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CEDAR Conference Participants Dig Into Science of Interest to Radio Amateurs

07/01/2015

It was a meeting of the minds as more than 300 scientists — many of them radio amateurs — met at the University of Washington in Seattle during the week of June 21 for the annual National Science Foundation-sponsored Coupling, Energetics, and Dynamics of Atmospheric Regions (CEDAR) Conference. CEDAR is a broad-based, community-guided upper-atmosphere research program. The program focuses on the science of atmospheric regions from the middle atmosphere (~30 km altitude) through space. This region includes the ionosphere, and the CEDAR workshop discussed issues highly relevant to Amateur Radio HF propagation.

“The middle atmosphere is particularly difficult to study, as it is generally too high for sounding rockets and balloons, and too low for most satellites,” explained Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF, a graduate student at Virginia Tech who attended the CEDAR workshop. “Thus, it is difficult to make in-situ measurements, and remote sensing techniques are very important.” Frissell said it’s also very difficult, because of its size, to take sufficient measurements that truly characterize the whole Earth-space system.

Noteworthy topics at the CEDAR workshop included ionospheric and neutral atmospheric response to geomagnetic storms and space weather, atmospheric gravity waves and traveling ionospheric disturbances, and the coupling of the ionosphere and middle atmosphere to space. Frissell delivered a presentation, “Using Amateur Radio Signals with the CARINA Satellite,” during the conference, in collaboration with Magda Moses, KM4EGE, a Virginia Tech undergraduate, Ethan Miller, K8GU, of JHU/APL, Steve Kaeppler, AD0AE, of SRI, and the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN). Frissell said his presentation prompted the recent experiment that had the Canadian CASSIOPE satellite listen for Field Day signals.

Scientists on hand at the CEDAR event represented many major ionospheric and upper-atmosphere research programs, including the Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN), the Incoherent Scatter Radar Network (including Arecibo and MIT Millstone Hill), the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), GPS Total Electron Content Receivers, LIDAR remote sensing technology, and rocket facilities.

Moses’ workshop poster presentation, “Experiment Design to Assess Ionospheric Perturbations During a Solar Eclipse,” discussed how solar eclipses offer an opportunity to determine the dependence of the ionosphere on sunlight. She is working with her advisor, Gregory Earle, W4GDE, and Frissell. A total solar eclipse will occur over the US in August 2017. Moses’ plan is to observe whether unique ionospheric responses may be witnessed during an eclipse. “This will be accomplished using a nationwide network of GPS receivers as well as coherent scatter radars and a variety of techniques involving Amateur Radio,” her poster explained. The experiment would make use of the RBN and involve an Eclipse QSO Party.

Many of the Amateur Radio-scientists who attended are interested in further connecting the Amateur Radio and science communities, Frissell pointed out. “These conferences are extremely important, because the only way we have a chance at gaining understanding of the Earth-Space system is to have the entire scientific community work together to identify strategies for making progress,” he said, noting that many of the CEDAR talks were about building networks of instruments and sharing data to tackle problems of interest to all involved. “This is one reason I think using the RBN — and similar networks — is important,” he said, “because they provide a global view that complements other observational techniques.”

University of Washington Electrical Engineering Professor John Sahr, WB7NWP, served as the 2015 CEDAR host. He is also the trustee for the school’s Amateur Radio club, W7YD. — Thanks to Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF



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