Terrestrials and Extraterrestrials: Divine Nexus for Man’s Comfort
INAUGURAL LECTURE SERIES 70
Federal University of Technology, Akure
Tuesday July 7, 2015
Professor Akeem Babatunde Rabiu fras, fngs
B.Sc. (Ilorin), M.Sc. Ph.D (Nigeria)
Professor of Space Physics
The Vice Chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Akure
Other Vice Chancellors here present
Rectors of Polytechnics
The Director General, National Space Research and Development Agency,
The Chief of Defence Space Agency
Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic and Development)
Other Principal Officers of the University
Deans, Directors and Heads of Departments
My Lord, Spiritual and Temporal,
Men of Nigerian Armed Forces
Captains of industries,
Fellow Academic and Professional Colleagues
Friends joining us online and via social media from all over the world
Distinguished Guests and Friends of the University
Gentlemen of the fourth estate
Great Nigerian Students,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
It is with great gratitude to the Almighty God and the Father of my Lord, Jesus Christ, that I stand here with great joy to deliver this 70th Inaugural Lecture titled: ‘Terrestrials and Extraterrestrials: Divine Nexus for Man’s Comfort’, as a Professor of Physics with specialty in Space Physics being the 4th from the Department of Physics of this great University. Ladies and gentlemen, after much ado I was officially announced to the full chair of Professor of Physics by Professor Adebisi M. Balogun, the immediate past Vice Chancellor, on 12thof February 2012 – his very last working day in the office as Vice Chancellor. This was backdated to October 1st 2010, thanks to the divine intervention, fair play and the propriety with which my assessment was handled.
An inaugural lecture is supposed to be a lecture formally inducting a person into a new office. In ideal circumstances, such lectures are delivered within 12 months of assuming the status of a Professor; provide the community with the opportunity to meet the new professors, provide a platform to showcase and celebrate the Institution’s new professors. Each lecture represents a significant milestone in an academic’s career, providing official recognition of their promotion to professor, bringing benefits to the lecturer, their Department and Institution as a whole. Unfortunately, this tradition is done at stale level in most Nigerian Universities and rarely observed in some. I am so privileged by God to be among the few that do theirs within five years of attaining the Professorship. I hold this credence to the favour of my God and the largesse of my amiable Vice Chancellor.
Journey to Physics
My studying Physics was more of a divine appointment than human-making. My dad was the one that approached someone for assistance with respect to my admission at the University of Ilorin, my University of third choice at my first JAMB attempt. My dad had no idea of what the course would be. The golden day was Tuesday 25th November 1986 when my dad came home bringing me a supplementary admission slip. So I studied Physics at the University of Ilorin and graduated in 1990.
Mr Vice Chancellor, Sir, Physics has always been interesting to me right from my secondary school days. Physics is a beautiful branch of science that has to do with the study of energy and matter. Energy is the ability to perform work, while matter is the measure of inertia in an object. Domain of physics extend from microscopic scale to very large scale, such as the size of an electron and its vibration in an atom on one hand and the big stars like the Sun and its various activities which include energy generation in its core, acceleration of energy/particles to its surface, and outward/omnidirectional radiation of energy to the planets in its solar system.
Philosophy of Physics is at the heart of every scientific discovery and gives explanation to behaviours of numerous systems which are made up of matter and their interactions with one another: these encompass all natural and physical systems available within the Universe including, all humans and other objects of creation and their activities.
Physicists engage scientific concepts to characterize and establish principles governing behaviours of physical phenomena, while the philosophy of Physics builds on the results from the scientific experiment/investigation.
Plaga (1997) asserted that human consciousness has to play a special role in physics and recounted the words of Bohr (1934): ‘the purpose of physics is…. not to disclose the real essence of phenomena but only to track down … relations between the manifold aspects of experience’. Today, Physics has found explanation for many physical phenomena as well as applications in everyday life. A musician playing guitar is applying the principles of physics that allow him to generate multiple tones that are functions of the dimensions and natural frequency of the striking string. All musical instruments are actually built on the principles of sound production as rooted in Physics. Even the art of singing with different tones from a single voice is as a result of exerting control on the tension on the larynx to vary the shape and in turn generating varying beats in relation to the natural frequency of the organ. So we can say that every living thing that sings or talks with varying voices live by Physics. No wonder ‘African beats’ remains the band name of our own legendary King Sunny Ade. When we lift morsel of food from plate to mouth, an arm serve as a third-class lever machine with the food playing the load in our hand, the elbow is the fulcrum, and the biceps muscle, which ties onto the forearm about an inch below the elbow, applies the effort. It is this lever action that makes it possible for us to flex our arms so quickly. Imagine what we hold with our hands on daily basis, ATM cards, cell phones, etc.
