Antarctic ionospheric and space weather research at Troll station

About the project

In polar regions, the ionosphere, which is the partially ionized part of the atmosphere, is directly coupled to the Earth's magnetosphere. This is a very dynamic coupling, which strongly depends on the activity of the Sun, solar wind, and interplanetary magnetic field. This interaction is a key element in the understanding of space weather, which has an increasingly important impact on human activities on Earth and in space, including, but not limited to, communication and satellitebased navigation. In particular, close to the magnetic poles, the particles that are accelerated in the magnetosphere to larger energies can penetrate down to the ionosphere and collide with the atmosphere's molecular and atomic species, giving rise to the spectacular aurorae borealis (Northern Lights) in the Northern hemisphere and aurorae australis (Southern Lights) in the Southern hemisphere. The resulting space weather effects include scintillations of transionospheric radio signals, decreasing the accuracy of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). Studying the ionosphere in the polar regions is of paramount importance to understand the global ionosphere-magnetosphere system, and determine the space weather effects in those regions. With the lack of observations over the Southern hemisphere, there is a need of establishing a wider network of instruments in Antarctica. In this project we will establish the ionospheric research station at Troll to provide optical and scintillation/TEC measurements of the ionosphere in Queen Maud Land, Antarctica. We will study in particular the global space weather effects caused by aurora during increased geomagnetic activity and assess the reliability and accuracy of GNSS. It is the first step in establishing a comprehensive long-term ionospheric research at in establishing a comprehensive long-term ionospheric research at the Troll Norwegian station in Antarctica by using the ground-based infrastructure.


The first goal is to establish an automatic ionospheric and space research station at Troll in Antarctica, by installing the GNSS Ionospheric Scintillation and TEC monitor receiver for monitoring the state of the ionosphere and scintillation level which relates to the ionospheric irregularities, as well as an All-Sky Imager for studies of the aurora australis over Queen Maud Land in Antarctica.

The second goal is to understand the specifics of the distribution of scintillations in the Southern hemisphere and determine their sources. Through the second task we will contribute to the scientific discussion on space weather effects over Antarctica. Achieving the first goal will trigger further ionospheric research at Troll, and also establish the Norwegian station as a major actor in the network of ionospheric stations in Antarctica, and in particular in Queen Maud Land.


The Research Council of Norway, POLARPROG


Russian Academy of Sciences
Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy

Published Aug. 14, 2018 10:25 AM - Last modified Aug. 14, 2018 10:26 AM