

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Scandinavian Twin Auroral Radar Experiment (STARE) very high frequency (VHF) coherent scatter radars were used to study field aligned E region ionospheric irregularities. Using two radars with overlapping fields of view, it was possible to determine the 2D velocity vector of E region ionospheric plasma flow.However, irregularities were only observed when the radar wavevector was perpendicular to the magnetic field in the scattering region. This meant that there was a problem with operating at VHF since VHF frequencies don't allow for very much refraction of the transmitted radar wave vector; thus, the perpendicularity requirement could not be easily met at high latitudes. At HF frequencies, however, refraction of the radar wavevector is greater, and this allows for the perpendicularity requirement to be met at high latitudes. Refraction of radio waves in the ionosphere is a complicated non-linear phenomenon governed by the Appleton–Hartree equation.

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