Also, one of the many laws of Physics, known as the second law of thermodynamics that deals with orderliness, states that ‘the entropy of an isolated system increases’. This law has application in day to day life. Entropy is a measure of disorderliness. The implication of this law is that naturally, an object or systems without external control tends to migrate from a state of orderliness to that of disorderliness or from a lower level of disorderliness to a higher level of disorderliness. This is the reason why nations are governed by constitutions; homes are governed by rules, institutions by regulations etc. It goes well to say that a child without control is liable to grow to a societal nuisance with time. The question here is what is the state of your entropy?
Physics is applicable wherever humans and matters are found; in every home, hospitals, farms, offices and at the centre of planetary interiors; even in vacuum. Physics is the bedrock of engineering and technology. It is no gainsaying that physics is the pride of science, while engineering at its best is applied physics. Johannes Kepler (1571 -1630) propounded the laws of planetary motion in 1596 which were combined with other physical laws to execute the successful launch of the Russian SPUTNIK, first satellite on 4th October 1957. So far, according to the NASA National Space Science Data Center NSSDC Master Catalog, over 40,000 tracked objects including about 7000 Satellites had been launched into space environment and sustained in their orbits by laws of Physics. Imagine the world today without satellite technology! Physics drives the world even as space technology rules the world.
Terrestrials and extraterrestrials
Terrestrials refer to our own Earth where humans live and its immediate environment which includes the oceans and the lower atmosphere which encompasses the air craft flying altitudes.
Extraterrestrials refer to the objects and locations outside the terrestrials such as the stars including the Sun, the other planets with their moons where applicable, interplanetary medium, the space environment including the Earth’s upper atmosphere, and other galaxies in the universe.
As a scientist who believes in God, I see the terrestrials and extraterrestrials as the handiworks of God on the first day of creation as described in Genesis chapter one verses one to eight (KJV):
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2 And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
The nexus between the terrestrials and extraterrestrials manifest in forms of natural and man-induced interactions between them. These nexus include the transmission of high frequency radio waves from the earth through the space environment and its reception on Earth; propagation of sun-emitted electromagnetic radiation through the space to the earth and its conversion to photosynthesis by plants as primary food producers in the food chain; the microgravity environment in the space environment where satellites and space stations are domiciled; the solar radiation with its enormous potential energy within the reach of humans in the terrestrial environment; space-earth communication as facilitated by satellite technology; and the ultimate effort of terrestrial man to optimize the extraterrestrial for his comfort.
It is no argument today that advances in space technology has made the Earth a better and more comfortable place to live in. With myriads of operational satellites domiciled in the extraterrestrial environment, space-based technologies have continued to ease the burden of terrestrial men in almost all human endeavours. Today, virtually, every system has gone electronic and space-dependent, such that: we have e-commerce; e-agriculture; precision farming; autonomous navigation being used in air (auto-piloting), land and sea navigation; unmanned aerial vehicles; e-health, tele-medicine, autonomous aerial surveillance; Global System for Mobile Communication GSM, e-banking including the use of popular Automatic Teller Machines ATM and all sorts of credit/debit cards. It is obvious that human ability to harness the divine nexus between the terrestrials and extraterrestrials has made the present day man more comfortable than any of his ancestors.
The nexus between the terrestrials and the extraterrestrials which basically capture the inter-relationships between the three objects of creation: the Sun, the space environment and the Earth; is the subject of today’s monologue.
Extraterrestrials: The Sun and the space environment
The universe is made up of several galaxies. A galaxy is made up of an aggregate of stars and planetary bodies. Our own Earth is a planet that exists in one of these galaxies; popularly known as our Galaxy and for distinction sake refers to as the Milky Way. Sun is one of the billions of stars in the Milky Way, our Galaxy. A star is a ball of hot gasses. The Andromeda Galaxy, at 2.4×1019 km away, is the nearest major galaxy to our Milky Way. The Andromeda Galaxy is the largest galaxy of the Local Group, which also contains the Milky Way, and about 45 other smaller galaxies (Rabiu, 2003).
