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AMISR In Africa

"AMISR In Africa" Workshop

March 1-3, 2012

Advanced Modular Incoherent Scattering Radar (AMISR). Artist's illustration by V. Moore, SRI International.

Boston College hosted the "AMISR In Africa" Workshop at Brighton, Massachusetts, USA on March 1 - 3, 2012. Attendance was by invitation only. For further information, contact: Endawoke Yizengaw, Mark Moldwin, or Anthea Coster.

The objective of this workshop was to identify the scientific and societal motivations for hosting an Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radar (AMISR) in Ethiopia. The workshop also addressed logistical issues associated with this plan, and outlined the major hurdles to be overcome.


To date, the vast majority of equatorial incoherent scatter radar (ISR) measurements have been collected at Jicamarca, Peru, so that much of what we know about equatorial physics is based on Jicamarca ISR observations.

However, Jicamarca is in the American sector where the geomagnetic equator dips, and there is a fairly large excursion between the geomagnetic and geodetic equator. On the other hand, in the African sector the geomagnetic equator is fairly well aligned with the geodetic equator. Moreover, observational results from different satellites have indicated that the equatorial ionosphere in the African sector responds differently from other sectors. However, the uneven distribution of ground-based instruments has been the main barrier that hinders our ability to obtain a global understanding of the dynamics and structures of the ionosphere.

In regions like Africa, observations of the ionosphere are currently not possible due to lack of ground-based instruments. During the past couple of years very few (compared to the land-mass that Africa covers) small instruments, such as GPS receivers, magnetometers, and VLF instruments have been deployed in the region. However, to understand the dynamics of this region and the formation of ionospheric irregularities which can severely impact navigation and communication systems, those few instruments are far from enough. Therefore, adding a single ISR to the limited space science instrumentation in the equatorial African sector would be of significant scientific benefit.

In addition to its scientific importance, the proposed addition of AMISR to Africa will have other significant impacts for both the U.S. and Africa. It will have a direct impact in advancing space science research in Africa by establishing and furthering sustainable research/training infrastructure within Africa so that more young scientists will be educated in their own country. This will not only enhance the research/training infrastructure but it will also play a vital role in the future socioeconomic development of Africa.

For the United States, this project will serve as a vehicle to create opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students to participate in different phases of the development and deployment process. This will provide US students with high quality international research experiences, which will be quite important for the US scientific community to continue its leading international scientific stature in the future. The experience may provide opportunities for students to gain expertise in instrument calibration, deployment, data analysis, remote-sensing, computer modeling, data assimilation, and grid-based computing and data retrieval.


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Workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation.