Communications, Space Physics and Natural Hazards Group

Members of the Research Group:


The communications and Space Physics group under School of Engineering and Physics, The University of the South Pacific is engaged in the study the ionized regions of the Earth’s electrical environment using the electromagnetic signals (radio waves) in different frequency rages. Radio waves from Extremely/Very Low Frequency (ELF-VLF; up to 30 kHz) to Super High Frequency (SHF; 3-30 Ghz) are used in communication systems. The development of a global and a regional specification and forecast system for communications is needed in view of our increased reliance on ground and space communication systems. Radio wave propagation is affected by the atmosphere in between the ground receiver and satellites. parameters. The main research focus now covers the whole Earth’s atmosphere from communications point of view based mainly using experimental data both ground and satellites & spacecraft based observations. The group has an active research programme in atmospheric, ionospheric and magnetospheric physics and radio wave applications to the natural hazards. We are interested in studying the earthquake and tsunami (if any) under Geophysical (earthquake, tsunami, volcanic eruption, landslide, and snow avalanche), tropical cyclone, lightning and thunderstorm, long-term climatic change, and short-term climatic change) and Geomagnetic storms and solar flares under Space (Solar flares, Geomagnetic storms, Solar Proton Events, Energetic Electron Precipitation, Satellite Drag) Hazards.

The group is engaged in international collaborations; 1. Otago University, New Zealand, and University of Washington, USA, under the World Wide Location Network (WWLLN), 2. Stanford University Network on Atmospheric Weather Electromagnetic System for Observation Modeling and Education (AWESOME) under the International Heliophysical Year 2007 (IHY 2007) project supported by NASA under United Nations Basic Space Science Initiative (UNBSSI) program, 3. Indian Institute of Geomagnetism, Mumbai, India, Banaras Hindu University, India, and other organizations.

Research Interests:

The research is now conducted in the following streams:

  • ELF-VLF radio propagation to probe the Earth-ionosphere waveguide, the lower ionosphere and the plasmasphere,
  • Lightning location by time-of-arrival of VLF sferics at multiple receivers
  • Lightning, solar flare, earthquake, terrestrial gamma rays (TGF) modifications to the lower ionosphere
  • Space weather effects on trans-ionospheric radio wave propagation
  • Whistler analysis to probe inner plasma sphere: Ionosphere and magnetosphere
  • Study the natural hazards such Earthquakes and Tropical cyclones using ELF-VLF radio wave technique
  • GPS based study of the ionosphere in the South Pacific Region.
  • Rain attenuation of SHF satellite signals Atmospheric parameters affecting the radio waves used in communications.
  • Climate change and its impact on lower and upper atmosphere

Equipment Available for Research:

  • ELF-VLF lightning impulse recording system in collaboration with the World Wide Lightning Location (WWLL) Network, University.
  • Software based VLF Phase and Amplitude Logger (SoftPAL) capable of  to recording the amplitude and phase six MSK (Minimum Shift Key) modulated VLF transmitter signals.
  • Atmospheric Weather Electromagnetic System for Observation Modeling and Education (AWESOME) system.
  • Total Electron Content and scintillation monitoring GPS system (GSV4004B)
  • Very High Speed sferics recording system
  • Ku-band (1.2 m offset dish) earth-satellite receiver system
  • ICOM, Model IC-R7100 Wideband Receiver
  • ICOM, Model IC-R8500 Wideband Receiver
  • TEC and scintillation monitoring unit GSV4004B LP Technologies Spectrum Analyzer Adapter LPT-1250
  • Advantest R3131A Spectrum Analyzer 9 kHz – 3 GHz.
  • DSS 6521 Digital Storage Oscilloscope

Current studies Projects:

  • Ionospheric D-region Investigation Using ELF-VLF Radio Wave Techniques.
  • Ionospheric electron content and L band scintillation study in the South Pacific Region using GPS.
  • Spectral Features of Sferics and their Applications to the lower ionosphere and cyclone Tracking in the South Pacific Region
  • Upper Atmospheric Investigation Using Atmospheric Weather Electromagnetic System for Observation, Modelling, and Education (AWESOME), ELF-VLF Radio Wave Recorder.
  • Measurement of satellite carrier signal strength at 11.65GHz from INTELSAT 701.Investigating the effect of atmospheric parameters (Rain-rate and earth electric field) on radio wave propagation.

