Tuesday, 31 July 2012

ISR Summer School: AMISR visiting!

The colleagues from SRI International, the organisation behind the Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radar (AMISR), brought an example of the smallest unit with them to Banff, Canada, to show it to the participants of the ISR Summer School.

The photo on the left shows an Antenna Element Unit, or AEU.  The AEU is a little radar in itself, since it is both a transmitter and receiver. Breaking a high-power radar such as an incoherent scatter radar into many, many small units like this has the advantage that every unit runs at relatively low power, which is easier to construct.

A typical AMISR deployment, like PFISR at Poker Flat or the RISRs at Resolute Bay, have 4096 AEUs. These are arranged in smaller units such that 32 AEUs make up a panel, 8 panels make up a group, and finally 16 groups are called a face, which is a complete deployment. However, depending on purpose and funding, the radars can be made much larger (i.e. more power and resolution) and/or panels can be arranged in a different way in order to achieve a specific spatial resolution pattern.

Tomorrow, the ISR Summer School will go on an excursion in order to get out of the conference centre for a while, and the blog will be updated only afterwards.

Photo: Thomas Ulich.

ISR Summer School – Discussing Radar Data

Part of the exercise for the participants of the ISR Summer School here in Banff, Canada, was to study a set of incoherent scatter radar data plots, which were distributed without caption. The idea was to become familiar with how to read these data, and how to see what phenomena they contain. Often this is not easy, and sometimes a lively discussion began between the instructors, one of these moments in captured in the photo above.

Thereafter yesterday's Madrigal exercises were discussed, and Bill Rideout, who is the main developer of Madrigal, expressed his gratitude to have 37 eager testers for the new Madrigal release, since a few small problems have been identified, which often become apparent only once a software tool is taken into proper use.

Today the school continues with lectures by Elizabeth Kendall, Anthea Coster, Josh Semeter, Phil Erickson, Anja Strømme, and Craig Heinselman. In the afternoon, there's more group work on the schedule, and now it's getting serious: by a strict deadline at 18:15 h, all groups have to submit a proposal for a radar experiment, which will be run overnight. The data from these experiments will be used for group work during the rest of the week, which culminates in the group presentations on Saturday. Thus there's a lot of exiting stuff ahead during this week.

Photos: Thomas Ulich.

Monday, 30 July 2012

AMISR Radar School - Day 1

The first day of the ISR Summer School in Banff, Canada, is drawing to a close. After an initial set of lectures given by Elizabeth Kendall, Anthea Coster, Anja Strømme, and Bill Rideout, all students have split into seven groups to think about their first exercise. Bill Rideout presented a lecture on how to use the Madrigal database, which is a distributed system hosting incoherent scatter radar data, and thus the first task is about learning how to use Madrigal, which also contains EISCAT radar data.

Also Phil Erickson presented a brief impromptu overview of the flow of signals within a radar system during which he also tested the souvenir given to all participants: the bright-red ISR Tinfoil Toque.

For your convenience, the whiteboard drawing is reproduced here, including the link to all AMISR radar schools. Also the lectures of the current school will be available for download at that site.

Just in time for the barbecue, which is planned for tonight, the weather seems to have decided that it's enough with boring sunshine, and it seems to be getting slightly more interesting while I am typing this.

Click on the photos to get better resolution versions.

Photos: Thomas Ulich.

ISR Summer School underway in Banff, Canada

This morning, the Incoherent Scatter Radar (ISR) Summer School, organised by the University of Calgary and sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) began in Banff, Canada. The school, which has attracted a record 37 students from all over the world, takes place in stunning scenery and everyone's enjoying fantastic summer weather.

The photo shows the conference centre on the right, in which the school takes place. It is taken from the balcony of the restaurant, in which breakfast was served this morning.

By the way, if you are interested in learning the technique of incoherent scatter radars, there's another radar school this year, which still has some places left, the EISCAT Radar School.

