Space Weather Prediction with Cosmic Rays

Clicking any plot below will produce an enlargement.
Scroll down for information about this site, and links to additional online plots.

Spaceship Earth (neutron monitors): left panels

Muon Network: right panels

Spaceship Earth Loss Cone Display and Bidirectional Streaming Display
Muon Network Loss Cone Display and Bidirectional Streaming Display
Cosmic Ray Flow Direction from Spaceship Earth
Cosmic Ray Flow Direction from Muon Network
Spaceship Earth GLE Monitor (Minute Resolution)
Nagoya Muons
Individual Station Count Rates
(7-panel display; only one shown here)
Hobart Muons
São Martinho Muons
Kuwait Muons


Introduction

This Website is a gateway for space weather displays based upon cosmic ray data returned by the Spaceship Earth network of neutron monitors and from the worldwide muon detector network.

The top of the site contains reduced versions of the plots that we consider most relevant for space weather prediction. Click any plot to obtain an enlarged version. As our space weather products are improved and optimized, these plots will change from time to time.

Below is a brief description of the multi-national team providing data for this site. Following that is a listing of available realtime space weather displays based upon cosmic ray data, including a link to the display and a brief discussion of its use for space weather forecasting or specification.

Disclaimer

This is a prototype, experimental site. Use of material on this site for any purpose is at your own risk. We do not guarantee that the realtime displays will be available or up-to-date at all times. Realtime data have not been subjected to rigorous quality control; it may contain "glitches" that produce false alarms or fail to detect true space weather disturbances. Even when the data are good, there may be physical factors that produce false alarms or fail to detect true space weather disturbances.


Participating Institutions

Spaceship Earth

Spaceship Earth is an 11-station network of neutron monitors strategically located to provide precise, real-time, 3-dimensional measurements of the cosmic ray angular distribution. Participating institutions include the University of Delaware, IZMIRAN (Moscow Region, Russia), Polar Geophysical Institute (Apatity, Russia), Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics (Russia), Institute of Cosmophysical Research and Aeronomy (Russia), Institute of Cosmophysical Research and Radio Wave Propagation (Russia), Australian Antarctic Division (Hobart), and the University of Tasmania (Hobart).

For additional information on Spaceship Earth, neutron monitors, and space weather, please visit the home page of the University of Delaware Bartol Research Institute neutron monitor program

The Muon Team

At present the muon realtime data are based on observations from multi-directional muon detectors located in 3 locations: Nagoya, Japan, São Martinho, Brazil, and Hobart, Australia. Participating institutions include the University of Delaware, Shinshu University (Japan), Nagoya University (Japan), Southern Space Observatory of INPE (Brazil), University of Santa Maria (Brazil), Australian Antarctic Division (Hobart), University of Tasmania (Hobart), and the University of Kuwait.


Links to Space Weather Displays (with Brief Explanations)

Spaceship Earth Loss Cone Display and Bidirectional Streaming Display

Muon Network Loss Cone Display and Bidirectional Streaming Display

Important Note: These plots are experimental prototypes. The display format may change as a result of ongoing research to optimize space weather prediction with cosmic rays. Refer here for a brief explanation of the current display format.

DISPLAY FORMAT
Top Panel: ACE magnetic field magnitude |B| (green), north-south component Bz (pink-red) in GSE coordinates, and 1-hour estimated Kp index (blue).
Second Panel:Cosmic ray density determined by fitting a first-order anisotropy to available Spaceship Earth stations (in the case of neutron monitor data) or available directional channels (in the case of muon detector data).
Third Panel (Loss Cone Display): Each circle represents an hourly average of the cosmic ray intensity measured by a single Spaceship Earth station relative to the cosmic ray density (in the case of neutron monitor data) or a single directional channel relative to the cosmic rays density (in the case of muon detector data). Red circles indicate deficit intensity, blue circles indicate excess intensity, and the size of the circle scales with the magnitude of the deficit or excess; see right side of plot for scale. Horizontal axis is time (3 days total displayed), and vertical axis is pitch angle of the station or the directional channel. Pitch angle is the angle between the Sunward magnetic field direction (ACE 1-h average) and the viewing direction of the station or directional channel (median rigidity particle). Here "Sunward" is defined relative to a nominal 45 degree sprial field; a station or directional channel with zero degree pitch angle views particles coming from the Sun along the magnetic field. Stations or directional channels were inter-normalized by means of a 24-h trailing moving average.
Fourth Panel (Bidirectional Streaming Display):Residual deviation after subtracting the fitted first-order anisotropy from each station or directional channel. Red and blue now represent deficit and excess relative to a first-order anisotropy. This plot is thus a display of higher order anisotropies in the cosmic ray pitch angle distribution.

USE OF THIS PLOT
Loss Cone Display (third panel): This plot will sometimes display a cosmic ray loss cone precursor ahead of an approaching CME shock. The defining characteristic of a loss cone precursor is a strong suppression of cosmic ray intensity for particles arriving from the Sunward magnetic field direction. Thus, look for large red circles concentrated near small pitch angles. The physical mechanism behind loss cones is that these particles trace to the region downstream of the shock, where cosmic ray intensity is generally suppressed (Forbush decrease). In major storms, loss cones are often observed about 4 h in advance of shock arrival, and may be observed 24 h in advance in rare cases. Depending upon shock-field geometry, however, loss cones can be difficult to detect, or absent entirely.
Bidirectional Streaming Display (fourth panel):This plot can be used to indicate when Earth is within a large interplanetary CME. Cosmic rays within a large CME often exhibit bidirectional streaming, in a manner similar to the bidirectional electrons observed at much lower energy. Intensity is suppressed near 90 degree pitch angles, and elevated near 0 and 180 degrees. Thus, look for red circles concentrated near 90 degrees, with blue circles on both sides.