Students  Masters projects:

1. Completed

1. Effects of atmospheric parameters on Ku-band satellite link: Completed 2005

2. Study of the Earth’s upper atmosphere using VLF and SHF radio wave techniques. Completed: 2006.

3. Study ionosphere and magnetosphere using lightning generated tweeks and whistlers. Completed: 2008.

4. Amplitude and Phase Study of Subionospheric VLF Radio Signals Received at Suva. Completed: 2008.

5. Investigation of the effects of cloud cover on ku-band satellite link and Earth’s PG: Completed 2009

6. Mobile Phone based Intelligent Home. Completed: 2010.

7. Ionospheric Electron content and L band scintillation study in the South Pacific Region. Completed  2013.

8. PhD project- “ D-region investigations using ELF-VLF radio wave techniques”. Completed 2016


2. Ongoing

1. Morphology of cyclonic storms and their tracking in the South Pacific region using VLF radio wave technique

2. Space Weather Effects on the Upper Ionosphere using GPS Technique

3. Modal Interference and perturbation of sub-ionospheric VLF signals received at Suva

4. PhD Project: The investigation of travelling ionospheric disturbances under severe space and tropospheric weather conditions: Sem II 2016

5. Masters project-Climatology of Recurving Tropical Cyclones in the Southwest Pacific Region.  Sem I 2013 to date


• Space Physics Group, Physics Department, Otago University. Started in 2006 with a project on SoftPAL based VLF studies.

• STAR laboratory, Stanford University, USA. Started in 2009 with VLF studies using AWESOME system.

• World-wide Lightning Location network, University of Washington, USA. Started in 2003 with a host from the South Pacific Region.

• Indian institute of Geomagnetism, India. Stared in 2010 after identifying the  areas of common research interest.

• Space Physics laboratory, Bhopal University, Bhopal, India. Did PhD from this univ. and it is an ongoing collaboration

• The Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM): ASIM is an experiment proposed for the International Space Station (ISS) external facilities on the Columbus module. ASIM is aimed at the study of high-altitude optical emissions from the stratosphere and mesosphere, the Transient Luminous Events (TLEs: Red Sprites, Blue Jets, Elves) and the Terrestrial Gamma Flashes (TGFs): It is coordinated by Prof. T. Neubert, Danish National Space Center (DNSC), Lyngby; Denmark. Newly started (2013).

• “Variability of the Sun and Its Terrestrial Impact (VarSITI) 2014-2018: The VarSITI program strives for international collaboration in data analysis, modeling, and theory to understand how the solar variability affects Earth.

Recent List of Research Publications

Please see the list of publications of staff working in this group; please visit;

