MENLO PARK, Calif. June 2 , 2009 SRI International, an independent nonprofit research institute, announced today that early scientific results are now available from the Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radar (AMISR), a modular, transportable radar system funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that has recently completed the first two years of operation .
Scientists are using the novel system to investigate the interaction of upper atmospheric phenomena, which are driven by energetic particles and the solar wind that cause spectacular displays of the aurora borealis, with lower atmospheric phenomena such as tropospheric storms and weather patterns. Remote operation and electronic beam steering allows researchers to operate and position the radar beam instantaneously to accurately measure rapidly changing space weather events.
"The AMISR system is unique among upper atmospheric radars in that it is capable of observing small-scale and temporally dynamic phenomena such as the aurora and space weather storms. Scientists need to understand how the upper atmosphere behaves on these scales to adequately study climate change and other processes linked to the transfer of energy and momentum from the surface of the sun to Earth's atmosphere," said Robert Robinson, AMISR program manager at NSF.
New Research Investigates Auroral Arcs and High-Altitude Clouds
A recent issue of the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics (JASTP) is dedicated to early research results from the Poker Flat, Alaska deployment of AMISR (known as PFISR).
The article, "Coordinated Optical and Radar Image Measurements of Noctilucent Clouds and Polar Mesospheric Summer Echoes," by Michael Taylor, Ph.D., professor at Utah State University, describes the first detailed investigation of the common horizontal and vertical structures of radar and optical mesospheric clouds. These are the highest altitude clouds, which
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