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Keywords:

  • South Pole neutron monitor;
  • ground-level enhancements;
  • solar energetic protons

[1] We describe a practical system for forecasting peak intensity and fluence of solar energetic protons in the tens to hundreds of MeV energy range. The system could be useful for forecasting radiation hazard, because peak intensity and fluence are closely related to the medical physics quantities peak dose rate and total dose. The method uses a pair of ground-based detectors located at the South Pole to make a measurement of the solar particle energy spectrum at relativistic (GeV) energies, and it then extrapolates this spectrum downward in energy to make a prediction of the peak intensity and fluence at lower energies. A validation study based upon 12 large solar particle events compared the prediction with measurements made aboard GOES spacecraft. This study shows that useful predictions (logarithmic correlation greater than 50%) can be made down to energies of 40–80 MeV (GOES channel P5) in the case of peak intensity, with the prediction leading the observation by 166 min on average. For higher energy GOES channels, the lead times are shorter, but the correlation coefficients are larger.