FOREWARN: Predicting Extreme Space Weather
The FOREWARN project (“Forebush Observations in Realtime of Extreme space Weather: Assisting Readiness through Notification”) employs a sophisticated cosmic ray "telescope", developed at Carleton University using single-wire drift chambers with scintillator-based event coincidence triggers, to detect and track muons formed by cosmic rays hitting Earth's upper atmosphere. The purpose of the experiment is to look for "Forebush decreases" in the galactic cosmic ray flux caused by Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) from the sun, and to correlate the data from the telescope to the arrival of CME-induced geomagnetic storms on Earth. The ultimate goal is to develop analysis techniques and evaluate the applicability and advantages of this technology, originally developed for conducting basic research in sub-atomic physics, to observe real time changes in the cosmic ray flux in order to provide advance warning, by 24 hours or more, of an impending geomagnetic “storm”. If it can be demonstrated that predictions made with this observation technique are accurate, notifications could be sent to power distribution, communications, government, and other organizations potentially affected by such events, so they can take precautionary steps to protect their infrastructures and alert their customers and/or other stakeholders well before the arrival of the “storm” itself.