New Project: Plasmasphere Ionosphere Thermosphere Integrated Research Environment and Access services: a Network of Research Facilities (April 2021)
A new European project, funded in the Horizon 2020 framework, has started with the RMI as one of twenty-three partners. The PITHIA-NRF project aims at building a European distributed network that integrates observing facilities, data processing tools and prediction models dedicated to ionosphere, thermosphere and plasmasphere research. For the first time, PITHIA-NRF integrates on a European scale, and opens up to all European researchers, key national and regional research infrastructures such as EISCAT, LOFAR, Ionosondes and Digisondes, GNSS receivers, Doppler sounding systems, riometers, and VLF receivers, ensuring optimal use and joint development. PITHIA-NRF is designed to provide organized access to experimental facilities, FAIR data, standardized data products, training and innovation services. Furthermore, the project facilitates drastically research advances in the field of upper atmosphere and near-Earth space, through the integration of data collections from satellite missions and results from key prediction models that can be accessed by scientific users for join exploitation with the data collected from the research infrastructures of the network.
Service update: Improved version of local geomagntic index nowcast is online (January 2021)
An improved version of the local geomagnetic index nowcasting service was put into operation. This service can be accessed through the link “Local K-index Nowcast” in the menu on the left. The main operational index is called KBEL. This index is calculated from magnetometer data from Dourbes, which is validated by comparison with data from Manhay. Additionally, single station indices are calculated for both magnetic observatories as well. These serve as a backup in case data of either station is not available.
Research spotlight: Altitude Matters for Solar Eclipse Observations (July 2020)
The paper “Height dependency of solar eclipse effects: the ionospheric perspective” by the ionosphere and space weather research team, which was recently published in the Journals of Geophysical Research, was selected by the AGU for a research spotlight. This spotlight was published in the Eos magazine as: Rehnberg, M. (2020), Altitude matters for solar eclipse observations, Eos, 101, doi:10.1029/2020EO146992, published on 23 July 2020. The JGR paper itself can be found in the list of publications on this website. The paper describes the importance of taking into account the full, three-dimensional geometry of solar eclipses when considering there ionospheric effects.Research infrastructure: Second neutron monitor installed (January 2019)
In January 2019, a new 9-counter neutron monitor (see a picture) was installed at the RMI Geophysical Centre in Dourbes. The installation and the initial tests went smoothly and since then the monitor is in full operational mode. This new instrument is complimentary to the already existing neutron monitor that has been measuring the cosmic rays since the early 1960's. Neutron monitors remain the state-of-art instruments on the ground for continuously observing and measuring various space weather parameters and complex phenomena related to cosmic ray intensity and space radiation conditions in general, solar energetic particles (SEP) events and ground level enhancements (GLEs), coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and Forbush decreases, solar activity levels, etc. The extended 18-counter neutron monitor will provide a much better time resolution and lower uncertainty thanks to the greater counting rate. The improved geometry and volume with the additional sections of the monitor will increase three to four times the counting rate. Thus, statistical fluctuations of measurements will decrease and allow detection of smaller variations in the cosmic ray intensity and therefore smaller-scale events. The neutron monitor is supported by a newly developed, fully automated operational and database management system. High quality measurements are obtained and immediately distributed to the International Neutron Monitor Database, NMDB, and directly to our partners and users via the dedicated website.New Project: Pan-European Consortium for Aviation Space weather User Services (November 2018)
The PECASUS initiative aims for a global space weather information service center as specified by the International Civil Aviation Organisation in its State Letter released in June 2017. The countries forming the PECASUS consortium are Finland (Lead), Belgium, UK, Poland, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Austria, and Cyprus. PECASUS will provide civil aviation with information on space weather that has the potential to affect communications, navigation and the health of passengers and crew.The consortium was audited in February 2018 by space weather and operational management experts, nominated by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). This audit addressed a broad spectrum of criteria under Institutional, Operational, Technical and Communication & Dissemination categories. PECASUS was declared fully compliant in all criteria with no areas for improvement identified. In its 215th Session the Council of International Civil Aviation Organization has designated three global space weather service centers to be operated by the PECASUS consortium, by United States and by the consortium of Australia, Canada, France and Japan.STCE Research Fellowship: Dr. Zbyšek Mošna (August 2018)
