Research

Over the last 10 years, the team has completed 7 nationally funded research projects

The complexity of research related to ionospheric variability on various time-scales is extremely high and requires deep expertise in several space and atmosphere related physics domains such as magnetosphere, ionosphere, neutral atmosphere, space weather, relevant instrumentation (ground and space based) and monitoring and modelling techniques. Taking into account the pronounced ionospheric variability at low European latitudes, it is of great importance to maintain a continuous, comprehensive and intensive research guidance plan that will aid towards improved understanding of ionospheric variability patterns over the eastern Mediterranean region and especially of any systematic variations present. Furthermore, the lack of any ionospheric stations in the immediate eastern Mediterranean area emphasizes the crucial role of the long-term operation of the CyIRG ionospheric monitoring infrastructure on improving the accuracy of ionospheric propagation services over the eastern Mediterranean region.

The research activity of the Cyprus Ionospheric Research group lies in the context of the study and mitigation of ionospheric effects on radio systems. It is in the position to pursue this aim by means of its infrastructure that facilitates continuous remote sensing of the state of the ionosphere, within various parts of the electromagnetic spectrum (VLF, HF, UHF). Detrimental ionospheric effects on radio systems usually have their origin on the disturbed state or natural variability of the Sun and therefore the group has a genuine research interest on Space Weather and its subsequent impact on the Upper Atmosphere. The ultimate goal of the group is to conduct studies on ionospheric variability and explore various techniques on monitoring and modeling of ionospheric characteristics in support of systems such as HF communication networks and GNSS.

Over the last 10 years, the team has completed 7 nationally funded research projects. The team has participated in European research consortia for securing funding in the area of Ionospheric monitoring and modeling project proposals. Moreover, the team has participated in COST actions COST296 “Mitigation of Ionospheric Effects on Radio Systems", ES0803 “Developing space weather services and products in Europe" and ES1206 “Advanced Global Navigation Satellite Systems tropospheric products for monitoring severe weather events and climate". Currently the group also participates in COST Action CA15211 “Atmospheric Electricity Network: coupling with the Earth System, climate and biological systems".

Staff exchange and mobility

Networking aims to reinforce and advance the research potential and scientific, engineering and technical skills of CyIRG at Frederick Research Center by transferring knowledge and experience in topics related to the field of Space Physics such as ionospheric variability instrumentation-monitoring-modeling and solar-wind magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling from research intensive and highly esteemed institutions. In the last 8 years the group has hosted 4 research professors, 4 Post-Doctoral researchers, 4 Ph.D. students and 2 MSc level researchers to conduct more than 80 person-months of joint ionospheric and space weather research investigation. Furthermore through the national funding it has received, it has collaborated with more than 15 established research centers within and outside Europe.

Networking

CyIRG considers networking as of paramount importance to achieve its mission (refer to SWOT Analysis below). In fact, we are carefully developing an international network of collaborations and partnerships, which will be leveraged and expanded. Partners in Europe (e.g., INGV, DLR, IAP, RMI, CERTH, OE, L-IAP, ICTP, RAL, IZMIRAN, NIEP), India (University of Calcutta), Indonesia (LAPAN, ITB ) and in the USA (e.g. UMass Lowell and Stanford University) encompass the research group into a network of excellence. Regionally CyIRG has established research collaborations with leading universities and research centres in Greece (NOA, AuTH) and Egypt (Helwan University) which are essential in facilitating its mission acting as a hub and a gateway of the region to Europe in its domains of expertise.

Alignment with the priorities of the Smart Specialisation Strategy of Cyprus

CyIRG is in alignment with the priorities of the Smart Specialisation Strategy of Cyprus focusing in particular to security, vulnerability and robustness of wireless and satellite communication and navigation systems addressed on an operational level. These include European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) and Network Real-Time Kinematic (N-RTK) services (such as CYPOS in Cyprus) but also demanding Location Based Services (LBS), standalone in-car navigation systems and Augmented Reality systems in which accurate positioning is an essential requirement. The prospect for supporting this aspect of related applications is stimulated by the increasing network accessibility (4G and future 5G) and rapid market penetration of smartphones and tablets which are capable of receiving updated information on the state of the local ionosphere in the form of ingested ionospheric characteristics exploiting available ionospheric monitoring infrastructure such as ionosondes and dual-frequency GNSS receivers through wireless internet technologies and not only from GNSS signals. CyIRG is already pursuing this avenue through its involvement in projects with a strong industrial component such as Warning and Mitigation Technologies for TID Effects (TechTIDE) (http://techtide.space.noa.gr/) and SERVice for ImproviNg Galileo operation over Cyprus (SERVING) (https://serving-project.eu/) and PECASUS (http://pecasus.eu) which has just been designated as a global space weather (SWx) information service center (SWxC) that will provide civil aviation with information on space weather that has the potential to affect communications, navigation and the health of passengers and crew.

CyIRG objectives

  • Contact high-quality Space Weather and Ionospheric research based on advanced remote-sensing techniques
  • Enhance the science and technology (S&T) capacity of CyIRG
  • Raise staff’s and Early Stage Researchers (ESR) research profile
  • Contribute to the overall Smart Specialisation Strategy of Cyprus
  • Promote CyIRG as an active member of the research networks

FRC academic/research staff

Strategically CyIRG aspires to develop into an influential regional research center that will attract researchers from neighbouring countries in the African continent and Middle-East. This could subsequently increase the visibility of CyIRG enabling it to undertake the role of a bridge of human research potential from these areas and Europe to support scientific integration over this region and overcoming the fragmentation of research efforts which particularly in the field of ionospheric research is a major drawback.