|April 21, 2000||Volume 7, Number 15|
Sofko gets $850,000 to fund SuperDARN team
U of S Physics Prof. George Sofko will receive more than $850,000 over the next five years from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) to hire researchers on four campuses to help analyse space weather data from an international space radar network.
Sofkos grant is one of 15 awarded under NSERCs Collaborative Research Opportunities program.
An April 7 U of S Research news release stated Sofko will distribute $170,000 annually for the next five years to the partner Universities of Saskatchewan, Alberta, Western Ontario and New Brunswick.
"We desperately need these scientists to harvest the fruits of the large investment in the Canadian portion of international SuperDARN (Super Dual Auroral Radar Network) project," Sofko said.
"Their research could aid in the development of reliable space weather models to provide warnings of dangerous space weather conditions."
Sofko said space weather has become a major issue for the world economy: "Multi-million-dollar damages are the consequence of satellites and electrical power grids being ripped apart by super powerful solar winds that strike the Earths outer atmosphere," he said.
With a sunspot maximum expected this year, its likely Canada will experience harmful space weather conditions similar to those of 1989.
SuperDARN has set up radar centres in 10 countries to monitor space weather.
The headquarters for copying and distributing the radar data is at the Institute of Space and Atmospheric Studies (ISAS) in the U of S Dept. of Physics and Engineering Physics.
At the U of S, the funds will be used to pay ISAS research associate Chao-Sung Huang to analyse the radar data and measure wind systems at high altitudes.
Sofko noted there has been great progress in the monitoring of space weather in Canada since Quebecs great storm in 1989. Since then, large investments have been made by NSERC, the Canadian Space Agency, and American counterparts to set up two radar systems in Canada.
The radar systems run by the Canadian SuperDARN team are located in Saskatoon whose partner facility is a U.S.-run radar at Kapuskasing, Ont. and in Prince George whose partner facility is in Kodiak, Alaska.
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