The sun is a dynamic star with radius of about 696,000 km and it rotates about its axis with a period that increases with latitude from 25 days at the equator to 36 days at poles (the period of this differential rotation is often taken to be 27 days).
Our solar system is located near the outskirts of the Galaxy, about 25,000 light-years from the galactic center, on a spiral arm moving with an orbital velocity of about 250 kms-1 (Campbell, 1997).
According to SCOSTEP (1998) the Sun is the primary source of electromagnetic energy powering atmospheric and oceanic circulation and photosynthesis in the biosphere.
The Sun thus furnishes directly or indirectly all of the energy supporting life on Earth because all foods and fuels are derived ultimately from plants using the energy of sunlight.
The Sun’s photosphere is the top surface of the convection zone that extends to the boundary of the visible disk. It is from this visible surface of the Sun that most of the energy escapes as electromagnetic wave (light) into space.
When photographed the solar surface regularity show dark spots. These notable photospheric structures are regions of gas, slightly cooler than their surroundings, which are shaped by long magnetic fields and referred to as sunspots. These sunspots are the centres of activity on the Sun surface as they are the seats of solar flares, coronal mass ejections (CME’s), cosmic rays and other energetic phenomenon that affect the earth and its environment. Sunspots are regions of exceptionally intense magnetic field of several thousand Gauss located in the two hemispheres of the sun. The more the sunspots, the more active the sun is. For example the sunspot number on 2nd April 2015 was 25 while the sunspot number Rz on same 2nd April 2014 was 86. The sunspot number has been used as a measure of solar activity (e.g. Rabiu 2002, 2004a; Rabiu and Omotosho 2003; Rabiu et al., 2005; Ndeda et al., 2009a; and Olusegun et al., 2014).
The Sun has enough hydrogen in its core to continue nuclear fusion, allowing it to shine steadily for another five billion years. Then with its core converted to Helium, it will begin to expand into red giant star, growing so large that it will engulf the earth. Over the following billion years, the Sun will fuse its helium into carbon and undergo a series of expansions and contractions. Eventually it will die and become a cold, dark cinder in the Milky Way.
The Earth’s Atmosphere
The atmosphere of Earth is a layer of mixture of gases – called air – surrounding the planet Earth and is retained by Earth’s gravity. The atmosphere is a mixture of nitrogen (78 %), oxygen (21 %), other gases (1 %) and a variable amount of water vapor
The atmosphere protects life on Earth by absorbing ultraviolet solar radiation, warming the surface through heat retention (greenhouse effect), and reducing temperature extremes between day and night.
The atmosphere becomes less dense with increasing altitude. The temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere varies with altitude as one move away from the earth towards the Sun. The vertical profile is divided into four distinct layers: the troposphere, stratosphere ,mesosphere, and thermosphere. The upper boundaries of these layers are called the tropopause, stratopause, mesopause, and thermopause, respectively.
The ionosphere is the upper part of the Earth’s atmosphere from altitude of about 50 km upwards where there are ions and free electrons in sufficient quantity as to affect the propagation of radio waves. Thus the ionosphere is a conducting medium in the upper atmosphere.
The ionization which is caused at these levels mainly by solar ultraviolet and X-ray radiations, reaches peak values at well-defined altitudes of the atmosphere giving rise to stratification in the region. Thus the ionosphere is classified into four layers represented by the symbols D (50-90 km), E (90-160 km), F1 (160-200 km) and F2 (above 200km)
The ionosphere is in a state of constant and complex motion. Many complex interactions occur in the ionosphere. The layers are occasionally violently disturbed by energetic solar corpuscular particles which can interfere with radio communications.
The study of the physics of the lower atmosphere which comprises of the troposphere and lower stratosphere is known as Meteorology. While, Aeronomy refers to the study of the physics of the upper atmosphere or ionosphere. The lowest 1 km or so of the atmosphere differs from the remaining troposphere in that interactions with the surface are strong and significant. This region is referred to as the planetary boundary layer.
The ionosphere is characterized by a large dipole-like field charged particles, and tidal motions. These wind and tidal motions drive dynamo-like currents in the ionosphere. These equivalent currents include, but not limited to: Solar quiet daily Sq currents, Auroral electrojet, equatorial electrojet, Field aligned currents, etc… (Rabiu 2008). The fact is that the upper atmosphere over us is an electrical medium with variable conductivity that drives the varying currents in consistency with the electrodynamics of the region which is highly controlled by solar activity.
