The Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) has been operating as an international co-operative organisation for over 25 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 over 30 radars cover the majority of the northern and southern hemisphere polar ionospheres.
Science – 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 1000 papers in the ISI Web of Science database which contain ‘SuperDARN’ in the title, abstract, or keywords.
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 25 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.
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 up an account, e-mail [email protected]
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 https://api.bas.ac.uk/superdarn/mirror/v3/.
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 software modules in the SuperDARN Radar Software Toolkit (RST), which can be freely downloaded from https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.801458
Data Usage and Acknowledgements – SuperDARN is an international collaboration operating high frequency (HF) radars deployed in the northern and southern hemispheres to measure ionospheric plasma circulation. Each partner institution secures funding and manages operations for their own facilities. The continued availability of SuperDARN data depends on the proper acknowledgement of data by its users. Guidelines for data acknowledgement are as follows:
When data from an individual radar or radars are used, users must contact the principal investigator(s) of those radar(s) to obtain the appropriate acknowledgement information and to offer collaboration, where appropriate. For all usage of SuperDARN data, users are asked to include the following standard acknowledgement text: “The authors acknowledge the use of SuperDARN data. SuperDARN is a collection of radars funded by national scientific funding agencies of Australia, Canada, China, France, Italy, Japan, Norway, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States of America.”
While SuperDARN has an open data use policy, i.e., prior permission to access and analyse the data is not required, the data user is strongly encouraged to establish early contact with any Principal Investigator whose data are involved in the project to discuss the intended usage and collaboration. Data can be subject to limitations that are not immediately evident to users. In addition, some data are embargoed for use by designated Principal Investigators for a period of one year. SuperDARN and the organizations that contributed data must be acknowledged in all reports and publications that use SuperDARN data.
The SuperDARN Executive Council must be notified before data are redistributed through another database. The data are not to be used for commercial purposes. If you have any questions about appropriate use of these data, contact any SuperDARN Principal Investigator.
In addition, we recommend the following general references for the SuperDARN network:
Nishitani, N., et al. (2019), Review of the accomplishments of midlatitude Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) HF radars, Progress in Earth and Planetary Science, 6, 27. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40645-019-0270-5
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. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10712-007-9017-8
Greenwald, R. A., et al. (1995), DARN/SuperDARN: A global view of the dynamics of high-latitude convection, Space Sci. Rev., 71, 761-796.
BAS SuperDARN mirror privacy notice
BAS is part of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), one of nine councils within UK Research & Innovation (UKRI). The UKRI Privacy Notice, https://www.ukri.org/privacy-notice/ , describes how NERC and the other UKRI councils handle personal data. Further information on our processing of personal data can also be found in the NERC Information Notice, https://nerc.ukri.org/about/policy/foi/information/.
The SuperDARN PI group has agreed to allow automated notifications to be sent from the BAS SuperDARN mirror to named contacts for each radar, in relation to radar data issues. The contact information you provide will only be used for notifying you of these issues.
All information provided will be held securely by the British Antarctic Survey whether the information is in electronic or physical format. We will seek consent to hold your contact information, for the purpose of notifying you of the aforementioned radar data issues. Thereafter we will periodically re-seek this consent. If you choose to unsubscribe from these notifications, we will destroy your contact information in accordance with our retention policy.
Your information will not be shared with third parties.