The CRREAT project

Nuclear Physics Institute of the CAS (NPI), Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the CAS (IAP) and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of the Czech Technical University in Prague (CTU) have joined their human and instrumental sources to create the Research Center of Cosmic Rays and Radiation Events in the Atmosphere (CRREAT) team that will address so far unanswered questions of detection and dosimetry of ionising radiation both of cosmic and terrestrial origin. Cosmic rays are the key phenomenon for investigation of the origin and composition of the universe, ionising radiation in the atmosphere also represents a significant health risk for passengers onboard aircraft.

Main outputs of CRREAT are (i) building an excellent team of researchers that will contribute to clarifying the unexplained radiation phenomena in the atmosphere, (ii) modernisation of the research infrastructure, (iii) increasing the scientific performance of the collaborating subjects, and (iv) enhancing the international cooperation.

The project is supported by the European Structural and Investment Funds by means of Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MEYS) Operational programme research, development and education, MEYS, (project Reg. No. CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/15_003/0000481) in combination with institutional support of NPI, IAP, and CTU.

Eight research institutions from Armenia, France, Japan, Germany, Russia, Slovakia and USA have expressed their professional support for the project – it anticipates a wide scientific collaboration.

The CRREAT team performs measurements of the atmospheric radiation and ionisation events on satellites, aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, monitoring cars and ground stations. The CRREAT project will contribute to improvement of space weather models, air transport safety and global navigation systems reliability.


  1. To deepen the knowledge about the relation between atmospheric phenomena and ionising radiation (IR).
  2. To clarify phenomena causing variations of the secondary cosmic particles (SCP) in the atmosphere.

The objectives are complementary. Thus a partial accomplishment of one of the objectives should contribute to the accomplishment of the other.

Objective 1 will be achieved if we will be able to prove a currently not so clearly demonstrated connection between at least one atmospheric phenomenon and ionising radiation. Such a connection may include the detection of ionising radiation generated by an atmospheric discharge or lightning generation triggered by a secondary cosmic particle shower.

Objective 2 will be achieved if we prove an effect of at least one newly identified atmospheric parameter on the detection of SCP or significantly improve the understanding of an effect of a previously identified atmospheric parameter on the detection of SCP.

The acquired knowledge will help to improve the precision of aircraft crew dosimetry, cosmic weather modelling, electromagnetic signal atmospheric propagation modelling, could enable prediction of lightning occurrence and will bring understanding to yet unexplained atmospheric phenomena.

The project outcomes, mainly those investigating

  • the relationship between the storm activity and cosmic radiation.
  • changes in aircraft radiation doses connected with short-term variations in the atmosphere, mainly lightning
  • description and understanding of the lightning initiation process by monitoring the vertical hydrometeor profile and electric field modelling.

Outcomes are all potentially applicable in other fields: thunderstorms and lightning, in particular, pose a great danger not only to aviation but to the general population, electricity distribution, fire safety, etc.