Mr Vice Chancellor, Sir, solar quiet daily Sq currents is a worldwide ionospheric currents responsible for Sq variation in the Earth’s magnetic field. It’s center is located at about 118 km and has a focus in each of the hemispheres (Onwumechili, 1997). In a narrow region around the dip equator, the H component of Sq field becomes very large and positive. This sudden enhancement which was first observed at Huancayo in 1922 has been attributed to a narrow intense ionospheric current which flow eastwards within the narrow strip flanking the dip equator (Egedal, 1947, 1948; Chapman 1951; Onwumechili 1967, Forbes 1981). This unique equatorial ionospheric current was later, in May 1951, named by Sydney Chapman ‘the Equatorial electrojet’ in his presidential address to the Physical Society of London.
The existence of the equatorial electrojet (EEJ) is as a result of large Hall polarization and hence large value of Cowling conductivity at the dip equator where the Earth’s field is horizontal (Fleagle and Businger, 1963).
On occasion, at quiet periods during certain hours of the day, particularly in the morning and evening hours, the EEJ reverses direction and flows westwards giving rise to the so-called ‘counter electrojet (CEJ)’ phenomenon (Gouin, 1962; Gouin and Mayaud, 1967).
The Earth’s magnetosphere
The Earth’s magnetosphere partly shields the Earth against galactic cosmic rays GCRs and solar energetic particles SEPs.
Space weather describes variations in the Sun, solar wind, magnetosphere, ionosphere, and thermosphere, which can influence the performance and reliability of a variety of space-borne and ground-based technological systems and can also endanger human health and safety [Koons et al., 1999, Royal Academy of Engineering, 2013]. That is, the concept of changing environmental conditions in the extraterrestrials. It deals with the interactions of ambient radiation & matter within interplanetary, and occasionally interstellar space. Space weather thus describes the nexus between the extraterrestrials and terrestrials, as it captures the interaction between the solar wind and the Earth’s magnetosphere among other physical processes. Space weather, like terrestrial weather, is pervasive and challenging.
The Sun is the major driver of space weather. Some of the solar wind energy finds its way into the Earth’s magnetosphere, ionosphere and atmosphere, and drives the magnetospheric convection system and energizes much of the plasma on the Earth’s magnetic field lines, drives field line resonances and other geomagnetic pulsations, creates geomagnetic activity, heats the polar upper atmosphere, drives large neutral atmospheric wind. Solar wind flows from the Sun, crosses the Earth’s bow shock where it is slowed, heated, and deflected about the magnetospheric cavity.
The solar wind blows the Earth’s dipole field into a comet-like structure compressing the dayside geomagnetic field from 25 RE (RE means radius of the Earth) to as small as 6RE and extending the downwind tail far past the Moon’s orbit; thus modify the geomagnetic field. Axford (1967) suggested that the ring current effect; most of the trapped corpuscular radiation, the disturbance field magnetic variations, atmospheric heating, the aurora, and other high latitude ionospheric phenomena are the direct result of the solar wind-magnetospheric interaction.
The Sun is a nearly constant source of optical and near-infrared radiation. However, there is considerable variability during storm periods at EUV, X-ray and radio wavelengths. During these periods, the Sun is also more likely to generate high-energy solar energetic particles (SEPs) and the solar wind plasma speed and density, forming part of the solar corona, can increase substantially. Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are one manifestation of the latter and stream interaction regions (SIRs), formed when fast streams in the solar wind overtake and compress slow streams, also occur.
Extreme space weather is thought to be associated with fast (>800 km s-1) CMEs, which are preceded by a shock wave that compresses the ambient solar wind plasma and magnetic field
If the deflection of that magnetic field is strongly southward, the CME sheath can initiate severe geomagnetic storms.
The result is to produce a more complex pattern of IMF changes as the combined CMEs pass the Earth, driving a longer series of substorms and hence a longer, more intense geomagnetic storm.
Why Study The Extraterrestrials: The Sun and Space Weather
- The visible light from the Sun is convertible to food and nutrients by plants in photosynthesis. By extension, the food chain primarily depends on plants. So without plants the ecosystem would have no source of food. Invariably the Sun is the sole support of life on earth! This alone necessitates the study of the Sun and its impacts on our environment and technology.
- The Climate Connection: The basic connection between the Sun and climate finds expression in the pattern of the seasons.