Some selected and recent papers

    • Ramendra Prasad, Sushil Kumar, P. T. Jayachandran (2016), Differential code bias estimation and GPS TEC study at a low latitude station in the South Pacific Region, J. Atmospheric Solar-Terrestrial Physics, Volumer 149, November 2016, Pages 120-130, 2016.
    • Sushil Kumar, Abhikesh Kumar, Ajeet K Maurya, Rajesh Singh, Changes in the D region associated with three recent solar eclipses in the South Pacific region, Journal of Geophysical Research-Space Physics,121, doi:10.1002/2016JA022695,2016.
    • Sneha A. Gokani, Rajesh Singh, Morris B. Cohen, Sushil Kumar K. Venkatesham, Ajeet K. Maurya, R. Selvakumaran, J. Litchtenberger, Very low latitude (L=1 =1.08) whistlers and correlation with lightning activity, Journal of Geophysical Research-Space Physics, 120, doi:10.1002/2015JA021058, 2015.
    • R. Selvakumaran, Ajeet K. Maurya, Sneha A. Gokani, B. Veenadhari, Sushil Kumar, K. Venkatesham, D.V.Phanikumar, Abhay K. Singh, Devendraa Siingh, Rajesh Singh (2015), Solar flare effect on ionosphere and geomagnetic field, J. Atmospheric Solar-Terrestrial Physics, 123, 102-112, 2015.
    • Sushil Kumar, Abhikesh Kumar, Frederik Menk, Ajeet K Mauyra, Rajesh Singh,  B. Veenadhari, Response of the low latitude D-region ionosphere to extreme space weather event of 14-16 December 2006, Journal of Geophysical Research-Space Physics, 120, 788-799, doi:10.1002/2014JA020751, 2015.
    • Ajeet K. Maurya, D.V. Phani Kumar, Rajesh Singh, Sushil Kumar, B. Veenadhari, Y.-S. Kwak, Abhikesh Kumar and Abhay K. Singh, Wave-like signatures in the low-mid latitude D-region ionosphere associated with 22 July 2009 Total Solar Eclipse inferred from VLF observations, Journal of Geophysical. Research-Space Physics, Volume 119, Issue 10, pages 8512-8523, October 2014, DOI:10.1002/2013JA019521
    • Abhikesh Kumar and Sushil Kumar, Space Weather effects on the low lattitude D-region ionosphere during solar Minimum. Earth Planets and Space, 66:76, 2014
    • M. M. Salut, M. B. Cohen, M. A. M. Ali, K. L. Graf, B. R. T.Cotts, M. Abdullah, and Sushil Kumar, On the Relationship Between Lightning Peak Current and Early VLF Ionospheric Disturbances, Journal of Geophysical Research-Space Physics. VOL. 118,1-11, doi:10.1002/2013JA019087, 2013.
    • Prateek R. Srivastava, Sneha A. Gokani, Ajeet K. Maurya, Rajesh Singh, Sushil Kumar, B. Veenadhari, R. Selvakumaran, Abhay K. Singh, Janos Lichtenberger, Correlation of Low Latitude Whistlers with conjugate source lightning discharges and their propagation characteristics, Advances in Space Research, 52, 1966-1973, 2013.
    • A. K. Maurya, R. Singh, B. Veenadhari, Sushil Kumar, and A. K. Singh, Sub-ionospheric VLF perturbations associated with the 12 May 2008 M7.9 Wenchuan earthquake, Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 13, 2331-2336, 2013.
    • Abhikesh Kumar, Sushil Kumar, Masashi Hayakawa, and Fredrik Menk, Subionospheric VLF perturbations observed at low latitude associated with earthquake from Indonesia region, J. Atmospheric-Solar Terrestrial Physics, 102, 71-80, 2013.
    • B. A. Carter, K. Zhang, R. Norman, V. V. Kumar and Sushil Kumar, On the occurrence of the equatorial F-region irregularities during solar minimum using radio occultation measurements, Journal of Geophysical Research (Space Physics), VOL.118, 1-13, doi:10.1002/jgra.50089, 2013.
    • Vickal V. Kumar, Alain Protat, Peter T. May, Christian Jakob, Guillaume Penide, Sushil Kumar, Laura Davis, On the effects of large-scale environment on convective cloud characteristics over Darwin, Australia, Monthly Weather Review (American Meteorological Society), Vol 141, 1358-1574, 2013.
    • Sushil Kumar and Abhikesh Kumar, Early VLF perturbations observed at low latitude: Occurrence and scattering characteristics, Earth Planets Space, 65, 25-37, 2013.
    • B. Veenadhari, R. Selvakumaran, Rajesh Singh, Ajeet K. Maurya, N. Gopalswamy, Sushil Kumar, T. Kikuchi, CME-driven shocks and the associated sudden commencements/sudden impulses, Journal of Geophysical Research (Space Physics), 117, A04210, doi:10.1029/2011JA017216, 2012.
    • Ajeet K. Maurya, Rajesh Singh, B. Veenadhari, Sushil Kumar, M. B. Cohen, R. Selvakumaran, P. Pant, A.K. Singh, U.S. Inan, Morphological features of Tweeks and nighttime D-region ionosphere at tweek reflection height from the observations in the low latitude Indian Sector, Journal of Geophysical Research (Space Physics), 117, A05301, doi:10.1029/2011JA016976, 2012.
    • M. M. Salut, M. Abdullah,K. L. Graf, M. B. Cohen, B. R. T. Cotts and Sushil Kumar, Long ionospheric recovery perturbations associated with lightning discharges, Journal of Geophysical Research (Space Physics), 117, A08311, doi:10.1029/2012JA017567, 2012.