In August 2018 we welcomed Dr. Zbyšek Mošna. He is a researcher at the Department of Aeronomy, Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP), Czech Academy of Sciences. He holds M.Sc. (2006) and Ph.D. (2014) degrees in Physics from Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. His expertise is in the ionosphere/space weather research, including: ionospheric wave activity, thermosphere-ionosphere coupling, solar effects on the atmosphere and ionosphere, ionospheric storms and irregularities, ground-based ionospheric sounding measurements, etc. During the visit, the work has been focused on researching the temporal and spatial distribution of the sporadic E layer over Europe by means of vertical and oblique ionospheric sounding with the Dourbes and other European DPS-4D digital sounders.Honour: Outstanding Paper Award for Young Scientists, Dr. Tobias Verhulst (July 2018) (Acknowledgement)
The COSPAR Bureau has awarded an Oustanding Paper Award for Young Scientists, awarded every two years, to Dr. T. Verhulst for the paper “High-resolution ionospheric observations and modeling over Belgium during the solar eclipse of 20 March 2015 including first results of ionospheric tilt and plasma drift measurements,” published in Advances in Space Research vol. 11. Advances in Space Research (ASR) is the official scientific journal of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), a Scientific Committee of the International Council for Science (ICSU). Advances in Space Research covers all areas of space research including: space studies of the Earth's surface, meteorology, climate, planets and small bodies of the solar system, upper atmospheres, ionospheres and magnetospheres of the Earth and planets including reference atmospheres, space plasmas in the solar system, astrophysics from space, life sciences as related to space, fundamental physics in space, space weather, earth observations of space phenomena, etc. The award was conferred at the 2018 COSPAR General Assembly in Pasadena, California, and published in the COSPAR information bulletin, Space Research Today.
New Project: Warning and Mitigation Technologies for Traveling Ionospheric Disturbances (Tech-TIDE) (November 2017)
A new international project—warning and Mitigation Technologies for Traveling Ionospheric Disturbances (Tech-TIDE) – with RMI ionospheric research team participation and funded by the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (Horizon 2020), commenced in November 2017. Travelling Ionospheric Disturbances (TIDs) are plasma density fluctuations that propagate as waves through the ionosphere at a wide range of velocities and frequencies. TIDs constitute a threat for operational systems using predictable ionospheric characteristics as they can impose significant disturbances in the ambient electron density and Doppler frequency shifts on HF signals. TIDs can have multiple effects in the operation of aerospatial and ground-based infrastructures and especially in the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) and Network Real-Time Kinematic (N-RTK) services, in High Frequency (HF) communications, in radio reconnaissance operations and in Very High Frequency—Ultra High Frequency (VHF-UHF) radiowave propagation. Because of the high occurrence frequency of TIDs (almost daily), and the variety of their characteristics regarding their velocity, propagation direction and amplitude, their identification and tracking is very complicated and has not been achieved in operational service mode. The overarching objective of the TechTIDE project is to design and test new viable TID impact mitigation strategies for the technologies affected and in close collaboration with operators of these technologies, to demonstrate the added value of the proposed mitigation techniques. (view brochure)
STCE Research Fellowship: Dr. Christian Steigies (May 2016)
In May 2016 we welcomed Dr. Christian Steigies. He is a researcher at the Institut für Experimentelle und Angewandte Physik, University of Kiel, Germany, and manager of the International Neutron Monitor Database (NMDB). His research interests are primarily in cosmic rays observations and analysis. During the visit the work was focused on the real-time correction and data transfer of the cosmic ray measurements at Dourbes to the NMDB. This software will look for newly measured data and upload it to the neutron monitor data base.
