At The Cusp Of The 21St Century: The Next Generation Of Geospace Research Facilities At South Pole And Mcmurdo Stations

Project: Research project

Project Details


The near-Earth (Geospace) environment is mostly controlled by the geomagnetic field that protects life on the planet from phenomena of electromagnetic nature, such as major geomagnetic storms caused by solar flares and coronal mass ejection. Some of these events could be dangerous affecting Earth's artificial satellites, damaging their instrumentation and disrupting communication with ground centers. The Earth's magnetic field has some specific regions where it exposes the upper atmosphere and ionosphere for all these impacts from outer space. The polar caps are specific areas around the geomagnetic poles, where geomagnetic field lines are open and directly interact with the interplanetary magnetic field (extended magnetic fields of the Sun). During strong geomagnetic disturbances, the polar caps increase their size, sometimes dramatically. Monitoring the Earth polar regions, ionospheric currents that flow over these regions, polar cap boundaries dynamics, etc., are important for space weather studies. Many geospace-monitoring stations are deployed over the northern polar cap and auroral zone on a regular basis, but the southern polar cap and auroral zone are left much behind due to enormous difficulties for people to reach the Antarctic and stay there. Thus, a more holistic approach to the geospace research is needed for the Antarctic - the one that integrates clustered instrumentation at multiple locations to have a simultaneous look at the solar wind interactions within the entire Geospace system. This project will support studies of interrelated geospace phenomena observed at southern high latitudes through the coordinated and collaborative effort deploying and maintaining respective instrumentation at the U.S. Antarctic stations McMurdo, South Pole, and Palmer. The suite of geospace instrumentation at these stations has a sustained track-record of robust operation and community support: ground-based fluxgate and search-coils magnetometers, ELF and VLF receivers, imaging and broadband riometers, sky-looking optical systems, GPS scintillation-rated receivers, and several other instruments. Measurements collected from these instruments can be synergistically combined for the studies of synoptic variabilities of the magnetospheric open-closed boundary and associated cusp structures, understanding ELF whistler events and their relationship to ionospheric conditions, doing VLF diagnostics of magnetospheric conditions, and investigating the GPS signal scintillation occurrence and strength in relation to the magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling processes. These topics are only a partial listing of the research effort that can be performed with the data obtained from the Antarctic geospace instruments, especially via the already established and planned collaborations with other geospace projects operating across Antarctica and at magnetically conjugate regions in the Arctic. The project will train and educate young scientists, graduate, and undergraduate students.
Effective start/end date9/1/178/31/22


  • National Science Foundation


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.