Photo: Thomas Ulich.

Vacancy: PhD studentship in Auroral Studies, Fairbanks, Alaska


The project will investigate the Aurora and auroral phenomena, focusing on plasma irregularities in the ionospheric E region using radio techniques, particularly with coherent High Frequency radars in Antarctica within the Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN). The Space Physics Group at the Department of Physics and Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) has a funded PhD position available. This position is available immediately and it will remain open until it is filled. The student's research will be undertaken under the supervision of Dr Roman Makarevich.

Information on the Department of Physics at UAF can be found on its webpage: http://www.uaf.edu/physics/. Information about the Space Physics Group and Geophysical Institute at UAF can be found here: http://www.gi.alaska.edu/research/spacephysics/. Information about the Aurora and auroral activity in Alaska can be found here http://www.gi.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast. Information about the SuperDARN project can be found here: http://superdarn.jhuapl.edu/ or http://vt.superdarn.org.

QUALIFICATIONS: Candidates should have received a master's degree in physics, or equivalent, at the start of the PhD project. A candidate is sought with good background in space physics and with experience in geophysical data analysis. The ideal candidate would be proficient in IDL, Fortran or Matlab and also have experience in ionospheric physics and radar data analysis.

APPROVAL and ENROLLMENT: The study will be under the University of Alaska Fairbanks PhD Space Physics program, and the admittance to this program is subject to academic approval. For information about the requirements for enrollment and the general planning of PhD study at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, see http://www.uaf.edu/physics/graduate-programs/.

FUNDING and SCHOLARSHIP: The successful PhD student will be awarded a Research Assistantship and a stipend covering 3 years of PhD study. The PhD candidate will be also given an opportunity for a Teaching Assistantship for 1 year.

APPLICATION PROCESS: Candidates should initially contact Dr. Roman Makarevich to express interest and apply for the position. The student who is selected for the position will then go through the normal enrolment process for PhD study at UAF. Applicants will need full CV and academic transcript demonstrating that their existing record meets the requirements of the PhD program and this research project. If English is not your native language, results of a standard English test are also required.

FURTHER INFORMATION on the project: Dr Roman Makarevich, r.makarevich at gi.alaska.edu, http://www2.gi.alaska.edu/~romanmak/.

Text R. Makarevich, photo of Fairbanks from Wikimedia Commons (source).

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

EISCAT Radar School – Last Chance to Register!

Due to cancellations, the 

deadline for registration 

has been

extended to 7th August 2012!

Please register now via http://www.sgo.fi/Events/RS2012/.



In the near future the EISCAT Scientific Association will face a major instrumental upgrade with the ESFRI Roadmap project "EISCAT_3D: A European Three-Dimensional Imaging Radar for Atmospheric and Geospace Research."

EISCAT, in co-operation with the Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory (SGO), will run a training course for new users of the EISCAT radars, from 27th August to 1st September, 2012 (Monday to Saturday). The training course will be held at Sodankylä, where one of the EISCAT UHF remote sites is located.

The course will cover all essential aspects of the current EISCAT systems, including their science programme. An overview of the existing hardware and software will be provided and future plans will be discussed, with a strong emphasis on EISCAT_3D. Tips on analysing and working with the data will be given and the participants will run an own radar experiment in a hand-on exercise.

The lecturers comprise members of the EISCAT staff and experienced scientists from the user community. As well as providing a good foundation for new EISCAT users, the course will also provide a chance for more established users to be updated on the latest and future developments.

The deadline for registration in the course is 7th August, 2012.

For more information please visit http://www.sgo.fi/Events/RS2012/.

Photo of participants and teachers of the International EISCAT Radar School 2010, which was held at Sodoankylä, too, by Jyrki Manninen.

