SuperDARN (Super Dual Auroral Radar Network) Halley Radar, Halley VI, Brunt Ice Shelf, Caird Coast

Lat. 75°34'5"S, Long. 25°30'30"W

The Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) has been operating as an international co-operative organisation for over 20 years, and has proved to be one of the most successful tools for studying dynamical processes in the Earth’s magnetosphere, ionosphere, and neutral atmosphere. SuperDARN comprises similar ground-based coherent-scatter radars that operate in the HF frequency band, and whose fields of view combine to cover extensive regions of both the northern and southern polar ionospheres. From humble beginnings the network has now grown so that the fields of view of its 33 radars cover the majority of the northern and southern hemisphere polar ionospheres.


SuperDARN at BAS – There are presently 16 SuperDARN Principal Investigator (PI) institutes worldwide, in 9 countries, running over 30 SuperDARN radars. BAS has been responsible for the operation of two SuperDARN radars, at Halley in Antarctica, and in the Falkland Islands. BAS also hosts one of two SuperDARN data hubs that collect and manage data from all SuperDARN radars for re-distribution to other SuperDARN PI groups and the worldwide science community. SuperDARN has helped significantly to address key questions that have been cornerstones of BAS science programmes over the last 20 years, e.g., regarding magnetic reconnection, ionospheric convection, and mesospheric tides. It now has a key role in the Space Weather and Atmosphere team’s project to routinely measure Joule heating in the upper atmosphere, and assess its contribution to satellite drag.

SuperDARN facilitates a wide breadth of both magnetospheric and ionospheric science, particularly in the area of magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling, with notable unique results and breakthroughs:

  • Revolutionised the global mapping of ionospheric convection, with particular highlights being the observation of reverse convection cells during northward IMF, and the understanding of transient ionospheric flows driven by bursty and patchy magnetic reconnection.
  • Facilitated global measurements of energy flow into and out of the Earth’s magnetosphere via magnetic reconnection. SuperDARN measurements allowed the remote sensing of reconnection rates across the merging regions on both the dayside and nightside of the Earth.
  • Allowed the direct measurement of ionospheric vorticity, which provides a proxy for the field-aligned currents that couple processes in the magnetosphere and ionosphere.
  • Revolutionised the measurement and characterisation of small-scale ULF waves that cannot be measured by other ground-based instrumentation.
  • Allow the measurement and tracking of polar patches – regions of enhanced ionisation in the ionosphere that disrupt radio communications.
  • Through using the SuperDARN radars as meteor radars it has been possible to build up a global picture of tides in the mesosphere/lower thermosphere region of the atmosphere.

There are over 700 papers in the ISI Web of Science database which contain ‘SuperDARN’ in the title, abstract, or keywords.


Data Access – The BAS SuperDARN data mirror is one of two SuperDARN data mirrors, the other being located at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada.

Given a connecting host address, username, and corresponding SSH public key, we can create a secure, isolated account for that user on our external-facing mirror node. This mirror node provides read-only access to the data, supporting rsync, sftp, and scp data transfer methods. The data are then accessible under the mirror directory structure – /sddata/<type>/<year>/<month>/.

To set this up, e-mail

Data Catalogue – The files on the mirror and the radars that make up SuperDARN, are described in the SuperDARN Mirror Catalogue.

The catalogue is exposed via an API, available at

Full documentation is also available.

The temporal coverage of the catalogue can also be queried and visualised.

Data Format – The raw data on the SuperDARN data mirror exists in the form of *.rawacf files. Software to read and analyse these data is available in a range of SuperDARN software modules which can be freely downloaded from

Data Usage and Acknowledgements – Data are freely available to scientists or for scientific purposes. Data should not be used for defence or commercial purposes. These data should not be made available on non-official database sites.

When using SuperDARN data please acknowledge their source. In particular please include the following acknowledgement in any publications – “The authors acknowledge the use of SuperDARN data. SuperDARN is a collection of radars funded by the national scientific funding agencies of Australia, Canada, China, France, Italy, Japan, Norway, South Africa, United Kingdom and United States of America.” In addition, we recommend the following general references for the SuperDARN network:

Chisham, G., et al. (2007), A decade of the Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN): Scientific achievements, new techniques and future directions, Surv. Geophys., 28, 33-109.

Greenwald, R. A., et al. (1995), DARN/SuperDARN: A global view of the dynamics of high-latitude convection, Space Sci. Rev., 71, 761-796.


Joule Heating

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