Saturday, 30 April 2011

Spring in the North

Spring has arrived in Northern Scandinavia and Finland, and after some really warm days, the ice on the rivers is breaking up and rapidly disappears while large parts of the land are already free of snow. It's fun to watch the floats of ice drift downstream, some have a peculiar rectangular shape, which seems unnatural. And it is: In winter, the rivers are snow-mobile highways, and where they go, they compress the snow and make the ice cover last longer than elsewhere. In spring, these scooter tracks stay intact and drift away eventually.

This is the first spring during the EISCAT_3D Preparatory Phase project, which began half a year ago, and it symbolises an exciting year ahead. We are looking forward to the User Meeting in Uppsala in just over two weeks' time, and of course our EISCAT_3D friends in Finland will begin the building of the KAIRA radar receiver in June. Then there's the radar school, and the biannual EISCAT workshop.

Following the list of project milestones, many important decisions and plans are made during this first project year, which will shape the future of the EISCAT_3D radars. Now it is the right time to be active and join the planning process, and make your voice heard, because this is your future radar being planned!

Photo: Thomas Ulich.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

On the other side of Easter: Deadlines approaching

In many countries the days of Easter mean a long weekend and thus a brief spring (or autumn) holiday. Now Easter lies behind us and we are looking into the future. There are a couple of EISCAT related deadlines coming up very fast now, so please do not forget and mark your diaries.
  1. EISCAT Peer Review Programme, Deadline 1st May 2011, 2400 UTC.
    Under this programme, anyone can apply for EISCAT Radar time, independent of whether or not the applicant is from an EISCAT associate country. The selection is mainly merit-based, so if your idea is good, you get radar time. More in a recent blog post, or directly at the EISCAT PRP's web page.
  2. 3rd EISCAT_3D User Meeting, Deadline 6th May 2011.
    The EISCAT_3D User Meeting will take place in Uppsala, Sweden (very close to Stockholm-Arlanda airport) from 18th - 20th May 2011. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss current science which would benefit from EISCAT_3D, requirements for EISCAT_3D, FP7 project progress, and other, related issues. There will be a dedicated session on Atmospheric Science, which discusses EISCAT_3D's ambition to reach well into the middle atmosphere (and possibly below). Please refer to our blog post or directly to the meeting page for more information.
Other dates of interest in 2011 are
  • International Incoherent Scatter Radar Workshop, 18th - 23rd July 2011, Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. (link)
  • Session "G06: Recent Developments in Incoherent Scatter Radar" during the XXX General Assembly of URSI, Istanbul, Turkey on August 13-20, 2011. (session link, meeting link)
  • 15th International EISCAT Workshop, 5-9 September 2011, Qingdao, China; more information in another blog post very soon. (link)
We are looking forward to meeting you at these events. Or get in touch with us at any time!

Friday, 15 April 2011

MST-13: First Announcement

RMR Lidar at IAP, Kühlungsborn, Germany.

The future EISCAT_3D radar system will be located at the edge of the polar vortex, within the auroral oval, which will allow us to study atmospheric and geospace processes of crucial importance. Major science topics for EISCAT_3D include the influence of natural solar-terrestrial variability on climate, long-term anthropogenic change, and the coupling of atmospheric layers, to name but a few. For this purpose, EISCAT_3D will reach lower into the atmosphere as the present EISCAT radars, and there will be a special atmospheric science session at the upcoming EISCAT_3D User Meeting. The lower and middle atmosphere is typically studied by MST radars (Mesosphere-Stratosphere-Troposphere) as well as by lidars, which are basically radars using light instead of radio waves (see photo).

The 13th International Workshop on Technical and Scientific Aspects of MST Radar (MST13) will be hosted by the Leibniz Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Kühlungsborn, Germany, from 19th to 23rd March 2012.

The MST workshop series is special in that it encompasses scientists, engineers, technical experts, theoreticians, and students, all united in one forum for MST radar studies. Previous workshops have been held in such diverse locations as India, Perú, the USA, Europe and Canada. Athough the workshop focuses on MST radars, contributions from related areas are welcome. These could include, e.g., collaborative studies involving radars and other instruments such as lidars, in-situ studies and relevant theoretical developments. Papers will cover the atmosphere from the ground to the ionosphere, with some emphasis on the Mesosphere-Stratosphere-Troposhere. Tropospheric studies include meteorology. Other areas of interest include special topics like meteors, lightning, sprites, layering phenomena, clouds, waves, tides, numerical forecasting, nowcasting, etc.

For more information, please visit the workshop's web site, where you can register yourself to receive future updates on the workshop: Expression of Interest.

Credits: MST13 logo designed by Ralph Latteck, and the photo above was taken by Gerd Baumgarten, both at IAP Kühlungsborn, Germany.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

EISCAT Peer-Review Programme: Call for Proposals

EISCAT Scientific Association invites applications for observing time on the EISCAT facilities in 2011, by individual scientists, research groups, and consortia throughout the world on equal, competitive basis. This means that anyone can apply, independent of whether or not the applicant is from an EISCAT associate country.

