Heliosphere Impact on Geospace

Project Description
Short Title: ICESTAR/IHY
Project URL: http://www.ipy-id63.org/
Proposal URL: http://classic.ipy.org/development/eoi/proposal-details.php?id=63

ICESTAR/IHY will coordinate multinational research on solar-generated events which affect the composition and dynamics of the atmosphere in the terrestrial polar areas. The activity brings together two complementary programmes: the International Heliophysical Year (IHY) (EoI 172) is an international programme to coordinate the use of current and forthcoming spacecraft missions with ground-based observatory instruments to study the Sun's influence on the heliosphere, including effects at the Earth; ICESTAR (EoI 554), endorsed by SCAR, aims to coordinate research on magnetospheric and ionospheric responses to solar inputs, with emphases on the networking of ground-based instrument networks and the study of inter-hemispheric relationships.

The proposed joint project includes the collective effort of 24 international consortia which submitted their Expressions of Intent (EoIs) to the IPY call in January 2005. Between them, these groups already run a large body of instrumentation in both the Arctic and the Antarctic to support this research programme. Several consortia are also proposing to install new instruments in the polar regions to significantly improve the spatial coverage and resolution and to provide pairs of geomagnetically conjugate observations from both the hemispheres. The resulting observations and value-added data products will be used together with state-of-the-art models and simulations to improve our quantitative understanding of the near-Earth space environment.

The scientific goals of the 24 EoIs can be categorised under the following three main themes:

(i) Coupling processes between the different atmospheric layers and their connection with the solar activity: E.g. effects of mid-atmospheric circulation and extreme solar activity on the content of stratospheric ozone and minor constituents, variations of the cosmic ray fluxes above the polar areas and South Atlantic Anomaly, energy transfer from powerful weather fronts to geospace heights and using novel technology for stratospheric magnetic field measurements.

(ii) Energy and mass exchange between the ionosphere and the magnetosphere: E.g. multiscale and tomographic studies of ionospheric phenomena (auroral precipitation, convection, turbulence and electron content) as driven by magnetospheric and solar activity, remote-sensing of the radiation belts, and balloon-borne radio soundings of the ionosphere in conjunction with ground stations and satellites as pilot studies for future NASA missions.

(iii) Inter-hemispheric similarities and asymmetries in geospace phenomena: Science goals as above but under this theme special emphasis will be put on using both Arctic and Antarctic observations. In addition to several magnetometer and optical instrument networks bipolar data will be available also from HF-radars, riometers, digital ionosondes, dynasondes, dual-frequency GPS receivers and LEO satellite beacon receivers.

Each project in the combined proposal has a set of project-specific scientific objectives, but the interrelationships between the studied processes mean there is significant synergy between the projects. The result is that the overall proposal will be able to address topics with far-reaching scientific impact and of importance to society at large. For example, a practical benefit will be improved prediction of space weather phenomena which adversely affect spacecraft operations, humans in space, and satellite-based positioning systems; on the scientific side, global scale coordination of observing networks will allow us to study conjugate and multi-scale geospace phenomena in fundamentally new ways.

IHY will coordinate an overarching synoptic observation programme and will provide systems and assessment processes for coordinating and facilitating dedicated campaigns in order to reap the advantages of interdisciplinary observations. To facilitate data sharing, ICESTAR will lead an effort to establish a set of Virtual Observatories in accordance with concept of the Electronic Geophysical Year (eGY). Frequently updated web-pages will be the most effective way to disseminate the scientific results. Special sessions at international meetings and dedicated workshops will provide other channels to reach the broader community and to efficiently collect feedback. The public awareness of ICESTAR/IHY activities will be increased with popular articles and web-pages and with regularly coordinated media events.