Super Dual Auroral Radar Network

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SuperDARN site in Holmwood SDA, Saskatoon

The Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) is an international radar network for studying the upper atmosphere and ionosphere, comprising twenty one radars in the northern hemisphere and eleven in the southern hemisphere [1] that operate in the High Frequency (HF) bands between 8.0 MHz (37m) and 22.0 MHz (14m).

The Java applets that are used as the radar data display system currently indicate the 10 MHz (30m) and 14 MHz (21m) frequency bands as being primarily used in 2012 (in the Northern Hemisphere). The radars measure the Doppler velocity (and other related characteristics) of plasma density irregularities in the ionosphere.

In the standard operating mode each radar scans through 16 beams of azimuthal separation ~3.24°, with a total scan time of 1 min. Each beam is divided into 75 range gates of length 45 km, and so in each full scan the radars each cover 52° in azimuth and over 3000 km in range, an area of over 4×106 km².


SuperDARN began in 1983, when the first radar installation was constructed in Labrador, Canada.[2]

Additions to the ionospheric RADAR network (in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres) have occurred about once every 4 years.

Since Linux became popular, it has become the default operating system for the Superdarn network. The operating system (superdarn-ros.3.6) is currently licensed under the LGPL). [1]

SuperDARN sites[edit]

The following is a list of SuperDARN sites, based on a list maintained by Virginia Tech College of Engineering.[3] As of 2009, an expansion project was underway for expanding the network into the middle latitudes, including the addition of sites in Hays, Kansas (near Fort Hays State University), Oregon, and the Azores, in order to support mapping outside of the auroral regions during large magnetic storms.[4]

