September 2007 - Research funding awarded to study
Lightning from the top of thunderstorms into space.
Dr. Martin Fullekrug from the Centre for Space,
Atmospheric and Oceanic Science has won research
funding from the Science and Technology Facilities
Research Council to study lightning from the top
of thunderstorms into space: Sprites.
The postdoctoral research assistant employed on the
grant for the next three years, Dr. Toby Whitley,
will deploy a global network of extremeley sensitive
measurement instruments to catch the faint radio signals
from sprites to determine their global occurrence rate
and to elucidate their physical origin.
'Sprites were discovered only 15 years ago...' says
Dr. Fullekrug, '...and now sprites are spotted all around
the world. Yet, it is still not entirely clear when, where
and why sprites strike. Perhaps, their sudden occurrence
is yet one more sign of climate change.' Whatever the
relation to climate change, the physics of sprites is
the prime target of the research: New theories suggest that
energetic charged particles from outer space, such as
cosmic rays, initiate sprites, which, in turn launch
a narrow beam of electrons into near-Earth space. Unfortunately,
these theories can not be tested in the laboratory and the
scientists have to leave their beloved laboratories to make
observations in real nature. The team around Dr. Fullekrug
plans to deploy the instruments
in exotic and remote locations such as South Africa, Australia,
California and in Scotland because human activity heavily
disturbs the sensitive measurements. The first live tests
have recently been carried out in Eskdalemuir in Scotland,
where the British Geological Survey runs a very quiet and
and remote observatory. During these measurements, radio
signals from sprites were captured while they performed several
round-the-world trips within a twinkle of the eye.
Click here to
September 2007 – Major Grant Awarded to Study Waves and Tides at the Edge Of Space.
Professor Nicholas Mitchell and Dr. Ivan Astin of the Centre for Space,
Atmospheric & Oceanic Science in the Department of Electronic & Electrical
Engineering have won research funding totalling £462k from the Science and
Technolgy Facilities Research Council for a 3-year project starting on
October 1st 2007 to study the atmosphere at the edge of space.
The project, “Dynamics & Coupling of the Mesosphere & Lower Thermosphere
Studies with Meteor Radar & EISCAT”, will combine measurements made by
ground-based radars and satellites with the output from sophisticated
models to investigate the mesosphere and thermosphere regions of the
atmosphere at heights of ~ 50 100 km above the ground.
The work will explore how gravity waves, planetary waves and tides in the
atmosphere transport energy and momentum between its different layers, thus
coupling them together. A particular focus will be investigating the impact
of solar variability on these coupling processes. Other studies will
examine the mysterious noctilucent clouds that occur in summer over the
Arctic and sometimes are seen over the UK.
The radars to be used include two meteor radars operated by The University
of Bath. One is at Esrange, the Swedish Space Corporation’s rocket range in
Arctic Sweden. The second is on Ascension Island in the equatorial
Atlantic. The project will also use the international EISCAT facility, the
world’s most sophisticated space-science radar, based at Tromsø in Arctic
Professor Mitchell and Dr. Astin will be joined in the project by PhD
student Victoria Tunbridge and post-doctoral researcher David Sandford.
April 2007 - Philippe Blondel, from the Center for Space,
Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Bath publishes book
on acoustic imaging of toxic waste on the seabed
Toxic waste on the seabed is widespread and has important environmental
implications. Detecting where this waste is, and assessing its likely
impact, is a major technological challenge. This book is the result of 3
years of work by the members of the European project SITAR. Bringing
together the latest research and experiments in acoustic imaging,
biotoxicity and deep-sea engineering, this book shows toxic waste on the
seabed can be mapped and its dangers assessed reliably.
January 2007 – Research funding awarded to study the upper atmosphere using VHF radars
Professor Nick Mitchell and Dr. Ivan Astin have won research funding totalling £334k from the Natural Environment Research Council
for a project entitled "Winds, waves, clouds & meteors in the mesosphere". The project involves using VHF radars in Antarctica, Southern Argentina and the USA to study the upper atmosphere and is in conjunction with the British Antarctic Survey
The mesosphere is that part of the atmosphere at heights of about 50 to 100 km. Unlike the lower atmosphere, the general circulation of the mesosphere is powered, or "driven" by atmospheric waves. These waves are generated in the lower atmosphere, from where they ascend into the mesosphere and break, rather like waves breaking on a beach. Winds, waves, polar mesospheric clouds and meteors are all intimately connected, and attempts to understand one means understanding the others.
