Friday, 29 June 2012

Snow! In summer!

Yesterday morning we woke up to only +3°C at the EISCAT Sodankylä site, and it's the end of June! What a surprise then, when our colleague Lassi Roininen shows a couple of videos he took while coming on the bus from Ivalo: it's been snowing some 100 km north of Sodankylä.

We always thought that "Summer in Lapland is short and wet, but you do get a little snow" was a joke. But the good thing about it is that it's lethal to mosquitos. More about mosquitos in our next Science Tuesday feature.

Have a good weekend, and stay cool...

Photo: Lassi Roininen; click to enlarge.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Vacancies: PhD students Atmospheric Science, Oulu and Sodankylä

The Thule Institute of the University of Oulu has started a new multi-disciplinary research programme under the topic of "Global Change." Altogether 12 PhD studentships are available in various topics within various categories. Two of the topics are related to the atmospheric science and space research, which are detailed below.

Sodankylä: Mesospheric Monitoring of Ozone above the Polar Vortex during Solar Maximum 24

Currently, we are fast approaching the next solar activity maximum. During high solar activity, space weather events, which cause energetic particle precipitation into our atmosphere, occur much more frequently. These events lead to production of odd nitrogen in the mesosphere, which subsequently destroys mesospheric ozone. The project "Mesospheric Monitoring of Ozone above the Polar Vortex during Solar Maximum 24" (MeMO) will deploy a number of simple satellite TV receivers in Finland, which will monitor the radio emissions from mesospheric ozone and thereby measure ozone concentration above Tromsø and Sodankylä.

At these two locations, comprehensive ground-based measurements support the ozone observations: at Tromsø there are the EISCAT incoherent scatter radars, an MST radar, a meteor radar, and a lidar, while at Sodankylä comprehensive tropospheric and stratospheric monitoring by the Arctic Research Centre of the Finnish Meteorological Institute is complemented by, among others, the meteor radar and ionosonde of the Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory.

The successful candidate will have a degree in physics or engineering, as well as basic knowledge of atmospheric and ionospheric physics. He or she will have good programming skills. Basic understanding of RF electronics is beneficial for the job. Good command of the English language is a must. The location of research is Sodankylä, and mobility periods at MIT, Boston, USA, and University of Lancaster, UK, are envisaged.

Oulu: Outer Space Influence on the Low and Middle Polar Atmosphere

In the framework of the Thule Institute of the University of Oulu, a new project "Outer Space Influence on the Low and Middle Polar Atmosphere" has been started, with an opening of a full-time PhD studentship.

The studentship is for a four-year term, starting in September 2012 or as agreed, with a PhD completed in 2016 or earlier. The successful candidate will work at the University of Oulu, Finland, in an active group with Prof. Ilya Usoskin. The primary goal of the student will be to develop a global unified quantitative model of the atmospheric ionisation with particular emphasis upon polar region. It will be primarily oriented to the atmospheric and climate community to be used as an input for atmospheric chemistry and dynamics studies.

An M.Sc. or equivalent in Physics, Mathematics or Earth Sciences is required along with sufficient skills of English. Knowledge of one or more of the following fields is an advantage: space physics, atmospheric physics, numerical modelling, nuclear physics.


In order to apply, please click on the project titles above and follow the links to the application forms therein. Apply for Mesospheric Monitoring of Ozone above the Polar Vortex during Solar Maximum 24 or for Outer Space Influence on the Low and Middle Polar Atmosphere.

Closing date: applications for all vacancies in this call must have reached the university by 31st August 2012, 15:00 h local time.

Photos: top: EISCAT radar at Sodankylä, by Thomas Ulich; bottom: University of Oulu administration building, Wikimedia Commons (source).

Monday, 25 June 2012

Call for Papers: Long-Term Trends Workshop, Buenos Aires

The 7th IAGA/ICMA/CAWSES International Workshop on “Long-Term Changes and Trends in the Atmosphere” will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 11th to 14th September, 2012.

Long-term changes to Earth’s atmosphere are becoming more and more relevant to the future of our world and it is paramount that we quantify and understand changes occurring at all levels within the coupled atmospheric system. The increasing concentration of greenhouse gases, stratospheric ozone depletion, varying solar and geomagnetic activity, secular change of Earth’s magnetic field, and changing dynamics propagating up from the troposphere are some of the possible causes of long-term changes in the stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere and ionosphere. The goals of this workshop are to review the current state of knowledge about trends in these atmospheric regions, and to discuss what research is necessary for resolving inconsistencies, reducing uncertainties, and achieving a deeper understanding of middle and upper atmospheric climate change – especially the relative influences of anthropogenic and solar effects.