Tuesday, 24 July 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!
  • Topological skeleton of the 2-D slightly non-ideal MHD system close to X-type magnetic null points - an analysis of the general solution for the generic case, by D. H. Nickeler, M. Karlický, and M. Bárta, ANGEO, 2012, Vol.30, pp. 1015-1023, SRef-ID: 1432-0576/angeo/2012-30-1015, http://direct.sref.org/1432-0576/angeo/2012-30-1015.
  • Spatial distribution of rolled up Kelvin-Helmholtz vortices at Earth's dayside and flank magnetopause, by M. G. G. T. Taylor, H. Hasegawa, B. Lavraud, T. Phan, C. P. Escoubet, M. W. Dunlop, Y. V. Bogdanova, A. L. Borg, M. Volwerk, J. Berchem, O. D. Constantinescu, J. P. Eastwood, A. Masson, H. Laakso, J. Soucek, A. N. Fazakerley, H. U. Frey, E. V. Panov, C. Shen, J. K. Shi, D. G. Sibeck, Z. Y. Pu, J. Wang, and J. A. Wild, ANGEO, 2012, Vol.30, pp. 1025-1035, SRef-ID: 1432-0576/angeo/2012-30-1025, http://direct.sref.org/1432-0576/angeo/2012-30-1025.
  • Variability of MLT winds and waves over mid-latitude during the 2000/2001 and 2009/2010 winter stratospheric sudden warming, by X. Chen, X. Hu, and C. Xiao, ANGEO, 2012, Vol.30, pp. 991-1001, SRef-ID: 1432-0576/angeo/2012-30-991, http://direct.sref.org/1432-0576/angeo/2012-30-991.
  • Energetic electrons along the high-latitude magnetopause, by B. M. Walsh, S. E. Haaland, P. W. Daly, E. A. Kronberg, and T. A. Fritz, ANGEO, 2012, Vol.30, pp. 1003-1013, SRef-ID: 1432-0576/angeo/2012-30-1003, http://direct.sref.org/1432-0576/angeo/2012-30-1003.
  • Spectral characteristics and scatter cross-section of low latitude mesospheric echoes measured by the Indian MST radar at Gadanki, by E. Belova, S. Kirkwood, T. Narayana Rao, S. Satheesh Kumar, and T. Sergienko, ANGEO, 2012, Vol.30, pp. 983-990, SRef-ID: 1432-0576/angeo/2012-30-983, http://direct.sref.org/1432-0576/angeo/2012-30-983.
  • On the relationship between magnetic cloud field polarity and geoeffectiveness, by E. K. J. Kilpua, Y. Li, J. G. Luhmann, L. K. Jian, and C. T. Russell, ANGEO, 2012, Vol.30, pp. 1037-1050, SRef-ID: 1432-0576/angeo/2012-30-1037, http://direct.sref.org/1432-0576/angeo/2012-30-1037.
  • Weibel instability in a plasma with nonzero external magnetic field, by O. A. Pokhotelov and M. A. Balikhin, ANGEO, 2012, Vol.30, pp. 1051-1054, SRef-ID: 1432-0576/angeo/2012-30-1051, http://direct.sref.org/1432-0576/angeo/2012-30-1051.
  • Temperature thresholds for chlorine activation and ozone loss in the polar stratosphere, by K. Drdla and R. Müller, ANGEO, 2012, Vol.30, pp. 1055-1073, SRef-ID: 1432-0576/angeo/2012-30-1055, http://direct.sref.org/1432-0576/angeo/2012-30-1055.
Source: COSIS.net Alert Service Subscriptions.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Two sunsets in a day?

Today something weird happens in Sodankylä, which is located at 67° 25' N, 26° 35' E: Today, the Sun will set twice! Since the first sunset after the end of the Polar Day on 14th July 2012, the "nights" have been so short that, due to the Daylight Saving Time, the sunset happened after midnight and the sunrise soon afterwards. Today, on Friday, 20th July 2012, "yesterday's" Sun will set at 00:05 hrs, i.e. just after midnight of the new calendar day.  Then the sun will rise again for the new day at 02:36 hrs. In between it will not get dark at all, because the Sun will only dip very little below the northern horizon.

