Study of the Influence of High Electric Field Variations on Cosmic Ray Flux detected by the ARGO-YBJ Experiment
This paper is an overview of the author's PhD thesis results. ARGO-YBJ is an extensive air shower detector located at Yangbajing (Tibet, China) at 4300 m a.s.l. It is made by a full coverage carpet plus a guard ring (total surface about 6700 m^2) of Resistive Plate Chambers grouped into 153 units called clusters. The experiment has two different operation modes. The former, the scaler mode, counts the number of events with particle multiplicity >=1, >=2, >=3, >=4 allowing to reach the lowest energy threshold of the detector (few GeVs). The latter, the shower mode, measures coordinates and arrival time of each particle hitting the carpet for a complete shower reconstruction at an energy threshold of few hundreds of GeVs. Due to the high sensitivity of scaler mode it becomes very important remove all environmental parameter effects from scaler counts. The careful study of cosmic ray variations with environmental variables (such as atmospheric pressure, temperature, local radioactivity) allowed the correct estimation of the significance of signals registered in scaler mode. Episodes of counting rate variations both in scaler and shower mode in correspondence to high electric field variations are discussed, together with the study of temporal and spatial characteristics of cosmic ray showers during thunderstorms.