High-Frequency Communications Response to Solar Activity in September 2017 as Observed by Amateur Radio Networks

Nathaniel Frissell, Joshua S. Vega, Evan Markowitz, Andrew Gerrard, William D. Engelke, Philip J. Erickson, Ethan S. Miller, R. Carl Luetzelschwab, Jacob Bortnik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Numerous solar flares and coronal mass ejection-induced interplanetary shocks associated with solar active region AR12673 caused disturbances to terrestrial high-frequency (HF, 3–30 MHz) radio communications from 4–14 September 2017. Simultaneously, Hurricanes Irma and Jose caused significant damage to the Caribbean Islands and parts of Florida. The coincidental timing of both the space weather activity and hurricanes was unfortunate, as HF radio was needed for emergency communications. This paper presents the response of HF amateur radio propagation as observed by the Reverse Beacon Network and the Weak Signal Propagation Reporting Network to the space weather events of that period. Distributed data coverage from these dense sources provided a unique mix of global and regional coverage of ionospheric response and recovery that revealed several features of storm time HF propagation dynamics. X-class flares on 6, 7, and 10 September caused acute radio blackouts during the day in the Caribbean with recovery times of tens of minutes to hours, based on the decay time of the flare. A severe geomagnetic storm with Kp max = 8+ and SYM-H min = −146 nT occurring 7–10 September wiped out ionospheric communications first on 14 MHz and then on 7 MHz starting at ∼1200 UT 8 September. This storm, combined with affects from additional flare and geomagnetic activity, contributed to a significant suppression of effective HF propagation bands both globally and in the Caribbean for a period of 12 to 15 days.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-132
Number of pages15
JournalSpace Weather
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


  • HF radio propagation
  • amateur radio
  • geomagnetic storm
  • ham radio
  • radio blackout
  • solar flare


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