Name Code Location Coordinates Boresight
Institute (website) Nationality
Northern Hemisphere
King Salmon ksr King Salmon, Alaska, United States 58°41′30″N 156°39′32″W / 58.6918°N 156.6588°W / 58.6918; -156.6588 −20.0° National Institute of Information and Communications Technology Japan
Adak Island East ade Adak Island, Alaska, United States 51°53′34″N 176°37′43″W / 51.8929°N 176.6285°W / 51.8929; -176.6285 46.0° University of Alaska Fairbanks United States
Adak Island West adw 51°53′35″N 176°37′52″W / 51.8931°N 176.6310°W / 51.8931; -176.6310 −28.0°
Kodiak kod Kodiak, Alaska, United States 57°36′43″N 152°11′29″W / 57.6119°N 152.1914°W / 57.6119; -152.1914 30.0°
Prince George pgr Prince George, British Columbia, Canada 53°58′52″N 122°35′31″W / 53.9812°N 122.5920°W / 53.9812; -122.5920 −5.0° University of Saskatchewan Canada
Saskatoon sas Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada 52°09′26″N 106°31′50″W / 52.1572°N 106.5305°W / 52.1572; -106.5305 23.1°
Rankin Inlet rkn Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, Canada 62°49′41″N 92°06′47″W / 62.8281°N 92.1130°W / 62.8281; -92.1130 5.7°
Inuvik inv Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada 68°24′46″N 133°46′08″W / 68.4129°N 133.7690°W / 68.4129; -133.7690 26.4°
Clyde River cly Clyde River, Nunavut, Canada 70°29′N 68°30′W / 70.49°N 68.50°W / 70.49; -68.50 −55.6°
Blackstone bks Blackstone, Virginia, USA 37°06′07″N 77°57′01″W / 37.1019°N 77.9502°W / 37.1019; -77.9502 -40.0° Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University United States
Fort Hays East fhe Hays, Kansas, United States 38°51′31″N 99°23′19″W / 38.8585°N 99.3886°W / 38.8585; -99.3886 45.0°
Fort Hays West fhw 38°51′32″N 99°23′25″W / 38.8588°N 99.3904°W / 38.8588; -99.3904 −25.0°
Goose Bay gbr Happy Valley-Goose Bay,
Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
53°19′04″N 60°27′51″W / 53.3179°N 60.4642°W / 53.3179; -60.4642 5.0°
Kapuskasing kap Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada 49°23′34″N 82°19′19″W / 49.3929°N 82.3219°W / 49.3929; -82.3219 −12.0°
Wallops Island wal Wallops Island, Virginia, United States 37°51′27″N 75°30′36″W / 37.8576°N 75.5099°W / 37.8576; -75.5099 35.9° Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory United States
Stokkseyri sto Stokkseyri, Iceland 63°51′37″N 21°01′52″W / 63.8603°N 21.0310°W / 63.8603; -21.0310 −59.0° University of Leicester United Kingdom
pyk Þykkvibær, Iceland 63°46′22″N 20°32′40″W / 63.7728°N 20.5445°W / 63.7728; -20.5445 30.0°
han Hankasalmi, Finland 62°18′50″N 26°36′19″E / 62.3140°N 26.6054°E / 62.3140; 26.6054 −12.0°
Hokkaido hok Hokkaido, Japan 43°31′54″N 143°36′52″E / 43.5318°N 143.6144°E / 43.5318; 143.6144 25.0° Nagoya University Japan
Valley East
cve Christmas Valley, Oregon, United States 43°16′13″N 120°21′24″W / 43.2703°N 120.3567°W / 43.2703; -120.3567 54.0° Dartmouth College United States
Valley West
cvw 43°16′15″N 120°21′31″W / 43.2707°N 120.3585°W / 43.2707; -120.3585 −20.0°
Southern Hemisphere
Name Code Location Coordinates Boresight
Institute (website) Nationality
Dome C dce Concordia Station, Antarctica 75°05′24″S 123°21′00″E / 75.090°S 123.350°E / -75.090; 123.350 115.0° Institute for Space Astrophysics and Planetology Italy
Halley* hal Halley Research Station, Antarctica 75°37′12″S 26°13′09″W / 75.6200°S 26.2192°W / -75.6200; -26.2192 165.0° British Antarctic Survey United Kingdom
McMurdo mcm McMurdo Station, Antarctica 77°50′15″S 166°39′21″E / 77.8376°S 166.6559°E / -77.8376; 166.6559 300.0° University of Alaska Fairbanks United States
South Pole sps South Pole Station, Antarctica 89°59′42″S 118°17′28″E / 89.995°S 118.291°E / -89.995; 118.291 75.7°
SANAE* san SANAE IV, Vesleskarvet, Antarctica 71°40′37″S 2°49′42″W / 71.6769°S 2.8282°W / -71.6769; -2.8282 173.2° South African National Space Agency South Africa
Syowa South* sys Showa Station, Antarctica 69°00′39″S 39°35′24″E / 69.0108°S 39.5900°E / -69.0108; 39.5900 159.0° National Institute of Polar Research Japan
Syowa East* sye 69°00′31″S 39°36′01″E / 69.0085°S 39.6003°E / -69.0085; 39.6003 106.5°
Kerguelen ker Kerguelen Islands 49°21′02″S 70°15′59″E / 49.3505°S 70.2664°E / -49.3505; 70.2664 168.0° French National Centre for Scientific Research France
TIGER tig Bruny Island, Tasmania, Australia 43°23′59″S 147°12′58″E / 43.3998°S 147.2162°E / -43.3998; 147.2162 180.0° La Trobe University Australia
TIGER-Unwin unw Awarua, near Invercargill, New Zealand 46°30′47″S 168°22′34″E / 46.5131°S 168.3762°E / -46.5131; 168.3762 227.9°
Zhongshan zho Zhongshan Station, Antarctica 69°22′36″S 76°22′05″E / 69.3766°S 76.3681°E / -69.3766; 76.3681 72.5° Polar Research Institute of China China

*: Part of the Southern Hemisphere Auroral Radar Experiment


Northern Hemisphere

  • Because the SuperDARN network evolved in the west during the late Cold War, coverage of Russia's arctic regions is poor.
  • Although there is no shortage of possible sites to cover Russia's arctic regions from Northern Europe and Alaska, the coverage would probably not be of high quality.
  • So far there has been no movement within those managing the SuperDARN network to do joint ventures with Russian universities to build the Russian part of the network.

Southern Hemisphere

  • Although Antarctica is covered reasonably well, the Sub-Antarctic regions do not have uniform coverage.
  • Java VM real time display software interoperability (where both poles could be observed at the same time) is still a work in progress.

SuperDARN in action
Real Time Java applet display of SuperDARN network for the Americas 
The Unwin Radar is a scientific radar array at Awarua Plain near Invercargill, New Zealand 


  1. ^ Retrieved 2013-07-19
  2. ^ "National Science Foundation constructs radar facility on FHSU grounds; internship created". Fort Hays State University. August 27, 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-04. [dead link]
  3. ^ "SuperDARN". Virginia Tech. Retrieved 2015-01-07. 
  4. ^ "APL Part of International Team Expanding Space Weather Radar Network". Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. 2009-08-30. Retrieved 2015-01-07. 

Research papers[edit]

Research papers related to SuperDARN and related technologies

Real time display of SuperDarn radar

External links[edit]

Each participating university should be listed here. As these are ongoing research sites, these links are subject to change.

Northern Hemisphere Stations

Southern Hemisphere Stations

Media related to Unwin Radar at Wikimedia Commons