We welcome papers using all types of observational techniques to determine the long-term changes and trends that have occurred in the past and also to determine the processes behind those changes. We also welcome contributions which consider the availability, quality and acquisition of various data sets which may be exploited for trend studies, and statistical methods for deriving and validating those trends. Interpretation and attribution of observational results depends heavily on theoretical models and numerical simulations of the trends, and presentations dealing with these topics are particularly welcome. While the troposphere is not the main focus of the workshop, it is clear that it has a major role to play in middle and upper atmosphere trends; papers that demonstrate this relevance are also welcome.

Abstract deadline extended to 30th June 2012.

For more information, please refer to the meeting's web site.

Text: Ana G. Elias. Photo: Wikimedia Commons (source).

Friday, 22 June 2012

Summer Solstice!

We have passed the middle of the year, at least as far a solar elevation in the Northern Hemisphere is concerned. Yesterday, 21st June, was the summer solstice. In Finland and Scandinavia this signals the start of the long summer holidays. The weekend after the summer solstice is a time during which much of the Nordic countries shuts down to celebrate midsummer, which means that everyone tries to escape to the countryside, preferably somewhere with water, and in Finland a place with a sauna is an absolute must.

Thus we take the opportunity to wish you all a wonderful summer and holiday time.

The photo above is what a typical summer hide-out might look like. In fact it is the "coastal sauna", or sauna on the shore of the Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory, as seen from the river Kitinen. This building happens to be the oldest in the Tähtelä area, which hosts the Sodankylä EISCAT site: the observatory was destroyed during the war, and when the workers came by boat from the village to rebuilt it, they first built a camp site for themselves with facilities to wash themselves. Thus the first sauna of the observatory was built and is still in operation every summer.

Have a nice weekend, and enjoy summer and holidays!

Photo: Thomas Ulich.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Vacancy: Kinetic Space Plasma Scientist, Helsinki

The Space Weather Group at the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) seeks to fill a research position in space plasma physics simulations.

The candidate participates in global kinetic modelling of solar wind interactions with various Solar System objects by using the 3-D numerical kinetic plasma simulation platform HYB created at the FMI. We seek a candidate who will take the leading role to develop and to apply a new comet hybrid model to interpret plasma and dust observations from the forthcoming ESA's ROSETTA comet mission. ROSETTA will measure the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014-2015. The FMI has participated, for example, in the development and building of the plasma, dust and Langmuir probe instruments on the ROSETTA orbiter.

The applicant will also collaborate closely with other ongoing planetary plasma modelling activities and data analysis within the Space Weather Group. Especially, the group is intensively developing and applying hybrid simulations to interpret plasma and magnetic field measurements on ESA's Mars Express and Venus Express missions. Further, the HYB platform includes also a full kinetic PIC model, which is currently used to study the Moon-solar wind interaction.

Previous experience with programming is desirable. Familiarity with any of the following is an advantage: C/C++, Linux, particle-in-cell simulations, high performance computing, computer graphics, numerical algorithms.

For specifics about the position, contact Dr. Esa Kallio (esa -dot- kallio -at- fmi -dot- fi). Applicants should send a letter of interest, a curriculum vita with list of publications and two references to esa -dot- kallio -at- fmi -dot- fi. The starting date is upon agreement. The position is initially for one year with a possibility of extension. The position remains open until filled.

Text: Esa Kallio. Photos: Wikimedia Commons (link).

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Vacancy: Associate Professor in Space Physics, Tromsø

The University of Tromsø, Faculty of Science and Technology, has a position vacant as førsteamanuensis (Associate Professor) in Space Physics. The position belongs to the Department of Physics and Technology, and the research group in Space Physics.

The position’s affiliation: The Faculty of Science and Technology consists of the following departments: Department of Chemistry, Department of Computer Science, Department of Engineering and Safety, Department of Geology, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and Department of Physics and Technology.

The Department of Physics and Technology consists of three research groups: (1) Energy and climate physics, (2) Space physics, and (3) Electrical engineering. The department provides education at the Bachelor, Master, and PhD levels. The department comprises 18 permanent professors, and a technical/administrative staff of 9 persons. The department conducts research and education at a high international level, and our employees are engaged in several international collaborative projects.

