Canadian High Arctic Ionospheric Network (CHAIN)

University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick
What the facility does

Radio remote sensing, space weather, high frequency communications, GNSS research and applications, Arctic research

Areas of expertise

In the modern, technologically dependent society, the most important tools for economic development, safety, and the security of citizens are reliable communication and navigation systems. Because of the geographical location of the Arctic, satellite-based communication systems do not constitute an optimum solution and navigation systems are not always reliable due to  the highly variable ionospheric conditions in these regions. Recent emphasis on the development of the Arctic has triggered a renewed interest in the use of high frequency (HF) communications systems (3-30 MHz) and global navigational satellite system (GNSS)-based methods for navigation and positioning purposes. However, long-range high frequency radio communication and GNSS-based positioning and navigation systems rely heavily on the structure and state of the ionosphere. Knowledge about the state of the ionosphere and understanding its properties thus become critical when planning and setting up long-range high frequency radio communication links and developing GNSS-based navigational and positioning products. Temporal and spatial variations of the Arctic ionosphere, as caused by its direct interaction with the solar wind and magnetosphere, further complicate any attempt to plan HF communication and develop navigational and positioning products for this remote region of the Earth. Solar wind - magnetosphere - ionosphere interaction also produces "space weather events", which disrupt the operation of HF communication and navigation systems in the Arctic. Reliable ionospheric observations with a near real-time forecast/nowcast capacity are crucial for the successful operation of these high frequency communication systems and the development of accurate navigational systems/products.  CHAIN consists of a unique array of radio instruments (six radars and 25 Global Positioning System receivers) in the Canadian Arctic to monitor space weather. Using CHAIN, we monitor the Arctic ionosphere in near-real-time and develop value-added data products for industrial and government users.

Research services

Arctic High-Frequency propagation model, space weather forecasting, Arctic ionospheric model, land and marine navigation aid and products, high-frequency communication protocols

Sectors of application
  • Aerospace and satellites
  • Defence and security industries
  • Environmental technologies and related services
  • Ocean industries
  • Policy and governance
  • Transportation
  • Utilities
Specialized labEquipmentFunction


Radio Physics Laboratory

High-end oscilloscope, spectrum

analyzer, HF testing equipment

Electronic design and testing equipment, Radio frequency

diagnostics instruments


Canadian High Arctic Ionospheric Network (CHAIN)

High data-rate specialized Global

Positioning System receivers (25)

High frequency radars (Ionosondes) (6)

Measures Global Positioning

System observables

Measures ionospheric parameters


  • Trimble Navigation Ltd.
  • Septentrio Satellite Navigation N.V.
  • NovAte Inc.
  • Department of National Defence
  • NavCanada
  • Natural Resources Canada
  • Canadian Space Agency
  • Western University
  • University of Calgary
  • University of Alberta
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
  • University of Oslo
  • National Institute of Polar Research
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation-UNB scientists expand network to track space weather
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation-Fredericton researchers map weather in space