    • Ajeet. K. Maurya, B.Veenadhari, Rajesh Singh, Sushil Kumar,  M. B. Cohen, P. Pant, A.K. Singh, R Selvakumaran, Umran S Inan, Nighttime D-region electron density measurements from tweek radio atmospherics recorded at low latitudes, Journal of Geophysical Research (Space Physics), VOL.117, A11308, doi:10.1029/2012JA017876, 2012.
    • Sheikh Izzal Azid and Sushil Kumar, Analysis and performance of a low cost SMS based Home security system, International Journal of Smart Home, Vol. 5, No.3, 15-24, 2011.
    • Rajesh Singh, B. Veenadhari, Ajeet K. Maurya, Morris B Cohen, Sushil Kumar, R Selvakumaran, P. Pant, Abhay K Singh, Umran S Inan, D-region ionosphere response to the Total Solar Eclipse of 22 July 2009 deduced from VLF tweek observations in the Indian sector, Journal of Geophysical Research (Space Physics), 116, A10301, doi:10.1029/2011JA016641, 2011.
    • Sushil Kumar, Waveguide parameters of 19.8 kHz signal propagating over a long path, Research Letters in Physics, USA, Vol. 09, 1-4, doi:10.1155/2009/216373, 2009.
    • Kumar V.V., Ramachandran V., Buadromo V., and Prakash J.N. “Surface fair-weather potential gradient measurements from a small tropical island station Suva, Fiji”, Earth Planet Science, Vol. 7, No.3, pg 747-753, 2009.
    • Sushil Kumar, Anil Deo, V. Ramachandran, Nighttime D-region equivalent electron density determined from tweek sferics observed in the South Pacific Region, Earth Planet Space, 61, 905-9, 2009
    • Sushil Kumar, Abhikesh Kumar, Craig J. Rodger, Subionospheric early VLF perturbations observed at Suva: VLF detection of red sprites in the day, Journal of Geophysical Research, 113, A03311, doi:10.1029/2007JA012734, 2008.
    • Sushil Kumar, A. Kishore, V. Ramachandran, Higher harmonic tweek sferics observed at low latitude: Estimation of VLF reflection heights and tweeks propagation distance, Annales Geophysicae, 26, 1451–1459, 2008.
    • Richard L Dowden, Robert H Holzworth, Craig J Rodger, János Lichtenberger, Neil R Thomson, Abram R Jacobson, Erin Lay, James B Brundell, Thomas J Lyons, Steven O’Keefe, Zen Kawasaki, Colin Price, Victor Prior, Pascal Ortéga, James Weinman, Yuri Mikhailov, Ronald Woodman, Xiushu Qie, Gary Burns, Andrew Collier, Osmar Pinto Junior, Ricardo Diaz, Claudia Adamo, Earle R Williams, Sushil Kumar, G. B. Raga, Jose M Rosado, Eldo E. Avila, Mark A Clilverd, Thomas Ulich, Peter Gorham, Thomas J G Shanahan, Thomas Osipowicz, Gregory Cook, Yang Zhao, World-Wide Lightning Location Using VLF Propagation in the Earth-Ionosphere Waveguide, IEEE Antennas and Wave Propagation Mag, 50(5), 40-60, 2008.
    • Sushil Kumar, A. Kishore, and V. Ramachandran, Ionospheric Scintillation on 3.925 GHz signal from Intelsat 701 in the South Pacific Region, Physica Scripta, 75, 258-262, 2007.
    • Sushil Kumar, A. Deo, A. Kishore, and V. Ramachandran, Whistlers observed at the low latitude ground based VLF facility in the South Pacific region, J. Atmos. Sol.- Terr. Phys, 69, 1366-1376,  2007.
    • V. Ramachandran, Justine Prakash, Anil Deo and S. Kumar, Lightning location from single station measurements and Validation with WWLLN data, Annales Geophysicae, 25, 1509-1517, 2007.
    • S. Kumar, S. Sharma, H. Chandra,Interplanetary origin of magnetic storms and their F2-region response at the equatorial anomaly, Advances in Space Research, 37, 1777-1783, 2006.
    • Kumar V.V., Deo R.C. and Ramachandran V., “Total Rain Accumulation and Rain-Rate analysis for Small Tropical Pacific Islands: A Case Study of Suva, Fiji”, Atmospheric Science Letters, Vol. 7, No. 3, pg 53-58, DOI: 10.1002/asl.131, 2006.
    • Ramachandran V. and Kumar V.V., “Modified Rain Attenuation Model for Tropical Regions for Ku-Band Signals”, International Journal on Satellite Communication and Networking, Published online in Wiley InterScience, Vol. 25, pg 53 – 67, DOI: 10.1002/sat.846, 2006.
    • Sushil Kumar, F2-region response of geomagnetic storms at equatorial anomaly crest, Physica Scripta, Vol. 72(1) 100-104, 2005.
    • V. Ramachandran, S. Kumar, and A. Kishore Remote sensing of cloud-to-ground lightning location using the TOGA of sferics, Atmos. Res. Lett, 6, 128-132, 2005.
    •  Ramachandran V. and Kumar V.V., “Invariance of Accumulation Time Factor of Ku-band signals in the Tropics” Journal of ElectroMagnetic Waves and Applications, Vol. 19, No. 11, pg 1501-1509, 2005.
    • Sushil Kumar, H. Chandra and S. Sharma, Geomagnetic storms and ionospheric effects observed at equatorial anomaly crest in Indian Region, J. Atmos. Sol.- Terr. Phys, 67, 581-594, 2005.
  • Kumar V.V., and Ramachandran V. (2004), “Rain-attenuation measurement at 11.6 GHz in Suva, Fiji”, Electronic letters, Institution of Electrical Engineers, United Kingdom, Vol. 40, No. 22, pg 1429 – 1431, 2004.