This project will use sophisticated meteor radars and airglow cameras to investigate the waves and tides of the mesosphere and to study how it couples to the underlying layers of the atmosphere. The cameras, technically "airglow imagers", record the emissions from faintly glowing layers in the mesosphere. Bright ripple patterns in these layers reveal the presence of atmospheric waves. The meteor radars will measure the drifting of meteors carried by the flow and so reveal the winds, large-scale waves and tides of the mesosphere. The radars will also measure the flux of meteors into the atmosphere and can even measure the temperature of the atmosphere. The project's aim is to discover how the large-scale waves and tides interact with the small-scale waves responsible for driving the circulation.
December 2006 – Martin Fullekrug from the Center for Space, Atmospheric
and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Bath publishes
book on spectacular lightning discharges above
Review of "Sprites, Elves and Intense Lightning Discharges"
(M. Fullekrug, E. Mareev, and M. Rycroft, editors),
Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston/Dordrecht/London, 2006.
by Davis D. Sentman
University of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK 99775, US
The symposium sponsored by the NATO Advanced Study Institute
and held in Corte, Corsica, 24-31 July, 2004 brought together
many of the principle researchers at the forefront of a
relatively new field of geophysical investigation devoted to
studying sporadic, and sometimes spectacular, effects of
thunderstorms and lightning on the upper atmosphere. This new
field was launched in 1989 by the accidental imaging of an upward
electrical discharge from the top of a thunderstorm into the
high atmosphere. Researchers rapidly established that the observed
discharge was a form of mesospheric electrical breakdown driven by
thunderstorm lightning. In subsequent years a bewildering variety of
additional discharge effects driven by thunderstorms were discovered
that, in their totality, span the full space between the lower and
upper atmosphere, ionosphere, and magnetosphere. Most of the
knowledge of these events comes from remote sensing observations
of their optical emissions, which sport fanciful names like Sprites,
Elves, and Jets (collectively Transient Luminous events, or TLEs)
and their associated radio signatures, using technology that has
come into being only within the past few decades. Since its
inception, research in this new field has grown to include
ground- and aircraft-based and satellite programs, with numerous
plans for more sophisticated future studies on the drawing boards
in many countries.
The book presents a snapshot summary of this still rapidly expanding
field as it existed in 2004, and consists of 14 full length papers
and abstracts from 25 posters as presented by an international
community of scholars attending the symposium.
This book is essential reading for new researchers, and will be a
valuable reference for investigators in the field.
July 2006 – Publication of a CSAOS book
We are very happy to announce the publication of the following CSAOS book,
which sums up the latest research in planetary physics:
Blondel, Ph., J. Mason (eds.); "Solar System Update", Praxis-Springer, 329
The topics covered include:
- Dynamic solar atmosphere and "Space Weather"
- The planet Mercury (and the recent discovery of water ice in a few
- Atmosphere of Venus: Current knowledge and future investigations (quite
relevant now that Venus Express has arrived)
- Moon's origin and evolution: by Harrison Schmitt, the Apollo 17
geologist, analysing the samples he collected himself
- Evidence for climate change on Mars (also presented in a recent CSAOS
- Habitability of Mars: Past and present
- Jupiter-sized planets in the Solar System and elsewhere
- Icy moons of Jupiter
- Cassini at Saturn: the first results (including some you only saw in a
recent CSAOS seminar)
- Ice giant systems of Uranus and Neptune
- Solar System beyond the planets
- Nature of comets
March 2006 – Prof Nick Mitchell: Inaugral Lecture
The lecture took place at 6.15pm on Wednesday 29 March 2006 in lecture theatre 2 East 3.1.
Every day, about 40 tons of extra-terrestrial material collides with the earth, most of which is in the form of tiny particles that have come from passing comets.
Using sophisticated radars based at sites stretching from the Arctic to the Antarctic, researchers at the University of Bath detect these meteors as they enter the atmosphere.
By monitoring the movements of these meteors 100km above the surface of the earth, researchers can reveal the intricate dynamics of the meteor region.
They can also use this information to monitor how climate change is affecting the uppermost layer of our atmosphere – known as the mesosphere – at the very edge of space.
