Ionospheric Response to Solar Flares News

We are looking for presenters for the March 22-23, 2024 HamSCI workshop at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio! The workshop will focus on the theme of Alignments - between the Sun, Moon and Earth; between collegiate amateur radio recreation and STEM curriculum; between data collection and analysis; between professional and citizen science. We are preparing for the solar eclipse of 8 April 2024, for which Cleveland will be in totality. If you would like to present, please visit https://hamsci.org/hamsci2024 to submit an abstract. Abstracts are due by February 10, 2024. Presenters will be notified by March 1, 2024.

By Jonathan Rizzo, KC3EEY

SAQ (callsign SAQ) is a VLF transmitting station located in Grimeton, Sweden and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site operated by the Alexanderson Association. The heart of the transmitter is the Alexanderson Alternator and six antenna towers that are iconic to the site. Twice a year, there is a CW transmission at 17.2 kHz with an inspirational message to listeners all over the world. On Alexanderson Day, July 2nd, 2023, SAQ is scheduled to be on the air. More details can be found here (https://alexander.n.se/en/alexanderson-day-2023/) and contains a tentative schedule and a YouTube live broadcast for those who would like to watch the event live.

Dr. Kristina Collins, KD8OXT, is the lead author on a new paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Earth System Science Data entitled Crowdsourced Doppler measurements of time standard stations demonstrating ionospheric variability. The Grape Personal Space Weather Station is a low-cost, high frequency (HF) receiver designed to make precision measurements of signals received from frequency standards stations such as WWV, WWVH, and CHU. Because these standards stations transmit carriers with atomic-clock grade frequency stability, and the Grape receiver achieves similar frequency stability through the use of a GNSS Disciplined Oscillator, variations in the received signal can be attributed to changes in the ionosphere. The new paper demonstrates this in multiple ways, including showing changes in Doppler frequency due to the dawn and dusk terminators, seasonal variations, wave signatures with Medium Scale Traveling Ionospheric Disturbance periods, and the ionospheric response to solar flares. The paper also explains how to access Grape data and the open-source software used to conduct the analysis. The co-author team consists of professionals, students, and HamSCI volunteers, including Kristina Collins KD8OXT, John Gibbons N8OBJ, Nathaniel Frissell W2NAF, Aidan Montare KB3UMD, David Kazdan AD8Y, Darren Kalmbach KC0ZIE, David Swartz W0DAS, Robert Benedict KD8CGH, Veronica Romanek KD2UHN, Rachel Boedicker AC8XY, William Liles NQ6Z, William Engelke AB4EJ, David G. McGaw N1HAC, James Farmer K4BSE, Gary Mikitin AF8A, Joseph Hobart W7LUX, George Kavanagh KB1HFT, and Shibaji Chakraborty KN4BMT. The Grape receivers are the focus of an NSF-funded experiment to study the upcoming 2023 annular and 2024 total solar eclipses. More information on building your own Grape receiver is available at hamsci.org/grape.

A key component of the HamSCI mission is to encourage amateurs to conduct and share their own research and experiments. Larry Serra N6NC recently published two articles in QEX Magazine from his trans-North Pacific 40m propagation projects: The first, "Why Summer 40m Propagation Is So Good Between Japan and the US Pacific Coast" (QEX SEPT/OCT 2022 p.14), examined 12 years of July JA-US 40m propagation conditions and CW Skimmer results on days of JA domestic CW contests and proposed that the relatively calm water under the almost wall-to-wall summertime North Pacific HIGH pressure centers provided nearly +12dBm enhanced low-angle signal strength due to a reduction of surface reflection absorptions in the 3-ionospheric refraction, 2-sea surface reflection propagation path.

Join the WWV Amateur Radio Club, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery (FCMoD), and the HamSCI for two excellent lectures to be live streamed on March 2, 2023 at 5:00PM Mountain Std Time (0000 UTC):

  • The History of WWV Frequency Broadcasts - Glenn Nelson, WWV Staff, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
  • WWV as a Beacon for Citizen Science - Dr. David Kazdan and Rachel Boedicker - Case Western Reserve University/HamSCI  Aidan Montare - NIST Boulder/HamSCI

HamSCI submitted two white papers to the National Academy of Sciences Decadal Survey for Solar and Space Physics (Heliophysics) 2024-2033. The first white paper, entitled Amateur Radio: An Integral Tool for Atmospheric, Ionospheric, and Space Physics Research and Operations, discusses the technical capabilities of the amateur radio community and the open scientific questions and space weather operational needs that can be addressed with these capabilities. The second paper, Fostering Collaborations with the Amateur Radio Community, talks about how the professional science space science community and the amateur radio community can work together for mutual benefit and provides recommendations for fostering this relationship. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is the body in the United States charged with setting the highest level science priorities for the United States. Every 10 years, the NAS conducts a decadal survey of the community to help set these priorities. This current Decadal Survey for Solar and Space Physics (Heliophysics) will be the guiding document for space science research and operations for NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and congress from 2024-2033.