STCE Conference: Cosmic Rays and Space Weather – research activities, service developments, and future strategy (May 2016) (Agenda)
In preparation for the STCE Annual Meeting, we are organizing a workshop on Cosmic Rays and Space Weather. The workshop will be held on 17 May 2016 at the RMI Geophysical Centre in Dourbes. The workshop aims at presenting the current research and development activities related to cosmic rays and space weather in the three institutes participating in the STCE project (RMI, ROB, BISA) and in other institutes/universities in Belgium and abroad. It aims also at exploring the feasibility of establishing an STCE Work Package on Cosmic Rays by first, reviewing the available infrastructure, expertise, ongoing research activities and services pertinent to the subject and, second, discussing how each group can contribute in terms of fundamental research, data management, computer programming support, etc.
COST Research Visit: Dr. Aleksandra Nina (February 2016)
In February 2016 we welcomed Dr. Aleksandra Nina from the University of Belgrade, Serbia, for a research visit in the frame of the COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action TD1403—Big Data Era in Sky and Earth Observation (BIG-SKY-EARTH). She holds a Ph.D. degree from the University of Belgrade, where she is currently employed as researcher. Her research interests are mostly in ionosphere monitoring using VLF radio waves, effects by astro- and geophysical phenomena on telecommunication signals in different frequency bands, ionospheric perturbations, theoretical and numerical methods for determination of ionospheric plasma parameters, data mining, etc.
New Project: Pilot Network for Identification of Travelling Ionospheric Disturbances in Europe (Net-TIDE) (November 2014)
A new international project—Pilot Network for Identification of Travelling Ionospheric Disturbances in Europe (Net-TIDE) - with RMI ionospheric research team participation and NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme funding, commenced in November 2014 (NATO HQ News, download news article). The objective is to develop a prototype system that provides in real-time an assimilative electron density model of the ionosphere with the required sensitivity to identify and track Travelling Ionospheric Disturbances (TIDs). The system will make use of the existing network of DPS-4D digital ionospheric sounders in Europe which will be trained to diagnose the TIDs applying the Frequency and Angular Sounding (FAS) technique. The FAS technique is based on measuring the variations of the angles-of-arrival and Doppler frequencies of ionospherically-reflected HF radio signals. It offers a possibility of using transmissions from broadcasting stations as probing signals, leading to reduced overall system costs by using a single receiving site to monitor several transmitters making measurements over a large area. The project aims at testing and implementing for the first time a novel experimental technique for identification and tracking TIDs over a specific region, such as Europe, using high precision ionospheric DPS-4D sounders operated by the participating nations. The performance of this technique is expected to be much more reliable than other (indirect) methods since it is based on direct observations, which is one of the novel aspects of the project. This will lead to the development of a robust, effective, and inexpensive system for remote detection and diagnostics of this type of ionospheric irregularities that can provide information and warnings directly exploitable by the users in support of their developments of mitigation techniques.
STCE Research Fellowship: Bruno Nava (September 2014)
In September 2014 we welcomed Mr. Bruno Nava. He is a researcher at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy. His interests include the development of three-dimensional and time-dependent ionospheric electron density models, data assimilation into ionospheric models, and GNSS radio occultation data inversion. Bruno has been at the heart of the development of the ionospheric electron density model NeQuick, adopted for estimating the Total Electron Content (TEC) in the ITU-R Recommendation. He was also involved in several projects supported by the European Commission (EC), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Italian Space Agency (ISA). Bruno is a member of the ESA Advisory Group on Ionosphere where he is involved in several support activities related to the GALILEO project.
