From: Irene Klotz, Discovery News
Published June 4, 2009 03:27 PM

Huge Waves Detected in Atmosphere

Researchers have detected giant, fast-moving waves of air, caused by thunderstorms and other disturbances, above Poker Flat, Alaska, where a new radar is churning out the first three-dimensional images of upper atmospheric phenomena in the polar region.

"People have been envisioning doing this project for 40 years," said Eric Donovan, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. "There's just a lot going on in this region that we don't understand."

The radar combines 4,096 small antennas, each with its own transmitter, on a single instrument, rather than one giant dish equipped with one powerful transmitter. Rather than physically rotating the radar to point in different directions, the steering is done electronically by slightly phasing each of the antenna elements differently.


The radar, which can be run remotely via the Internet, can be very quickly adjusted to pinpoint and track velocity, temperature and other changes in the upper atmosphere.

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