A new study by Sam Lo et al. from the Centre for Space at the University of Bath entitled "A Systematic Study of 7 MHz Greyline Propagation Using Amateur Radio Beacon Signals" was just published in the peer-reviewed journal Atmosphere. Abstract: This paper investigates 7 MHz ionospheric radio wave propagation between pairs of distant countries that simultaneously lie on the terminator. This is known as greyline propagation. Observations of amateur radio beacon transmitters recorded in the Weak Signal Propagation Reporter (WSPR) database are used to investigate the times of day that beacon signals were observed during the year 2017. The WSPR beacon network consists of thousands of automated beacon transmitters and observers distributed over the globe. The WSPR database is a very useful resource for radio science as it offers the date and time at which a propagation path was available between two radio stations, as well as their precise locations. This paper provides the first systematic study of grey-line propagation between New Zealand/Eastern Australia and UK/Europe. The study shows that communications were predominantly made from the United Kingdom (UK) to New Zealand at around both sunset and sunrise times, whereas from New Zealand to the UK, communication links occurred mainly during UK sunrise hours. The lack of observations at the UK sunset time was particularly evident during the UK summer. The same pattern was found in the observations of propagation from Eastern Australia to UK, and from New Zealand and Eastern Australia to Italy and the surrounding regions in Europe. The observed asymmetry in reception pattern could possibly be due to the increase in electromagnetic noise across Europe in the summer afternoon/evening from thunderstorms. URL: https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4433/13/8/1340

Congratulations to Sam Lo and the entire team!

Dr. Frank Howell K4FMH will present a seminar based on his two-part article in the July & August 2022 issues of the Radio Society of Great Britain’s RadCom journal, written with Dr. Scott McIntosh of NCAR in Colorado, titled, “On the Cusp of a Scientific Revolution?” The seminar includes the latest theory construction and model estimation. The seminar will be held on September 1, 2022 at 4 PM Eastern (2000z) during the weekly Solar Eclipse QSO Party Zoom Telecon. Frank is Professor Emeritus at Mississippi State University, Affiliated Faculty at Emory University, and a scientific member of HamSCI.

The Solar Eclipse QSO Party (SEQP) is coming back! Two solar eclipses will be traversing the continental United States over the next two years: an annular solar eclipse on October 14, 2023 and a total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.  These eclipses are going to be the last solar eclipse traversing the continental United States until 2044, and therefore this is our chance to both have some fun on the radio and study these amazing events! During a solar eclipse, the shadow of the moon creates temporary night-like conditions on Earth. This causes the ionosphere to weaken and the atmosphere to cool, therefore causing changes in ionospheric radio propagation. On August 21, 2017, HamSCI coordinated the first Solar Eclipse QSO Party, a ham radio contest-like event that produced data used to study the impact of the eclipse on the ionosphere. HamSCI is planning on have two more SEQPs, one for each of the upcoming solar eclipses. If you would like to help plan for these exciting events and be part of the science team, join us every week on Thursdays at 4 PM Eastern starting September 1, 2022 on our Zoom telecon.

The HamSCI teams at the University of Scranton W3USR and Case Western Reserve University W8EDU were recently awarded a 3-year collaborative National Science Foundation grant to study impacts of the 2023 and 2024 Solar Eclipses on the ionosphere, as well as ionospheric variability that occurs during every day dawn and dusk. The project will be led by Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF at Scranton and David Kazdan AD8Y, John Gibbons N8OBJ, Rachel Boedicker AC8XY, and Christian Zorman at Case Western. Kristina Collins KD8OXT, Bill Engelke AB4EJ, Steve Cerwin WA5FRF, Phil Erickson W1PJE, Mary Lou West KC2NMC, Bob Gerzoff WK2Y, Rachel Frissell W2RUF, and the entire HamSCI Grape Personal Space Weather Station team played a significant role in winning this grant. NSF funding will provide for about thirty Personal Space Weather Station Grape receivers to be deployed throughout North America. Their locations will be optimized to study the ionospheric impacts simultaneously received from WWV (Fort Collins, CO) on 5 and 10 MHz and CHU (Ottawa, Canada) on 3.33, 7.85, or 14.67 MHz. The HamSCI amateur radio community will be able purchase and field additional stations. All stations will run continuously from deployment through at least the end of the project, and will capture the 2023 and 2024 eclipses. If you would like to participate, please join our Google Group and weekly Grape telecons!