- Space Weather: Solar wind dictates the condition of the “space” region. This “Space Weather” can change the orbits of satellites and shorten mission lifetimes. The excess radiation can physically damage satellites and pose a threat to astronauts. The increased dependence on satellites in space has brought about a strong call for effective space weather forecasting/prediction.
- The Sun as a Star: The proximity of the Sun makes it the key to understanding other stars. We know the Sun’s age, radius, mass, and luminosity (brightness) and we have also learned detailed information about its interior and atmosphere. This information is crucial for our understanding of other stars and how they evolve. No other star can be studied in such detail.
- Solar Terrestrial Activity: The sun modifies the Earth’s atmosphere. Solar – terrestrial activity refers to the effects of energetic particles and electromagnetic fields that originate at the Sun, propagate to the Earth’s magnetosphere, and have drastic effects on the Earth’s atmosphere and geomagnetic field. Disturbances in the solar wind shake the Earth’s magnetic field and pump energy into the radiation belts. Regions on the surface of the Sun often flare and give off ultraviolet light and x-rays that heat up the Earth’s upper atmosphere, shake the Earth’s magnetic field which can also cause current surges in power lines that destroy equipment and knock out power over large areas.
- Among the phenomena that accompany flares is the ejection of very energetic particles that sometimes reach the Earth, disrupting radio communications and causing auroral displays.
- Solar Energy: The radiant energy produced in the Sun as a result of nuclear fusion reactions is transmitted to the Earth through space by electromagnetic radiation in quanta of energy called photons, which interact with the Earth’s atmosphere and surface. This solar energy can be transformed into usable form. The technology is engaged in the use of Photovoltaics.
- Radio waves, depending on their frequencies, can be reflected, attenuated and even scintillated in this ionosphere and other regions of space environment depending on the degree of solar activity.
- The space environment is the home to over 4000 functional satellites that drives the space-based technologies that are domiciled on Earth and provides comfort for the terrestrial man. Some of these technologies include Satellite technology, navigational technology (GNSS technology), Information technology, communication technology, and terrestrial Grid Power systems. Products of Space-Based Technologies are not limited to the following: Tropospheric weather report, GSM telephony; Transaction of business with credit/ATM cards; Online/mobile banking; Navigation by GNSS – personal, air, sea, land; Surfing the Internet; Cable (Satellite) Television; Air travels; Modern Military Warfare.
- Rabiu (2014) submitted that space technology has proven to be a major driver of sustainable development in Agriculture (precision farming); financial transactions; education (illiteracy eradication); tourism; health; land administration; Military; Social security /public safety; navigational systems (autonomous navigations, unmanned aerial vehicles UAV); poverty alleviation and communication. Space technology has tremendous derivable socio-economic benefits.
- Instability in the space environment can lead to any of the following: interruption of space based services, poor performance of satellites, signal loss/fade-out/scintillation/signal degradation, navigational errors, Geomagnetically induced Currents GICs, satellite loss, satellite drag among others. Erinfolami and Rabiu (2010) investigated 17 satellite anomalies and concluded that extreme space weather does contribute to satellite material degradation.
Mr Vice Chancellor, Sir, permit me to read the poem I wrote for this occasion:
Behold the Shining Sun,
Rising at the dawn and setting at the dusk;
After the Sun sets, other stars shine;
The Earth, at the Sun’s strength, does bask.
Extraterrestrial makes home for satellites;
Space-based technologies comfort man;
The Creator made all things for Man;
Space environment meant to give pleasure to man
The earth revolves round the Sun,
The Sun sustains life on Earth;
Yea, the extraterrestrial sustains the terrestrial;
‘The Sun is my all in all’; says the Earth;
No visible light, no photosynthesis;
Chaos in Space Environment, no GSM calls;
Extreme space weather, no ATM withdrawals;
Space environment research, a great call.
My research focus and contributions to knowledge
Mr. Vice Chancellor, Sir, my research scope covers ionospheric physics and space weather research as well as Energy studies with emphasis on solar energy development. For the purpose of this lecture, these are explicitly grouped under terrestrial and extraterrestrial environment as follows, viz:
Energy studies with emphasis on solar energy development,
Ionospheric Physics: radio propagation, Sq studies, equatorial electrojet,
Space weather research
Ever since my postdoctoral experience in 2004 in India, I have become a protagonist of internationally competitive research at all levels as I believe in research that has global currency and expand frontiers of knowledge.
Energy Development and Solar Radiation Models
Energy has been identified as a pivotal index for national development in Rabiu (2006a). Solar radiation is abundant in the Earth’s atmosphere. Solar energy is an alternative energy source that can be used to supplement the conventional energy sources especially in tropical region like ours. Solar energy is a vibrant study in the space program; all the satellites in the space environment are powered by solar power systems. My contributions to energy development with emphasis on solar energy include Rabiu (1995), Falayi and Rabiu (2005, 2008, 2012); Falayi et al., (2006, 2008. 2011); Rabello-Soares, et al, (2008); Bolaji and Rabiu (2008, 2009); and Rabiu (2012) among others.
Mr. Vice Chancellor, Sir, permit me to narrate a short story that relate my contribution to society via my research in energy development. Shortly after Dr Olusegun Agagu’s administration was inaugurated in Ondo State, Nigeria in 2003, a personal assistant to the governor approached me to offer any intervention I could contribute to the government. Then I did an application to the Executive Governor to consider using solar power system to power the moribund water plants in the state. The Governor passed the memo and advised that I should liase with the office of the Commissioner for Special duties. My contact then took me to the special assistant to the Commissioner and we started looking at small scale solar power powered bore holes. We were in the middle of this discussion when I embarked on a 10-month postdoctoral fellowship in India in May 2004. By the time I returned in March 2005, solar powered bore-holes have been deployed in a number of locations in the state. I later got a phone call from my contact who simply mentioned to me that, ‘Dr., you can see that we have implemented your idea of solar powered bore-hole in Ondo state’. For me, this was a great contribution to the society. The nation has since continued to witness proliferation of all forms of solar energy applications.
Rabiu (2006a) highlighted the need for introduction of energy curricula and instruction into our national educational systems. The paper offered ways by which such programme might be organized at the bachelor’s level, and proposed an approach to energy instruction which integrates traditional discipline into four functional areas – policy, generation, supply and education [see Figure below]. It gives me joy that a number of Institutions within our borders and in some African countries are responding to this innovation.
The agriculturists, architects, hydrologists, climatologist, and ventilating engineers depend on availability of information on solar radiation. The technology development of solar energy must start with accurate estimation of radiation data at different stations. Okogbue and Adedokun (2002) emphasized the need to develop ways of estimating the incident solar radiation in Nigeria, West Africa, where such routine measurement was lacking despite the abundance of solar energy in the region. Falayi and Rabiu (2008) noted that the global solar irradiance is affected by the atmospheric condition and meteorological parameters such as turbidity, relative humidity, degree of cloudiness, temperature and sunshine duration (Akinbode, 1992; and others).
The clearness Index KT defined as the ratio of the observed/measured horizontal terrestrial solar radiation H to the calculated/predicted horizontal total extraterrestrial solar radiation, gives the measure of solar radiation extinction in the atmosphere which includes effects due to clouds and solar radiation interaction with other atmospheric constituents. Falayi and Rabiu (2012) stated that different values of the clearness index at different stations may be as a result of differences in concentration of atmospheric contents such as water vapour and aerosols.
Bolaji and Rabiu (2008, 2009) derived an optimized power plant, capable of supplying 15 kW at #809,800. A comparison of this researched optimized cost with current charge of # 14 /kWh indicated that after ten months, the user of the photovoltaic plant will become a free user of electricity for at least twenty years. The optimized photovoltaic plant is long-term cost effective and much cheaper than the non-optimized plants.
Solar forcing on earth’s lower atmosphere
Mr. Vice Chancellor, Sir, the climate of the Earth system is a by-product of a complex interplay of external solar forcing and internal interactions among the atmosphere, the oceans, the land surface, the biosphere and the cryosphere. In the wake of international effort targeted towards proper understanding of the Sun-Earth connection as an external forcing of the Earth’s climate, Rabiu et al (2005) investigated the response of surface air temperature at Ibadan and Ikeja to solar activity during the solar cycle #22 (1987-1996). The consistent and persistent diurnal variation pattern, was explicable in terms of tropospheric heating mechanisms in response to solar activity.
The observed post local noon maximum (at about 1500hr LT) was suggested to be due to the modulation of the solar effects by the tropospheric constituents capable of absorbing the transient radiant heat from the Sun through the upper atmosphere.
Significant negative correlation exists between the surface air temperature and solar activity, which imply that the temperature increases with declining solar activity.