Cosmic Ray Flow Direction from Spaceship Earth

Cosmic Ray Flow Direction from Muon Network

Important Note: This plot is an experimental prototype. The display format may change at any time. Refer here for a brief explanation of the current display format.

DISPLAY FORMAT
Top Panel: ACE magnetic field magnitude |B| (green), north-south component Bz (pink-red) in GSE coordinates, and 1-hour estimated Kp index (blue).
Second Panel:Cosmic ray density determined by fitting a first-order anisotropy to available Spaceship Earth stations (in the case of neutron monitor data) or available directional channels (in the case of muon detector data).
Third Panel:Cosmic ray flow direction projected into ecliptic plane, as determined by fitting a first-order anisotropy to data from Spaceship Earth neutron monitors or to data from the muon detector network. The GSE X-axis points toward the Sun (upward in the plot), and the Y-axis points opposite the direction of Earth's revolution about the Sun (leftward in the plot). Each red line segment represents an hourly measurement of the anisotropy, with the base plotted at the time of measurement, and the head oriented according to the direction and magnitude of the anisotropy. We follow the meteorological convention, i.e., arrows point in the direction that the flow is coming from.
Fourth Panel:Cosmic ray flow direction projected into a plane oriented normal to the Earth-Sun line, as determined by fitting a first-order anisotropy to data from Spaceship Earth neutron monitors or to data from the muon detector network. The GSE Z-axis points northward of the ecliptic plane (upward in the plot), and the Y-axis points opposite the direction of Earth's revolution about the Sun (leftward in the plot). Each red line segment represents an hourly measurement of the anisotropy, with the base plotted at the time of measurement, and the head oriented according to the direction and magnitude of the anisotropy. We follow the meteorological convention, i.e., arrows point in the direction that the flow is coming from.

USE OF THIS PLOT

This plot specifies current conditions in the nearby interplanetary medium. It simply tells which way the (cosmic ray) wind blows and how strongly.

Spaceship Earth GLE Monitor (Minute Resolution)

Important Note: This is a plot of nearly raw realtime data, recommended for use only by those familiar with interpretation of neutron monitor data. A display format more useful for nonspecialists is under development.

DISPLAY FORMAT
Pressure corrected 1-minute data from several Spaceship Earth stations and a few other high-latitude stations are displayed.

USE OF THIS PLOT
This plot can be used as an early warning of a large solar energetic particle event. Look for a smooth rise at one or more stations (preferably more) occuring over a period of 5 minutes or more, followed by a (usually) slower decay. Generally these displays will be of interest only during cosmic ray ground level enhancements (GLE) or major Forbush decreases. Most of the time the displayed variations are simply statistical noise. Isolated spikes are probably data glitches and should be ignored if unconfirmed by other stations.

Individual Neutron Monitor Station Count Rates

This plot displays neutron rates at individual stations. It should be self-explanatory. Only McMurdo is displayed above, but clicking the link will transfer to a page where six stations (South Pole, McMurdo, Thule, Inuvik, Fort Smith, and Newark) are displayed in a similar format.

Individual Muon Detector Count Rates: Nagoya, São Martinho, Hobart, Kuwait.

These plots display muon rates for several directional channels at Nagoya, São Martinho, and Hobart. They should be self-explanatory.

Other Cosmic Ray Displays (not realtime)

  • Solar Modulation Plot. Pressure-corrected McMurdo neutron rate (27-day means) along with monthly sunspot number from 1960 to the present. Typically updated monthly.
  • Six-Month Plot. Pressure-corrected count rates for the past 6 months at multiple (~10) stations, along with Kp and Dst. Typically updated daily. (Note: SPoleN is a standard 3NM64 at South Pole, while SPoleB is our "Polar Bare," a 3NM64 without the usual lead shielding. It responds to a slightly lower energy primary cosmic ray than the standard monitor. SpoleN and SpoleB closed on November 22, 2005.)
  • Multi-Year Plot. Pressure-corrected count rates from 2000 September 8 to the present for multiple (~10) stations, along with Kp and Dst. Depending upon your browser settings, you may need to expand the image and scroll to view the entire plot. (Note: SPoleN is a standard 3NM64 at South Pole, while SPoleB is our "Polar Bare," a 3NM64 without the usual lead shielding. It responds to a slightly lower energy primary cosmic ray than the standard monitor. SpoleN and SpoleB closed on November 22, 2005.)

The Bartol Research Institute neutron monitor program is supported by the United States National Science Foundation under grants ANT-0739620 and ANT-0838839, and by the University of Delaware Department of Physics and Astronomy and Bartol Research Institute.

Spaceship Earth is a joint project of the University of Delaware, IZMIRAN, Polar Geophysical Institute (Apatity), Australian Antarctic Division, and University of Tasmania.

The muon detector network is a joint project of the University of Delaware, Shinshu University, Nagoya University, Southern Space Observatory of INPE, University of Santa Maria, Australian Antarctic Division, University of Tasmania, and University of Kuwait.

Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recomendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Send feedback to John W Bieber