The position’s field of research/field of work In consideration of the group’s research development and resources of the department, the successful applicant must be prepared to take part in research activities within fields already established within the group. Within the space physics group at the Department of Physics and Technology, the main research activity within the polar upper atmosphere (ionosphere) is by usage of EISCAT’s incoherent scatter radar- and heating facilities as well as ground-based infrastructure in Ramfjordmoen near Tromsø, as well as the EISCAT Svalbard Radar. EISCAT is an international research project where 7 countries are participating. A new EISCAT_3D system is in a preparatory phase, funded by EU. Facilities for high resolution interferometric observations of fine structures in the ionosphere as well as mesospheric studies have been employed recently. The group is involved in rocket experiments from the Andøya Rocket Range and from Svalbard, and takes part in the research at the LIDAR facility ALOMAR at Andøya.  The experimental activity at the in-house plasma laboratory (Aurolab) is oriented towards phenomena and processes with relevance for the ionosphere and for solar wind plasmas.

Further information about the position is available by contacting: Head of Department, Professor Alfred Hanssen email: Alfred -dot- hanssen -at- uit -dot- no, tel.: +47 77 64 51 82, or Professor Unni Pia Løvhaug email: unni -dot- pia -dot- lovhaug -at- uit -dot- no, tel.: +47 77 64 62 92.

Application deadline: 24th June 2012.

More information can be found at

TextÅshild Fredriksen, University of Tromsø.  Photo: Thomas Ulich.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Science Tuesday: Recent Papers

Tuesday is the science day on the EISCAT_3D blog. For the science feature, you can submit your research to the blog with an image, photo, or graph, and a short text explaining the study and the key result. We will then publish your work here. For the time being, please send any input to the blog's editor Thomas Ulich (thu -at- sgo -dot- fi). Thanks!
  • Estimating the geoeffectiveness of halo CMEs from associated solar and IP parameters using neural networks, by J. Uwamahoro, L. A. McKinnell, and J. B. Habarulema, ANGEO, 2012, Vol.30, pp. 963-972, SRef-ID: 1432-0576/angeo/2012-30-963,
  • Predictive model of magnetosheath plasma flow and its validation against Cluster and THEMIS data, by J. Soucek and C. P. Escoubet, ANGEO, 2012, Vol.30, pp. 973-982, SRef-ID: 1432-0576/angeo/2012-30-973,
Source: Alert Service Subscriptions.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Call for Papers: VERSIM 2012

The Local Organizing Committee of the 5th VERSIM Workshop 2012 have asked me to announce that the deadline for abstracts has been extended to Wednesday, 27 June 2012. This new deadline is fast approaching, so please consider making your submission ASAP. Recall that the 5th VLF/ELF Remote Sensing of the Ionosphere and Magnetosphere (VERSIM) working group workshop is to be hosted by the Center for Radio Astronomy and Astrophysics Mackenzie (CRAAM), Engineering School, at Mackenzie Presbyterian University, São Paulo, Brazil, on September 3-6, 2012.

The VLF and ELF techniques have proved to be versatile and applicable to several lines of research and development in the recent decades. The VERSIM community will have an excellent opportunity for discussing and exchanging ideas, information and new concepts related to subjects from the solar physics areas, the space and atmospheric physics, as well as the space weather, the radio-sciences, the computational modeling areas, and technological applications. With URSI and MackPesquisa partial sponsoring, this meeting is also a forum of debates for the new generation of students that are encouraged to submit their works. We are looking forward to see all the VERSIM community in VERSIM Workshop 2012.

Deadline for abstract submission: 27th June 2012.

Text: Craig Rodger, U Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons (source).

Friday, 15 June 2012

KAIRA in the Snow

The winter in Lapland is over, and the construction effort of the second part of the Finnish KAIRA station has begun. KAIRA is the Kilpisjärvi Atmospheric Imaging Receiver Array, a facility for prototyping EISCAT_3D receiver technology. It is a so-called LOFAR "remote station", which consists of 48 High-Band Array elements, and 96 Low-Band Array elements. The HBA covers the frequency range of 120-240 MHz while the LBA receives between 30 MHz and 80 MHz. The HBA frequency range comfortably accommodates the current VHF frequency of 224 MHz and the expected EISCAT_3D frequency of 233 MHz. Every HBA element is a box of 5 m x 5 m x 0.6 m containing an array of 4 x 4 crossed bow-tie broad-band antennae.

It has now been decided to deploy only half of the 96 LBA aerials at Kilpisjärvi, the rest will be installed at the premises of the Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory (SGO), which will make certain development efforts a lot easier, and it will save a lot of cost, because the space required for a full LOFAR LBA array is so large, that near-by wetland would need to be stabilised - a huge effort given that Kilpisjärvi is in the permafrost area!