“The meteor region is notoriously difficult to investigate, but hosts a wide range of poorly-understood phenomena,” said Professor Nick Mitchell from the University’s Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering.
“Atmospheric tides and waves launched from below are thought to drive its circulation, coupling together different layers of the atmosphere".
“Smoke from meteors acts as condensation nuclei for ghostly, polar noctilucent clouds and the meteor region is home to the giant lightning discharges known as sprites".
“Its great sensitivity has lead to it being called the miner's canary of climate change.”
February 2006 – Conference Announcement: 3rd IAGA/ICMA Workshop
CSAOS is organising the 3rd IAGA/ICMA Workshop on “Vertical Coupling
in the Atmosphere-Ionosphere System”. This workshop will be held in the “Grand Hotel Varna
” located in the Bulgarian seaside resort of St. Elias, near Varna from 18 – 22 September 2006.
01 April 2006: Closing Date for travel support applications of young scientists
30 June 2006: Closing date for abstract submission
01 July 2006: Closing date for early bird registration
The Organizing Committee is happy to announce that financial support is available for
three young scientists (up to 35 years of age) to attend the Workshop. How to apply for
travel support, the full list of solicited speakers and other information about the
Workshop can be found here.
February 2006 – Special Issue of JASTP Published
January 2006 – Dr Ivan Astin and Dr Cathryn Mitchell obtain Funding for
A £165k grant has been awarded by PPARC to two academics from CSAOS. The grant is entitled "Data Assimilation for the Study of Magnetosphere - Ionosphere - Atmosphere Coupling". This will enable, for the first time, UK researchers to apply assimilation techniques to models of the upper atmosphere. Assimilation is a technique by which models and data are optimally combined. Through this will come a greater understanding of the physical and chemical processes underlying ionospheric phenomena, such as space-weather storms.
December 2005 – Dr Robert Watson and Dr Adrian Evans Obtain Funding for
Real-Time Propagation Forecasting
A £190k grant has been awarded by EPSRC to two academics from the CSAOS. The
grant entitled “Improving spectrum utilization by real-time propagation forecasting” builds upon previous work performed within the centre. The research aims to provide a forecast of the fade level on a communication link using a mixture of mesoscale meteorological forecasting techniques and radio-wave propagation theory. The ability to forecast the fade level can provide significant efficiency and availability improvements for communication links operating above 20 GHz.
Further information on the unique forecasting technique can be found at
October 2005 - Prof. Paul Cannon, Dr Robert Watson and Dr Cathryn Mitchell
obtain EPSRC funding to study ionospheric effects on space based radar
A £350K grant has been awarded to a group of CSAOS academics. In order for a
space-based radar to "see" through vegetation and tree canopies relatively
low frequencies are required (100-1000MHz). At these low frequencies the
radar signals are distorted by the atmosphere, in particular the ionosphere.
The signal distortion degrades the quality of the images produced. The grant
will fund a measurement campaign close to the equator where the effects are
largest. The measurement equipment will be deployed in Spring 2006 on
Ascension Island in the South Atlantic ocean. The measured data will be
analysed and algorithms developed to compensate for the effects of the
September 2005 - Prof. Nick Pace and Dr Philippe Blondel organise an
international acoustics conference at the University of Bath
In September 2005, a major conference took place on campus, dedicated to
"Boundary influences in high frequency, shallow water acoustics". With
sponsorship from the US Office of Naval Research, DSTL, the NATO Undersea
Research Centre and the Institute of Acoustics, this conference hosted
close to 100 scientists from all over the world. 62 talks presented recent
results from major experimental programmes in the fields of mine
countermeasures, underwater communications and seabed mapping. They were
supplemented with research articles published in a
book (ISBN 0861971337).
Further information can be found on the conference web site:
May / June 2005 Special Issue of JASTP Published,
edited by Martin Fullekrug
March 2005 – New Radar Successfully Deployed in Antarctica
A new meteor radar has been successfully deployed at Rothera Point, Antarctica. The radar became operational 14th Feb 2005. The system was funded as part of a £289k grant from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) under the Antarctic Funding Initiative. The grant is held jointly with the British Antarctic Survey (Grant holders: N. J. Mitchell & P. J. Espy). Dr. Peter Younger of the Centre visited Rothera as part of the installation.
A gallery of photographs taken by Peter is here