As the nights are getting longer now by about 14 min per day, "today's" sunset will not anymore be after midnight, but it will happen on the same day, at 23:58 hrs. Therefore, today there will be two sunsets, one at 00:05 hrs, and one at 23:58 hrs.

Photo of sunset by Thomas Ulich.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Craig Heinselman new EISCAT Director

The EISCAT Council has appointed a new Director to take over from Dr Esa Turunen when he leaves at the end of the year. Dr Craig Heinselman will join EISCAT on 1st January 2013 as the new Director of the EISCAT Scientific Association.

Dr Heinselman is today working at SRI International, Stanford, USA, as Principal investigator and project leader for the Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radar (AMISR) Operation and Maintenance. He will have his office at the EISCAT Headquarters in Kiruna, Sweden, where he will also live.

See also: Dr Heinselman's Curriculum Vitae (pdf).

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Radar Session at COSPAR 2012, Mysore, India

At Mysore, India, the 39th 39th Scientific Assembly of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) has begun.  The meeting will take place during the present week from 14th to 22nd July 2012.

Today, Tuesday, 17th July, there will be a whole-day session on "New generation middle and upper atmosphere radars: application and development" (Session C0.3). This is a cross-disciplinary session aimed to foster discussion among scientists using the same tool for observation, which should lead to transfer of useful methods between different radar applications.

In 2012, the development of a number of new radar facilities will have advanced significantly: for instance, PANSY will be in operation, hopefully the US Antarctic AMISR will be under construction, and the FP7 EISCAT_3D Preparatory Phase Project will have reached half-time. This session aims to find synergies between different groups using existing and future radars to study the middle and upper atmosphere and ionosphere. Discussions are envisaged of recent scientific results and radar applications as well as development of measurement methods and their implementation.

This session is especially targeted to science communities working with incoherent scatter radars, meteor radars, coherent ionospheric radars (SuperDARN etc), MST radars, ionosondes etc.

Welcome to join this session today at COSPAR 2012!

Photo of Mysore Palace from Wikimedia Commons (source).

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

EISCAT_3D Science Case Update: June 2012

Version 2 (June 2012) of the EISCAT_3D Science Case has been published and is available on the EISCAT_3D project web site from today. This is the second annual update of the science case and includes contributions from the current members of the Science Working Group (Work Package 3) which, over the past year, has focused on examining the potential uses of EISCAT_3D in the areas of space weather and space debris.

The Science Working Group convenors, Anita Aikio and Ian McCrea, would like to express their gratitude to this year’s working group members:
  • Lucilla Alfonsi (INGV, Rome, Italy),
  • Hervé Lamy (Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels, Belgium),
  • Frédéric Pitout (Univ. Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France),
  • Iwona Stanislawska (Space Research Centre, Warsaw, Poland), and
  • Juha Vierinen (Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory, Finland).
We would also like to thank a number of other international colleagues who have contributed ideas or material for our discussions, without taking part in the meetings. Particular thanks go to Lucilla Alfonsi and to Stephan Buchert (Uppsala University, Sweden) for hosting the meetings of the working group during the past year.

Text: Ian McCrea; image: Cover page of Science Case version 2.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Vacancy: Solar Wind-Magnetosphere Coupling and Atmospheric Chemistry, Lancaster

A three year Senior Research Associate post is available in Space Plasma Environment and Radio Science (SPEARS) group, Physics Department, Lancaster University. This vacancy is associated with a programme of research aiming to address energy and momentum coupling between the Earth's magnetic field and the solar wind which leads to the precipitation of charged particles into the upper atmosphere and generates odd nitrogen (NOx), influencing the chemistry and dynamics of the atmosphere. This is an important mechanism by which solar activity can influence the atmosphere beyond atmospheric waves and solar irradiance. The post is funded by NERC as part of the joint research programme between Lancaster University and British Antarctic Survey.