STCE Conference: Long-Term Solar Changes (May 2014) (Agenda)
In preparation for the STCE Annual Meeting, we are organizing a workshop on long-term trends in solar activity, ionosphere and atmosphere. The workshop will be held on 19 May 2014 at the Space Pole in Brussels. The recent progress in total solar irradiance measurements from space and in long-term characterisation of the solar activity through sunspot records, together with the unexpected behaviour from the Sun itself during the current solar cycle 24, suggests that there is a need for a paradigm shift in solar climate research. The amplitude of the 11-year solar cycle seems to vary not according to a long-term increase from the Maunder Grand Minimum to a Modern Grand Maximum, but rather according to a long-term oscillation with a period of around 100 years. The current solar cycle apparently nears a minimum of the long-term 100-year cycle thus undermining the 'classical' Modern Grand Maximum point of view. This workshop aims at discussing all these issues and possibly reinvigorating the investigations of the long-term Sun-Earth relationship by grasping the research opportunities offered by the approaching minimum of the 100-year cycle.
STCE Research Fellowship: Prof. Bodo Reinisch (November 2013)
In November 2013 we welcomed Prof. Bodo Reinisch. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, after teaching there for 45 years. He is the owner and CEO of the Lowell Digisonde International -- the company that develops and produces the advanced digital ionospheric sounder, the Digisonde®, used worldwide ever since 1970. Prof. Reinisch holds B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees from the University of Freiburg, and Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts. During his distinguished career, Prof. Reinisch authored about 300 publications, was Principal Investigator of the Radio Plasma Imager (RPI) for NASA's IMAGE satellite mission (2000-2006), was associate editor of several journals (Advances in Space Research, Radio Science, IEEE Antennas and Propagation). He served as Vice-Chair and Chair of the URSI commission G and the COSPAR/URSI “IRI Taskforce”. He was honoured with many awards, including: JASTP Most Cited Article 2005-2010, URSI Appleton Prize (2011) for "outstanding contributions to studies in ionospheric physics", and Germany’s Cross of Merit (1987) and Cross of Merit First Class (2012). He is also a co-founder and president of the German International School in Boston.
Honour: Civic Decoration, Mr. Guy Crabbe (June 2013) (Acknowledgement)
Mr. Guy Crabbe has been honored with a Civic Cross First Class (Croix Civique de Première Classe) for his excellent work and loyal service, of more than 35 years, to the Royal Meteorological Institute and the local community.
Celebrations: 100-year Anniversary of RMI (May-September 2013)
In 2013, the Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI) celebrates its 100-year anniversary. For a century, RMI has been providing the national and international community with high-quality services in the form of weather nowcasts and forecasts, various technical information and expertise in the areas of meteorology, hydrology, atmospheric and geophysical sciences. As part of the centenary celebrations, a series of open-door events have been organised in the institute's venues in Brussels (25-26 May 2013) and Dourbes (29-30 June 2013). In addition, RMI is organizing an international scientific conference (26-27 September 2013, at the Cinquantenaire Museum in Brussels) covering topics at the very heart of present day research in atmospheric and climate sciences. Leading scientists will present recent advances on these topics: numerical weather prediction, climatological measurements and modeling, nonlinear dynamics, remote sensing, geomagnetic and ionospheric research, etc.
STCE Conference: Ionosphere – Monitoring, Research, and Services (May 2013) (Agenda)
In preparation for the STCE Annual Meeting, we are organizing a workshop on ionospheric monitoring, research, and services. The workshop will be held on 14 May 2013 at the RMI Geophysical Centre in Dourbes. The workshop aims at reviewing the ongoing research and development activities related to the ionosphere and space weather in the three institutes participating in the STCE project - the Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI), the Royal Observatory of Belgium (ROB), and the Belgian Institute of Space Aeronomy (BISA).
