13 January 2017 16:54

The Royal Astronomical Society has awarded the 2017 Group Achievement Award for Geophysics to an international consortium including Lancaster University.

The Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) involves nine countries, 16 institutes and 33 radars worldwide.

It has worked as a large international consortium for over 20 years, and has proved to be immensely successful in studying dynamical geophysical processes in the Earth’s magnetosphere, ionosphere, and neutral atmosphere.

Lancaster University has operated the SuperDARN Iceland West radar since 2013 and is also collaborating with the University of Leicester to deploy a new SuperDARN radar in southern France.

Led by Professor Jim Wild, other SuperDARN team members at Lancaster include Dr Adrian Grocott, Professor Mike Kosch, Daniel Billet, Peter Chapman and Hannah Laurens.

The Iceland West radar routinely measures the structure and dynamics of the upper atmosphere within an area of several million square kilometres between Iceland and North America.

Professor Wild said: “The aim is to improve our understanding of the effect of the Sun and the aurora (the northern and southern lights) on the upper atmosphere, and also its interactions with the lower atmosphere and hence our climate.”

Over the past 20 years, SuperDARN has produced numerous scientific firsts, and around 700 refereed papers.

SuperDARN has been a scientific backbone for the UK and international Magnetosphere, Ionosphere and Solar-Terrestrial physics community, and the dedication of the SuperDARN teams ensures that it continues to provide scientific breakthroughs.

Professor John Zarnecki, President of the Royal Astronomical Society, congratulated the winners:

“The achievements of all of our winners are impressive and we are so pleased to be able to acknowledge them.”

The winners will be invited to collect their awards at the Society's National Astronomy Meeting in Hull in July.