The photo above shows KAIRA on 31st March 2012 (click to enlarge). The snow depth around the HBA array is between half a metre and a metre, but on top of the tiles, which are raised up to provide maximum exposure to wind, the snow layer is only a few centimetre. Thus the plan of letting nature take care of the snow removal seems to work fine.

Photo: Thomas Ulich.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Science Tuesday: Recent Papers

Tuesday is the science day on the EISCAT_3D blog. For the science feature, you can submit your research to the blog with an image, photo, or graph, and a short text explaining the study and the key result. We will then publish your work here. For the time being, please send any input to the blog's editor Thomas Ulich (thu -at- sgo -dot- fi). Thanks!
  • Momentum flux determination using the multi-beam Poker Flat Incoherent Scatter Radar, by M. J. Nicolls, D. C. Fritts, D. Janches, and C. J. Heinselman, ANGEO, 2012, Vol.30, pp. 945-962, SRef-ID: 1432-0576/angeo/2012-30-945,
  • Electron radiation belt data assimilation with an ensemble Kalman filter relying on the Salammbô code, by S. A. Bourdarie and V. F. Maget, ANGEO, 2012, Vol.30, pp. 929-943, SRef-ID: 1432-0576/angeo/2012-30-929,
Source: Alert Service Subscriptions.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Venus Transit Observations

At Sodankylä, the evening looked rather desperate and cloudy, but during what normally would be the night, the sky cleared up and a group of enthusiasts of the Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory (SGO) went out ontop of the near-by skiing hill Kommattivaara to watch the Venus Transit. The photo shown here is by Carl-Fredrik Enell.

Unfortunately, in the morning, when most people could get up early to see the final phase of the transit, it was cloudy again.

We hope you were lucky, too, and saw this rare event, which will occur next time in 2117.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Venus Transit

A very rare astronomical event will take place in the coming night above "EISCAT-land:" the planet Venus will transit the Sun. This means that, given the right equipment, one can see Venus as a black spot pass across the disc of the Sun. This is visible only partially in Europe, where the Sun rises while the transit is in progress. However, because of the Polar Day, north of the Arctic Circle, one can witness the entire event during what would normally be the night. Please refer to this map for details on your area.

The transit will begin today, 5th June 2012, at 22:04 UTC, which, in Northern Europe, is on 6th June at 00:04 CET-DST in Norway and Sweden and at 01:04 EET-DST in Finland.  The transit will end on 6th June at 04:54 UTC, i.e. 06:54 CET-DST in Norway and Sweden, and 07:54 EET-DST in Finland.

This event is very rare. While the previous time this happened was on 8th June 2004, the next will take place only in 2117!

Please make sure to use the right equipment to look at the Sun. You will need special solar filters, or you should use some kind of projection, e.g. a pinhole camera. If you project the Sun through binoculars or similar, make sure not to overheat the instrument!

We wish all of you safe and successful observations, and may the clouds vanish in time!

The photo shows a rather crude image of the partial solar eclipse visible from Sodankylä almost exactly a year ago on 2nd June 2011. The spec of light below the Sun is the reflection in the river. Also this eclipse happened "in the middle of the night," and was visible only due to the Polar Day. The photo was taken by Thomas Ulich using a simple digital camera and a solar filter.

Science Tuesday: Recent Papers

Tuesday is the science day on the EISCAT_3D blog. For the science feature, you can submit your research to the blog with an image, photo, or graph, and a short text explaining the study and the key result. We will then publish your work here. For the time being, please send any input to the blog's editor Thomas Ulich (thu -at- sgo -dot- fi). Thanks!
  • Modelling of optical emissions enhanced by the HF pumping of the ionospheric F-region, by T. Sergienko, B. Gustavsson, U. Brändström, and K. Axelsson, ANGEO, 2012, Vol.30, pp. 885-895, SRef-ID: 1432-0576/angeo/2012-30-885,
  • Behavior of substorm auroral arcs and Pi2 waves: implication for the kinetic ballooning instability, by T. F. Chang, C. Z. Cheng, C. Y. Chiang, and A. B. Chen, ANGEO, 2012, Vol.30, pp. 911-926, SRef-ID: 1432-0576/angeo/2012-30-911,
  • On the relaxation of magnetospheric convection when Bz turns northward, by M. C. Kelley, ANGEO, 2012, Vol.30, pp. 927-928, SRef-ID: 1432-0576/angeo/2012-30-927,
Source: Alert Service Subscriptions.