While evaluations are merit based, in the case of two applications having similar merits in evaluation, preference will be given either to those applicants who are new to the EISCAT facilities, in order to enlarge the EISCAT user community and further more open access to the facilities, or to the applicant showing stronger educational impact in their proposal.

The present call is the second call of the programme, and the second call for 2011. In total, 200 hours of experiment time are open for international, peer-reviewed competition, and are available for the use of any of the current EISCAT facilities. Roughly half of this time has been allocated during the first call.

Please refer to EISCAT's pages on the Peer-Review Programme and in particular to the definition of the call for more information.

The deadline for proposals is 1st May 2011 at 24:00 UTC.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Regular blog features

While the EISCAT_3D blog will contain news about the FP7 project, it is meant to be a platform for general EISCAT-related news and outreach items. For instance, it is a great place to popularise your latest EISCAT-related papers. Therefore, we are planning on two weekly features:

- Science Feature (Tuesdays)
- Image Feature (Fridays)

In order for this to work we need your help! Your contributions are not only very welcome, but essential to make this a true EISCAT user-community platform.

Science: Please send us a short text about your recent science result with link to paper, conference presentation or press release, and we will publish it on the blog. Please do not simply copy the abstract, make sure it addresses a large audience. Also, include some kind of image or graph, which will make the post more attractive.

Image: Please send us interesting image material, a photo or a graph or data plot with a brief caption to be published as the "end of week" image feature. The can also be interesting historic images. Make sure to include the name and e-mail of the originator of the material, so that we can check that it's ok to use it.

Or indeed, send us anything else you want to make accessible to a wide audience. Have a look at the KAIRA blog for some inspiration. The only requirements are that it must be relevant to EISCAT and ISR in the larger sense.

Friday, 8 April 2011

3rd EISCAT_3D User Meeting

It's Friday, and time for a pretty picture. Also it's time to register for the 3rd EISCAT_3D User Meeting will take place in Uppsala, Sweden, 18-20 May 2011. Thus we use the opportunity to combine these two and bring you a photo of one of the beautiful, old buildings of the University of Uppsala.

The meeting is the third of its kind, and it is the first to feature a day (18th May, 10:00-17:00) dedicated to a special topic. This year it's "Atmospheric studies by using versatile instruments" including ideas for EISCAT_3D from future users.

The second day (19th May, 09:00-17:00) covers all science topics to be studied by EISCAT_3D. We also welcome presentations of recent results by the current EISCAT radars, which may be of interest for future EISCAT_3D studies.

The third day (20th May, 09:00-12:00) is dedicated to the presentation of the current status and latest results of the FP7 EISCAT_3D Preparatory Phase project and related discussions.

The deadline for registration has been extended to 6th May 2011. Please register by email to Stephan Buchert, scb [at] irfu [dot] se.

For more information please have a look at the web page of the meeting at

Photo: Stephan Buchert, Uppsala, Sweden.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

EISCAT Outreach Activities

Stepping up efforts to maintain and enlargen a vibrant, international EISCAT and EISCAT_3D user community, we have started to use social networking tools. We want to reach out to those of you who prefer other means of rapid communication and discussion than e-mail. Information available on all of these channels is freely accessible and does not require an account with any service, just a web browser. However, if you want to participate in the discussion, you have to register.

EISCAT_3D project page (

This page will be updated for major announcements and news, and it is more directly related to the FP7 Preparatory Phase study "EISCAT_3D: A European Three-Dimensional Imaging Radar for Atmospheric and Geospace Research."

EISCAT_3D blog (

The new EISCAT_3D blog is meant to have frequent updates, several times a week. So check back often or use the RSS feed provided. We will explain more about the blog in another post in the next few days, but already now: the blog is for everyone to contribute. Esp. we are asking you to send us your latest science results and/or interesting photos for a science feature (Tuesdays) and an image feature (Fridays).

Facebook page (

Facebook is a tool directed at networking, i.e. bringing people of similar interest together. We thought about this for a very long time, but given that FB has so many users around the world, it's a tool we just cannot afford to ignore.

The FB page allows all those of you who "Like" it to publish their own comments on EISCAT and related matters, as well as comment on announcements. The updates of the "Wall" of the page will appear in your personal stream of information. We will use it for making announcements, in order to keep all of you current with the development of EISCAT_3D.

Twitter feed (

For really rapid updates and announcements, follow @EISCAT_3D on Twitter. There will be several people contributing to providing news tweets from around the world, volunteers welcome!

EISCAT_3D Mailing list (

Of course there's also our mailing list, which has been in operation for over a year now. You can subscribe to the list using the link above, or you can just browse the mailing list archives. There are almost 200 addresses on the list. Anyone can write to the list, but it is a moderated list, so there might be a small delay in your message going through. The reason for that, of course, is that we want to avoid commercial advertising (spam) to end up in your inboxes.