The research will involve characterising electron precipitation by exploiting measurements from two existing global arrays: riometer measurements of cosmic radio noise absorption (CNA) and changes of the sub-ionospheric propagation of very low frequency (VLF) radio waves.

Applicants should have a PhD in Physics and a demonstrated strength in the area of Solar-Terrestrial Physics. Lancaster University Physics Department is strongly committed to fostering diversity within its community as a source of excellence, cultural enrichment, and social strength. We welcome those who would contribute to the further diversification of our department.

Closing Date: Sunday, 22 July 2012.

Further information and online application can be found at http://hr-jobs.lancs.ac.uk/Vacancy.aspx?ref=A454. Specific enquiries may be directed to Prof. Farideh Honary, f -dot- honary -at- lancaster -dot- ac -dot- uk.

Text: Farideh Honary. Photo: Wikimedia Commons (source).

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Call for Papers: Chapman Conference on Geographic Dependence of Space Weather, Addis Ababa

In an earlier blog post, we announced the International AGU Chapman Conference on "Longitude and Hemispheric Dependence of Space Weather," which will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 12th to 16th November 2012.


The conference will focus on two overarching themes:
  1. How does the ionospheric response to major solar events depend on hemisphere and longitude; and
  2. Expand the study of space weather to include day-to-day ionospheric variability, i.e., to those times when solar and geomagnetic activities are moderate and forcing from the lower atmosphere drives a lot of the variability.
Deadline for abstracts: 12th July 2012.

For more information, please refer to the conference web site, which is now on-line.

Text: Tim Fuller-Rowell. Photo: Wikimedia Commons (source).

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Science of Mosquitos

Summer in EISCAT-land is a wonderful time: the sun is up 24 hours, temperatures are somewhere between "too cold" and "too hot", and landscape as well as radars are just stunning. It could be so perfect, if not for a tiny ingredient, that can turn the nature in Lapland into a hell for some: mosquitos.

These little insects seem to inspire a lot of stories, and in some of these, they grow in the same manner as fish grow in the stories of fishermen while the evening progresses. But some people get inspired by  mosquitos, which set their inquisitive mind spinning. Recently, we came across the article "How a mosquito survives a raindrop hit" in ScienceNews, which details a research of what happens when a mozzie is hit by a water drop.

It turns out that the insect will not just be squashed to the ground, but instead "rides the drop" in free fall, and separates from it just at the right time to reach a target faster or before hitting the ground.

Mosquitos have also been used to explain certain phenomena in plasma physics, but that's another story.

For more info, please refer to the original article at ScienceNews.org.

Photo credit: Tim Nowack, Andrew Dickerson and David Hu/Georgia Tech (photo from the article).

Monday, 2 July 2012

Course: Astrophysical and Space Plasmas, l'Aquila

The International School of Space Science of the Consorzio Interuniversitario per la Fisica Spaziale organises a course on "Astrophysical and Space Plasmas", to be held in L'Aquila, Italy, 2nd to 8th September 2012, and directed by A. Ferrari, M. Tavani, B. Coppi and R. Rosner.

The aim of the course is to present a comprehensive discussion of the plasma processes relevant to the astrophsyical context, from low energy phenomena in planetary systems to the very high energy objects recently discovered through X and gamma ray observatories. Introductory lectures will be dedicated to an analysis of observations available from ground and space observatories enlightening the thermal and non-thermal plasma processes necessary for their interpretation. At the same time the theoretical tools, analytical and numerical, necessary for their interpretation will be presented from an institutional point of view. Finally current models of the astrophysical objects and phenomena will be discussed with particular attention to the critical points with the objective of selecting new research lines.

For further information visit http://www.cifs-isss.org/ or send an e-mail to ssc -at- aquila -dot- infn -dot- it.

Deadline extended to 10th July 2012.

Text: Paola Solini. Photo: Wikimedia Commons (source).