The lower ionosphere (70–90 km), a ionized region in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, can be understood as a membrane acting as a sensor to different kinds of phenomena originating at Earth (e.g. lightning) or in space (e.g. space weather). Unexpected strong changes in this region can influence dramatically the performance and reliability of navigation and communication. However, the impact of those phenomena in this region is difficult to quantify accurately. On one hand, this region is too high for balloons and on the other hand it is too low for satellites. In this project, Very Low Frequency (VLF) radio waves will be used because they propagate between the Earth surface and the ionosphere with low attenuation. The researcher will push forward novel scientific understanding of the properties of the lower ionosphere and magnetosphere. She will: (1) determine whether the day-to-day variability of the VLF signal during sunrise can be explained by the ozone variability at its upper boundary, (2) find the yet unknown generation mechanism of VLF banded emissions, and (3) improve the detectability of galactic gamma-ray bursts, known as the most energetic phenomena in the universe. The project is strongly multidisciplinary, involving perspectives and concepts from astrophysics, magnetospheric, ionospheric, atmospheric physics and big data handling. This will be developed by the researcher within the frame of interaction and cooperation with the host and secondments. The results of this proposal have the potential to convey new perspectives in ionospheric and magnetospheric studies and provide some answers to long standing issues within the field of space weather, which has become of central importance in many aspects of human life and industry. As a consequence, by completing this action, Europe will improve its know-how in the topic of this proposal and reinforce its position on a global scale. This project is in line with the EU commission sector on Space and Security.
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