A vibrant and well organised user community is key to the funding of the future EISCAT_3D. Please pass the information about these new services on to others, and together let's make our international user community visible!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

EISCAT at the EGU General Assembly, Vienna

Currently the General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) is in full swing in Vienna. About 9000 scientists are gathered to discuss practically anything related to our planet. EISCAT is represented strongly:

EISCAT_3D film screening:

The EISCAT_3D film will be screened today, Wednesday, 6th April at 11:30 local time at the GeoCinema, which is part of the EGU meeting. Don't miss it!

EISCAT session:

There's an EISCAT session in the science programme of the EGU meeting: Session ST3.4 "Advance in ionospheric research by incoherent scatter radars, related radio methods and novel large observational systems," conveners: Esa Turunen, Yasunobu Ogawa, and Ingemar Häggström. The oral session will take place on Friday, 8th April, from 13:30 to 15:00 in Room 29, and the poster session will be right afterwards from 15:30 to 17:00 in Hall Z.

The session description as well as the oral and poster programme are on-line.

Don't miss it!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Arctic Ozone Hole

We begin the Tuesday Science Features with something very up-to-date: the polar ozone hole, which occurs in spring time. Today, two independent(?) news items were published on this year's Arctic ozone hole, which is taking place right now.

One of these news items is about the measurements of the ENVISAT satellite of the European Space Agency (ESA), which clearly show a large depletion of ozone above the Arctic. The picture shown here is from ENVISAT data, more specific from the MIPAS instrument. For more information, read the original article on ESA's pages entitled "Record loss of ozone over Arctic."

The other item published today comes from much closer to home. It is about the ozone balloon soundings made regularly during the past 21 years at the Arctic Research Centre of the Finnish Meteorological Institute. FMI-ARC is a neighbour of the EISCAT UHF receiver system at Sodankylä, Finland, located only a few hundred metres away. Since it is spring in Finnish Lapland, i.e. the days are often sunny, tempratures are above freezing, and there's still plenty of snow, lot of people enjoy the outdoors. FMI, however, warns of sunburns due to thin protective ozone layer and reflective snowcover. Read the full article entitled "Record-thin ozone layer over Nordic region" in the English language version of the main Finnish newspaper "Helsingin sanomat".

Why is this relevant to EISCAT_3D? The current EISCAT radars are and the future EISCAT_3D will be located namely in the European Arctic, under the polar vortex, and thus directly where the Arctic ozone hole occurs. Moreover, the future radar aims at providing more mesospheric data. Together with stratospheric and other meteorological measurements we will be able to monitor the atmosphere much more comprehensively above Northern Europe. One of the key objectives of EISCAT_3D is to study and quantify the influence of natural solar-terrestrial variability on climate. Understanding the atmosphere as a complex system embedded in the Earth's space environment is essential in this context.

Image: source on ESA's site; showing ENVISAT/MIPAS temperature field for the Arctic on 6th March 2011 at the start of the ozone depletion at a height of 50 hPa. Credits: Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT), Germany.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Course: Optical Methods in Auroral Physics

Auroral camera with filter wheel. Photo: Carl-Fredrik Enell.
You can now register for a course in optical methods in auroral physics.  The course will take place at the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), Longyearbyen, Svalbard, from 14th to 25th November 2011.  It comprises 32 hrs of lectures, about 46 hrs of seminars and field work, and 2-3 weeks of studying on your own.  The course is rewarded with 7.5 ECTS credits.

Experimental (hands-on) understanding of optical data obtained by ground-based auroral instruments as well as a theoretical background to auroral studies by optical methods.

The first part of the course gives an overview of the different types of instruments that are used in auroral optics today.  The optical design and performance of photometers, spectrometers, interferometers and camera systems will be explained.  An experiment in the optical calibration laboratory will be conducted to obtain the spectral sensitivity / quantum efficiency of digital colour cameras.  Furthermore, the facilities at the Kjell Henriksen Observatory (KHO) will be used, since it contains an array of up-to-date optical instruments used in studies of dayside and nightside aurora.

Parallel to the practical part of this course, general overview and theoretical lectures will be given to provide an understanding of the physics involved in optical studies of the aurora and the ionosphere.  The theoretical part of the course will cover auroral aeronomy, spectroscopy and remote sensing of magnetospheric processes.

Deadline for registration is 15th April 2011.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Artist impression of EISCAT_3D - not!

No, we didn't secretly build EISCAT_3D in some remote location without letting you know.  This is a photo of the Jicamarca Radio Observatory outside Lima, Perú. The picture is taken from a near-by hill, a short walk away.  The radar operates at 50 MHz and consists of 18,432 dipoles covering an area of 290m × 290m.  It is used for incoherent scatter as well as MST work.  The location of this radar is similarly exciting as the location of EISCAT in the auroral zone: Jicamarca is placed right under the equatorial electrojet.

The observatory was so kind to host this spring's EISCAT Science Oversight Committee (SOC) meeting (28-30 March 2011), during which science and operational status of EISCAT were discussed.  The recommendations of SOC will be given to the EISCAT Council, which will meet in June 2011.

With this "Friday Photo" we wish everyone a very happy weekend.

Photo: Thomas Ulich.