International radar community converges on UNIS
Top image: The SuperDARN workshop group in front of the Kjell Henriksen Observatory (KHO). Photo: Xiangcai Chen/UNIS
Norway’s first ever international SuperDARN workshop was arranged in late May. Almost 50 scientists from 11 countries met in Longyearbyen to discuss upper atmospheric and auroral research, facilitating research collaboration on a global scale.
6 June 2014
Text: Lisa Baddeley, Associate professor in radar applications
SuperDARN (which stands for Super Dual Auroral Radar Network – https://superdarn.org/tiki-index.php) is a network of over 30 radar facilities which continuously monitor the Earth’s ionosphere (the region from ~100–500 km in altitude) over both the Northern and Southern polar regions.
These facilities allow scientists to track the motion of charged particles which flow like a gigantic weather system transferring energy and momentum across the region. The aurora is the visible signature of this energy transfer.
From 25–30 May UNIS hosted Norway’s first ever international SuperDARN workshop. Almost 50 scientists from 11 countries met in Longyearbyen to discuss upper atmospheric and auroral research.
Collaboration on a global scale
After long days of discussions and presentations, the group embarked on several excursions, one of which was to the Kjell Henriksen Observatory (KHO). Drinks and nibbles, as well as arctic conditions, were enjoyed by all at KHO as professor Dag Lorentzen and professor Fred Sigernes provided tours of the research facility.
– I was happy to see that the scientists were impressed by our state-of-the-art facilities and we had several requests for installing instrumentation at the KHO. This goes to show the importance of holding and attending workshops and conferences since it enhances scientific collaborations in a manner not otherwise possible, said professor Dag Lorentzen.
The workshop also celebrated the construction of Norway’s first upper atmospheric SuperDARN radar (which will begin this summer on Breinosa). The facility will be owned and operated by the Space Physics research group at UNIS.
– The construction of this radar represents a great achievement for upper atmospheric research not only in Svalbard but in Norway as a whole. The radar field of view will cover an area of approx. 3 million square km, making continuous measurements over a region of the ionosphere not previously monitored, said Lorentzen.
Professor Mark Lester (from the University of Leicester, UK ) who is the head of the SuperDARN radar community, was very happy to be at UNIS for the SuperDARN workshop.
– SuperDARN represents a fantastic example of how the international research community can collaborate on a global scale and we are very excited that UNIS, and Norway, is becoming an integral part of that community. This workshop has also given us chance to see for ourselves the research infra-structure at UNIS, such as the KHO, and I am sure this will lead to even more scientific collaborations, Lester concluded.