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New system at Emalus to detect changes in natural disasters

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The Very Low Frequency (VLF) signal receiver at USP’s Emalus Campus can detect Upper Atmospheric (Ionospheric) changes during earthquakes and tropical Cyclones.

The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Emalus Campus in Vanuatu has been equipped with a Very Low Frequency (VLF) signal receiver to detect Upper Atmospheric (Ionospheric) changes during earthquakes and tropical cyclones.

This has been made possible through strategic research funding from USP under a research project titled ‘Investigations of Sea State and Upper Atmosphere during Earthquakes (EQs) and Tropical Cyclones (TCs) in the South Pacific Region: Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa’.

The VLF system consists of a short (2.5 meter) whip antenna (Plastic tube and wire taped along the tube), pre-amplifier fixed at the bottom of the whip antenna, and VLF service unit (SU) coupled with pre-amplifier.

It can record up to seven VLF transmitter signals such as from Australia (19.8 kHz), Japan (22.2 kHz), Hawai (21.4 kHz), India (18.2 kHz) and USA (24.8 kHz), and so forth covering a wide area around the receiving stations for scientific research.

Earlier, similar equipment have been installed at Laucala and Emalus Campuses in Fiji and Samoa.

The propagational feature of VLF waves passing over natural hazard-disturbed areas are changed and by measuring those changes, the perturbations to the ionosphere are measured.

While installing the system and conducting training for Emalus staff, Professor Sushil Kumar of the School of Engineering and Physics at the Laucala Campus, said the continuous recording of the data would reveal significant insight into the behaviour of the changes before and after any extreme event happening along the VLF propagation paths and the science behind these could be better understood with critical analysis of the data.

Professor Kumar felt that understanding the behaviour of the sea state would greatly reduce the damage with better preparations in the near future.

He further stated, “That the strategic allocation of the sites (Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu) would reveal the real behaviour of the sea states and ionosphere as these islands are often circumspect to natural disasters due to climate change”.

“The layer of the atmosphere called ionosphere could be detrimental to satellite communications and satellite navigation particularly under severe terrestrial and space weather hazards,” he explained.

Dr Krishna Kumar Kotra thanked Professor Kumar for choosing Emalus campus for his research study. He assured that the equipment would be taken care of and data would be stored and sent as per the protocols.

“The campus has been actively organising such training sessions to inculcate scientific thinking among students and certainly this would encourage them to give preference to science courses.

“Opportunities like these would enhance the practical skills among students besides taking the activities for discussions among communities back in their islands,” he noted.

Mr Atishnal Chand, Teaching Assistant in Physics will monitor the equipment and record the data, while Mr Satend Prasad, Lab Technician at Emalus Campus would be part of the project for technical support.

Professor Kumar thanked the Campus Director Mr Ruben Markward and Dr Kotra for their timely support in installing the system.

He also acknowledged members of this project including Dr Awnesh Singh, Associate Professor MGM Khan, Dr Abhikesh Kumar, Mr Ashneel Chandra, Mr Atishnal Chand and Dr Torsten Neubert, Senior Scientist, National Space Institute, Technical University of Denmark (DTU Space), Copenhagen, Denmark (External Collaborator), for working together under this project.

This news item was published on 6 Feb 2018 12:03:21 pm. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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