The responses of the atmospheric dynamics and composition are considered to be responsible for this decrease in surface temperature with increasing solar activity.
Rabiu and Omotosho  reported for the first time a negative correlation at all-time levels between total column ozone and solar activity at Ikeja during the period 1993-1997. Nocturnal ozone maximum were observed to be due to local atmospheric circulation. These results indicate that the major stratospheric absorbent, Ozone, suffers more decrease through photochemical reactions enhanced by increasing solar activity and may be responsible for drop in surface temperature as solar activity increases. Similar negative relationships have been observed in variations of geomagnetic and ionospheric activities with solar activity, for examples Ahn et al.  and Rabiu . This similar trend of variation highlights the solar terrestrial-ionosphere-lower atmosphere coupling (terrestrial-extraterrestrial nexus). Olusegun et al., (2014) found evidence of signature of solar activities in tropospheric weather. Evidence abounds that there is a hypothetical line connecting the processes in the Sun, in the magnetosphere, the middle atmosphere and troposphere.
Mr Vice Chancellor, Sir, in 2005, I was appointed by Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology JKUAT Kenya as a visiting professor under the UNESCO grant by African Network of Scientific and Technological Institutions ANSTI to supervise a PhD candidate Jared Ochieng’ Hera Ndeda as the major supervisor. The thesis I supervised was titled, ‘Solar Radiative Variability Forcing of Climate Change on Seasonal to Decadal Scales in Kenya’.
Ndeda graduated in 2008; some scientific results from the research we embarked on were published in Rabiu, et al., (2007a), Ndeda, et al., (2009a, 2009b, 2011); and summarized as follows:
- above 95 % level of statistically significant correlations exist between various meteorological variables and solar indices;
- modal periodicities of 6 and 12 months are detected in climatic parameters in all the meteorological stations apart from Kericho;
- the models from the Fast Fourier analysis technique, show variations of solar forcing on climatic parameters at different locations in Kenya;
- periodicities of 3.5 and 11 years in drought occurrences are also comparable to solar activity periodicities;
- solar control is also evident on the climate of Kenya.
Ionospheric Physics and Space Weather Research
My research activities in the ionospheric and space weather studies (extraterrestrial environment) started in 1989 under the supervision of Professor John O Oyinloye at the University of Ilorin as a final year project student. (He later became Vice Chancellor of UNILORIN). We monitored the high frequency HF radio signal transmitted from the then Federal Radio Corporation Nigeria FRCN Lagos at 4.99 MHz and received at Ilorin in Ordinary ‘O’ and extra-ordinary ‘X’ modes due to the birefringent nature of the ionosphere. The results published in Rabiu and Oyinloye (1995) include:
- The midday value of the signal strength for both O- and X- modes was about half of the night value
- The absorption on both O- and X- modes reach the peak during the day at about noon and decrease toward the morning and the evening
- The O-mode signal is stronger than the X-mode signal by a mean factor of 1.28 ± 0.18.
- Ionospheric absorption is greatest around noon and decreases towards morning and evening hours
- Greater daytime ionospheric absorption can be attributed to the fact that the D-region of the ionosphere where collisional frequency and hence absorption coefficient is greatest due to its greatest regional neutral molecular density appears only during the day time being strongest about noon and disappear at night
- This explained why we often receive better BBC and VOA radio signals in the night than daytime. Ionospheric dynamics play critical role in radio waves signal transmission at high frequencies.
We have reported diurnal and seasonal variations of solar quiet daily Sq variation in geomagnetic field at Muntilupa (Rabiu, 1992), Wingst, Aquila and Fustenfelbruck (Rabiu and Okeke, 1995; Rabiu, 1996; Okeke and Rabiu, 1998, 1999, 2000), India (Okeke et al, 1998; Okeke and Rabiu, 2000), Ibadan (Rabiu et al., 2007b), and Owolabi, et al., (2014);
The diurnal variations of solar quiet daily variation, Sq, and solar disturbance daily variation, Sd, follow some definite patterns on quiet and disturbed days respectively. The absolute value of Sq (H) daily variation rises from 0006hrs LT, reaches the peak at about 12 noon, and reclines to low level at 0018 hrs LT. In general, the daytime magnitudes are much greater than the night time magnitudes for all the months of the year. This variation pattern is explicable in terms of the augmentation in the ionosphere due solar activity effect on the electrodynamics of the ionosphere (Onwumechili 1997; Rabiu and Okeke, 1995).
