Tracking Solar Flares Space Weather Monitors The Ionosphere Activity Resources Glossary

Resources & Suggestions for Further Activities and Research Projects


Does latitude affect ionospheric response to flares? If so, in what ways?

Students might attempt to compare solar flare signatures from various SID monitors around the world to find out if latitude affects the signatures and hence the ionospheric response to flares. Try comparing the graphs from known solar events with each other and with data from the GOES satellite. You may have to adjust the times to allow the events to line up.

As you compare your data, keep in mind that different monitors will be calibrated slightly differently, thus having their data values show up between -5 and 5, or -2 and 4. It is not the absolute values of the data that are important -- rather the size of the change from the baseline. Students might want to normalize their data, or convert to a common baseline. For instance, they might convert all data into values between 0 and 1. Different sites’ computer clocks might be significantly different as well. Take this into account when matching up flares.

Students start by comparing SID events from monitors at various latitudes. Are the shapes of the responses the same? The timing? The length of the response? How do the responses differ depending upon the transmitter being tracked? How do your data compare with the GOES data?

Unidentified Events?

If you have unidentified signals, then your students may be picking up electrical interference from somewhere or something. Most likely it is a local disturbance caused by somebody turning on a machine nearby. If the disturbance is regular and periodic that’s a big hint that it might be interference. Or, if certain other sites pick up the event as well, then it may have been caused by a large thunderstorm somewhere between the transmitter and receiver. Or, they may have picked up a gamma ray burst. Or, their disturbance might have been related to an auroral storm. Or, it might be worth checking cosmic ray monitors for particles or geomagnetic indices for CME impact effects. To track these down, have students compare their local data with other sites' data, both those tracking the same transmitter and different transmitters. What can they discover based on which sites showed the event and which didn't? Could they "triangulate" to determine the potential ionospheric source of the disturbance? Note that unidentified events might happen in the nighttime as well as daytime.

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