Ionospheric Response to Solar Flares

Amateur radio reporting networks, such as the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN), PSKReporter, and the Weak Signal Propagation Network, are powerful tools for remote sensing the ionosphere. These voluntarily constructed and operated networks provide real-time and archival data that could be used for space weather operations, forecasting, and research. The potential exists for the study of both global and localized effects. The capability of one such network to detect space weather disturbances is demonstrated by examining the impacts on RBN-observed HF propagation paths of an X2.9 class solar flare detected by the GOES 15 satellite. Prior to the solar flare, the RBN observed strong HF propagation conditions between multiple continents, primarily Europe, North America, and South America. Immediately following the GOES 15 detection of the solar flare, the number of reported global RBN propagation paths dropped to less than 35% that of prior observations. After the flare, the RBN showed the gradual recovery of HF propagation conditions.