HamSCI UK Workshop 2017

HamSCI UK Workshop 2017

Monday, October 23, 2017 - 12:24

By Dr. Cathryn Mitchell, M0IBG

A meeting bringing together both radio amateurs and radio scientists was held in the UK on the 13 October 2017, before the Radio Society Great Britain annual convention. This 'HamSCI' event, the first such meeting outside of the USA, was organized by Professor Cathryn Mitchell, M0IBG, (University of Bath) in association with her Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) Knowledge Exchange fellowship. 

The invited talks were themed into three sessions. The workshop started with the topic ‘hams and scientists.’  The workshop opened with Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF, New Jersey Institute of Technology, sharing the first results from the HamSCI community in the USA working on the 2017 solar eclipse.  William Liles, NQ6Z, then spoke about the many solar eclipse experiments that have progressed ionospheric science, from the earliest in 1912 to the very latest this current year.  Ben Witvliet, PE5B, described his journey from radio amateur to radio scientist and pointed to the notable differences in the approaches. 

Session two was themed ‘ionospheric propagation.’ Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA, shared his top Outstanding Problems in Radio Propagation, demonstrating that the ionosphere is still not fully understood.  Steve Nichols G0KYA and RSGB Propagation Studies Committee Chairman, provided a comprehensive overview of the up to date propagation tools used by the radio amateur community. Marcus Walden, G0IJZ, Plextek, summarized the findings from an extended campaign of measurements at 5 MHz in the UK, which included the prevalence of the x mode for near-vertical-incidence-skywave.  Chris Deacon, G4IFX, showed very interesting results from his polarization observations at 50 MHz. 

The final session had three science presenters.  Prof Farideh Honary (University of Lancaster) described the public outreach projects on the aurora using magnetometers and an instrument called a riometer (measuring ionospheric absorption). Dr Ruth Bamford from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory spoke about the exciting new ionospheric radar (EISCAT 3D), soon to be constructed in Northern Scandinavia.  The session finished with a talk on Anthropogenic Space Weather by Phil Erickson, W1PJE, MIT Haystack Observatory. This showed the effects that humans have had on our space environment over the past 60 years.

Dr Gary Bust (JHUAPL) and Jim Bacon, G3YLA, organized a discussion on the potential areas for the hams and scientists to work together.  Sporadic E, travelling ionospheric disturbances and auroral boundaries were the topics identified and the potential benefits of distributed HF measurements and suitable low-cost equipment was discussed. 

The conference talks sparked off lively debates and questions that highlighted the value of both amateur and professional scientists. It was a very interesting day with many new connections being made and the clear potential for starting collaborative experiments.  Both communities appreciated the chance to learn from each other and to understand the importance of space weather for radio system operations in different environments. Many thanks to the UK NERC for the sponsorship of the event.


Talks Group 1: Hams and Scientists

Talks Group 2: Ionospheric Propagation

Talks Group 3: Space Science Instrumentation