Recent Conference Presentations:

• Atishnal Elvin Chand and Sushil Kumar, VLF modal interference distance for a west-east propagation path to Fiji, Presented in URSI Asia Pacific Radio Science Conference, 21-25 August 2016, Seoul Korea

• Sushil Kumar, Samir Nait Amor, Olivier Chanrion, Torsten Neubert, Temporal Evolution of Lightning and VLF perturbations associated with four recent Tropical Cyclones in the South Pacific Region, Presented in AOGS 13th Annual Meeting/conference, 31 July to 5 Aug, 2016, Beijing, China.

• Ramendra Prasad and Sushil Kumar, GPS L-band Scintillations at a low latitude Station in the South Pacific Region during the low solar activity period, Presented in AOGS 13th Annual Meeting/conference, 31 July to 5 Aug, 2016, Beijing, China.

• Rajesh Singh, Ajeet K. Maurya, Oliver Charnion, Torsten Neubert, Steven A. Cummer, Jansuz Mlynarczyk, József Bór,& Devendraa Siingh, Morris B. Cohen and Sushil Kumar, First observations of Gigantic Jets from Monsoon Thunderstorms over India, Presented in European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2016 (Session NH1.2/AS1.6/SSS2.25), Vienna, Austria, 17–22 April 2016.

• Ashneel Chandra, Sushil Kumar and Abhikesh Kumar, Lightning activity variation during the evolution of tropical cyclones in the southwest Pacific region. Presented in 2015 AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, California, USA, 14-18 December 2015.

• Sushil Kumar and Abhikesh Kumar, VLF perturbations associated with solar eclipses of November 2012 and May 2013 in the south pacific region. Presented in 2015 AGU Fall  Meeting, San Francisco, California, USA, 14-18 December 2015.

•  Sushil Kumar, Abhikesh Kumar, Ajeet K Maurya, and Rajesh Singh, Early VLF perturbations at low latitude in the South pacific region: awesome and SOFTPAL observations, 6th VERSIM Workshop, Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand, 20-23 January 2014.

• Sushil Kumar and Abhikesh Kumar, Space Weather Effects on the Low Latitude D-Region Ionosphere during Solar Minimum, Presented in International CAWSES (Climate of Sun Earth System) II symposium, Nagoya University, Japan. 18-22 November 2013.

