Natural disaster predictions to help scientists refine near space

The quality of weather forecasting and monitoring of natural disasters largely depends on the state of near space. Scientists from the Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Irkutsk) will summarize the results of Russian-Chinese research obtained over 17 years. We are talking about ionospheric disturbances in the East Asian region.

The scientific director of the institute, Academician Geliy Zherebtsov and leading researcher, Doctor of Physics and Mathematics Natalya Perevalova told Rossiyskaya Gazeta how important is the study of the ionosphere and why the attention of scientists was attracted by the East Asian region.

Geliy Aleksandrovich, why is the research of the ionosphere so important now?

Helium Zherebtsov: The ionosphere (the layer of charged particles in the upper atmosphere) is the region of near-Earth space closest to Earth. Now near space is being intensively developed, in fact, there is an expansion of space. And we see that the processes taking place there strongly influence modern technologies.

The quality of operation of all spacecraft and satellite systems, including those intended for telecommunications, weather forecasting, and monitoring of natural disasters, significantly depends on the state of the ionosphere. Near space disturbances affect the operation of large energy systems, pipelines, and communication lines on Earth. Cosmophysical factors (solar flares, magnetic storms, and so on) have a great influence on human health. The focus is now also on the problems of global climate change and their relationship with solar activity.

What is needed to develop an effective system for monitoring and forecasting the negative consequences of space phenomena?

Helium Zherebtsov: Physical processes in all areas of near space are closely interconnected. The system “Sun – interplanetary medium – magnetosphere – ionosphere – neutral atmosphere” should be studied as a whole.

And this requires new tools and methods, the pooling of scientific and technical resources, including broad international cooperation. From the Chinese side, the work was directed by Professor Shi Jiankui, and the main executor, the “engine of work” was Olga Pirog, Candidate of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, a high-class specialist. It is thanks to her efforts that a fantastically huge amount of work has been done to study the response of the ionosphere of the East Asian region to geomagnetic storms. Most of the studies were carried out using data from Russian and Chinese ionospheric stations.

Natalya Petrovna, why is the East Asian region of particular interest for ionospheric research?

Natalia Perevalova: Due to the fact that the geographic and geomagnetic poles of the Earth do not match. The behavior of ionospheric plasma, in frequency, the response to magnetic storms, has its own characteristics, for example, depends on longitude. Moreover, the greatest difference between geomagnetic and geographical coordinates exists precisely in East Asia. It is here that we can investigate all the peculiarities of the “behavior” of the ionosphere.

What data have scientists from the two countries investigated for 17 years?

Natalia Perevalova: We used ground and satellite data, a comprehensive analysis of which made it possible to clarify the mechanisms of the influence of interplanetary, magnetospheric, atmospheric factors on the dynamics of the ionosphere. And also to assess the possibility of using existing theoretical models to reproduce (and in the future and forecast) its spatial-temporal dynamics.

And what results have been obtained during this time?

Natalia Perevalova: Thanks to the combination of the technical capabilities of the institutes, unique information has been obtained about the peculiarities of the ionosphere behavior in the entire latitudinal range of the northern hemisphere: from polar to equatorial latitudes.

Common features and features in the variations in the parameters of the quiet ionosphere at different latitudes of the East Asian region, depending on solar activity, season, time of day, and characteristic features of the response of the ionosphere to geomagnetic storms of various intensities are revealed.

Differences were also established in the response of the ionosphere to geomagnetic storms in the years of high and low solar activity, as well as in different seasons.

All these factors must be taken into account when predicting the characteristics of the ionosphere and the conditions of radio wave propagation in disturbed conditions. A longitudinal alternation of positive and negative ionospheric disturbances was found during some storms. Several types of ionospheric disturbances have been identified that affect the characteristics of radio wave propagation and cause significant interference in radio transmission and navigation systems.

These results made it possible to deepen knowledge about the processes that take place in different latitudinal zones at the heights of the ionosphere, about interactions in the “Sun – magnetosphere – ionosphere – atmosphere” system. And, most importantly, they can be useful in the development of effective systems for diagnosing the state and forecasting hazardous phenomena in near-earth space.

Help WG

The book “Ionospheric Disturbances in the East Asian Region”, where scientists will summarize the results of Russian-Chinese research, will be published with a grant from the Russian Foundation for Basic Research.

A total of 120 applications were submitted for the second stage of the competition. The fund received financial support for 46 projects, including the project of the Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Source: Российская Газета by

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