Honour: Top Reviewer Award, Dr. Stanimir Stankov (January 2013)
Advances in Space Research (ASR) is the official scientific journal of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), a Scientific Committee of the International Council for Science (ICSU). Advances in Space Research covers all areas of space research including: space studies of the Earth's surface, meteorology, climate, planets and small bodies of the solar system, upper atmospheres, ionospheres and magnetospheres of the Earth and planets including reference atmospheres, space plasmas in the solar system, astrophysics from space, life sciences as related to space, fundamental physics in space, space weather, earth observations of space phenomena, etc. To further highlight the crucial importance of reviewers to the quality of ASR, the Editors have selected their 10 top reviewers for the year 2012, looking at criteria such as the number and the quality of the referee reports (Space Research Today, Vol.186, pp.59-64).
Honour: Outstanding Achievement Certificate, Mr. Guy Crabbe (May 2012) (Acknowledgement)
Mr. Guy Crabbe has been honored with an Outstanding Achievement Certificate by Lowell Digisonde Inc. for his outstanding service in maintaining the ionospheric sounders at the RMI Geophysical Centre in Dourbes during the last 30 years, thus contributing to the efforts and results obtained by many scientists worldwide.
STCE Research Fellowship: Dr. Ljiljana Cander (September 2011)
In September 2011 we welcomed Dr. Ljiljana Cander from the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory for a research visit in the frame of the STCE activities. She is an eminent member of the European ionospheric community and has a diverse experience stretching to almost every aspect of the space weather science and applications: ionospheric propagation, monitoring, modelling and forecasting, space weather research and services, etc.
STCE Research Fellowship: Prof. Ivan Kutiev (July 2011)
In July 2011 we welcomed Prof. Ivan Kutiev from the Geophysical Institute, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences for a research visit in the frame of the STCE activities. He is a prominent senior researcher in ionosphere and space sciences, with a broad international experience. He has held long-term visiting research positions in Belgium (Royal Meteorological Institute), USA (Space Environment Center NOAA - Boulder, Univ. Texas Dallas), Japan (Institute of Space and Astronautical Science - Sagamihara, Hokkaido University, Solar Terrestrial Environment Laboratory - Nagoya University). He is also an official COSPAR Commission C2 and IRI task group member, URSI Commission H member, COST national representative, and WP leader/participant in various European projects and actions.
Honour: Best Paper Award, Dr. Stanimir Stankov (May 2011) (Certificate)
A research team, led by Dr. Stanimir Stankov, developed a novel operational system based on measurements from collocated digital ionosonde and GPS receiver measurements. The system, dubbed LIEDR (Local Ionospheric Electron Density profile Reconstruction), acquires and promptly processes the incoming measurements, computes the full-height ionospheric electron density profile, and displays the resulting profilograms. LIEDR, in operation at the RMI Geophysical Centre in Dourbes is designed to operate in continuous real-time mode for service applications and to provide historical data for research applications and further developments of the system. A publication, reporting on this development, won the best paper award at the International Ionospheric Effects Symposium (IES), held in May 2011 in Washington, USA. IES-2011 followed in the tradition of the previous Ionospheric Effects Symposia that have been held once every three years in the Washington DC area since 1975. IES is the most specialised and highly-regarded forum for the ionospheric science, an important event where advanced research and applications are presented and discussed covering an array of topics of importance to both military and commercial systems and their operation.
New Digital Ionosonde installed at the RMI Geophysical Centre in Dourbes, Lowell Digisonde-4D (April 2011)
In April 2011, a new digital ionosonde, Lowell Digisonde-4D, was installed at the RMI Geophysical Centre in Dourbes. The digisonde was also equipped with new transmit and receive antennas which substantially improved the quality of measurements. The installation and the initial calibration went smoothly and since then the digisonde is being operated in a high time resolution mode, one sounding per 5 minutes. Digisonde-4D is state-of-the-art equipment using radar principles of remote sensing to evaluate with high-accuracy and precision the conditions of the ionospheric plasma above the station. It boasts multiple functionalities supported by a fully automated operational and database management system. Thus, high quality measurements are obtained and immediately distributed to the international digital ionosonde network database (DIDBase) and to the users via the dedicated internet website (http://digisonde.oma.be/).