• Abhikesh Kumar, Sushil Kumar, Masashi Hayakawa, and Frederik Menk, VLF perturbations at Low latitude Associated with D7ecember 2006 Natural Hazard Events: Indonesia Region Earthquake and Geomagnetic Storm. Accepted in AOGS 2013, Brisbane, Australia, from 24 to 28 June 2013.

• Sushil Kumar and Abhikesh Kumar, Tracking of tropical cyclonic storms and thunderstorms in the South Pacific region – Application of World-Wide Lightning Location Network, Science, Technology and Resources Network (STAR) Conference,3-6 November, 2012, Noumea, New Caledonia.

• K.J.W.Lynn, J.B. Brundell, S. K. Chakrabarti, Rajesh Singh, B.Veenadhari, C. T. More , M.B. Cohen, S. Kumar, Non-reciprocity observed between the VLF reception of  NWC (19.8 kHz) over trans-equatorial  east-west paths to India with reception over a non-equatorial west-east path of similar length to Dunedin, New Zealand, COSPAR Scientific Assembly, Mysore, India. 2-12 July 2012.

• Ajeet Maurya,  Rajesh Singh, B. Veenadhari, Sushil Kumar,  M.B. Cohen, R. Shelvakaran, Sneha Gokani, P. Pant, A.K. Singh, Umaran S. Inan, Nighttime D-region density measurements from Tweek radio atmospherics recorded at low latitudes Presented in Indo-US VLF workshop, 27 Nov-01 Dec 2011, Goa, India.

• Abhikesh Kumar and Sushil Kumar, A study on subionospheric VLF signals observed in Fiji. Presented in Indo-US VLF workshop, 27 Nov-01 Dec 2011, Goa, India.

• Sushil Kumar, Rajesh Singh, B. Veenadhari, Abhikesh Kumar, and Ajeet Maurya, Space Weather: ELF-VLF observations, Presented in Indo-US VLF workshop, 27 Nov-01 Dec 2011, Goa, India.

• Sushil Kumar, Solar activity control on the climate change of the Earth’s lower and upper atmosphere, Presented, International Conference on Chemistry, Environment and Climate Change, 14-16 September 2011, USP, Fiji.

• Sushil Kumar and Abhikesh Kumar, Ionospheric response to the space weather events during December 2006 in the South Pacific Region, International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) General Scientific Assembly, 28 June -07 July 2011, Melbourne, Australia.

• Sushil Kumar, A brief Review of the long term effect of Climate Change on the upper atmosphere and ionosphere – Space Weather Contribution, International Conference on Climate Renewable energy and Climate Change, 6-10 December 2010, The University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji.

• Sushil Kumar and Abhikesh Kumar, Morphological features of Subionospheric VLF signals Observed in Fiji with AWESOME setup, presented in VLF Sharjah-Stanford Workshop, Sharjah, 22-24 February, 2010.

• B. Veenadhari, Rajesh Singh, Sushil Kumar and Ajeet Maurya,  Low Latitude – Sferics, Tweeks and Whistlers: Present Understanding and Future Prospective, Tutorial presented in VLF Sharjah-Stanford Workshop, Sharjah, 22-24 February, 2010.

• Sushil Kumar, Rajesh Singh, B. Veenadhari, Ajeet Maurya, Lightning Generated Sferics: Diagnostics Tools to Study Upper Atmosphere, Presented in AOGS 2010, Hyderabad, 2010.

• Sushil Kumar and Abhikesh Kumar, Further Investigations on Subionospheric VLF Perturbations Observed at Suva, Fiji, presented in American Geophysical Union- Chapman Conference on the Effects of Thunderstorms and Lightning in the Upper Atmosphere, Penn State University, USA, 10-15 May, 2009.

• Sushil Kumar, World-Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN) and GPS- possibility of weather and telecommunication hazards detection, presented in United Nations Regional UN-SPIDER Workshop: Building Upon Regional Space-based Solutions for Disaster Management and Emergency Response for the Pacific Region”, Suva, Fiji, 16 – 19 September 2008.