Expectedly, the scattering of the day-to-day variation is more on the disturbed condition than the quiet condition even at Ibadan in 1970 (Rabiu et al., 2007b).
For example, a day noted for a very pronounced daytime disturbance is marked as May 26, 1970 and confirmed to be a stormy day with Disturbance storm index Dst value of −46 . Generally the magnitude of the variation on disturbed days are always greater than those of quiet condition and this should be due to extra input of energy into the ionosphere during storms and other ionospheric phenomena.
Rabiu (2002) argued that the presence of equatorial and auroral electrojets in the neighbourhood of low and high latitude respectively enhances the variation of H component at those latitudes; and could also explain why mid-latitude, lacking such enhancement, manifest more variation in Sq(Z). Obviously the geometry of the geomagnetic field as well as the morphology of the ionosphere at mid-latitudes are quite different from those of the low and high latitudes.
In setting the pace in utilization of data from ground-based MAGDAS installed in 10 African countries, we produced the first Master’s thesis using MAGDAS data generated in Africa in 2011. The thesis written by Olawale Ramon BELLO was titled:” Solar Quiet Daily Variation (Sq) in Earth’s Magnetic Field along African 96o Magnetic Meridian (MM)”. A complimentary copy of the thesis mailed to the managing institution of MAGDAS is proudly displayed in the library of the International Centre for Space Weather Science and Education ICSWSE, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan for record purpose. Being a pioneer study, the thesis is given a pride of place in our international collaboration in instrumentation deployment and ionospheric Sq research. The thesis documented the deployment of MAGDAS in Africa and introduced users to modest means of analysing MAGDAS data for various scientific purposes. Subsequently, Bello et al (2013) presented the following results for Sq variation along African 96o Magnetic Meridian (MM):
- the focus of Sq(H) in the southern hemisphere lies at the boundary of low and middle latitude regions in Africa;
- Noon-time enhancement of Sq(H) was generally noticed at all stations along the meridian, though it is latitudinal dependent in terms of magnitude as it reduces with distance away from dip equator;
- Semi-diurnal variation was noticed in Sq(D) at all stations except in AAB that is under the influence of electrojet current;
Our recently published results on Sq in Bolaji et al., (2015a) are summarized as:
- Spatial variability of Sq (in H and Z) occur at all time scales over Africa. This was explained in terms of redistribution of responsible ionospheric currents, foci of Sq currents and some localized events such as ocean effects.
- An asymmetry in the hemispherical variation of Sq: as we found that Nairobi and Dar es Salaam at the Southern Hemisphere, which are close to ABB (dip equator), are strongly prone to westward electric field compared to the magnetic equator and Khartoum at the Northern Hemisphere.
- Significant negative values of MSq(Z) magnitudes observed near noon hours at Hermanus indicate the presence of induced currents that suggest ocean effects along with reversal to significant positive values in the afternoon, which subsided before 1800 LT in almost all the months, indicate stronger influence of ionospheric currents.
- Semiannual variation of Sq(H) with March equinoctial maximum.
- a slight depression at ABB during September equinox is an evidence of seasonal Sq focus shift.
Day-To-Day Variability In Geomagnetic Field Variations
A quantitative study on ionospheric variability is a necessity for developing any suitable model for Ionospheric phenomenon. Rabiu (1992) conducted a pilot study of the day-to-day variability of geomagnetic field variation at a fixed local time hour from one day to the next at Muntilupa in the Philippines, a low latitude station. Thereafter, Okeke (1995) and Okeke et al (1998) showed that the day-to-day variability of Sq amplitudes at Indian sector occurred at all hours of the day among other results. Rabiu et al., (2007c) examined the diurnal and seasonal variations of the day to day variability at both quiet and disturbed conditions over an East African station.
The variability of the D component of the EEJ field at certain stations in the EEJ zone implies that the EEJ current system has not only an east–west but also a north–south component. Thus the D aspect of our results, which was first seen in Rabiu (1992) at Muntilupa, could not be explained until we saw the results of Rastogi (1996) and Onwumechili (1997b). They validated the implication of the EEJ vortex produced by Onwumechili (1997b) that the EEJ is not only an eastward current but also has a meridional return component
Equatorial Ionosphere and Its Electrojet
Rabiu et al (2013) asserted that the study of equatorial ionosphere and its current systems has continued to gain attention due to its increasing significance in the earth-satellite communication, applications in space weather studies and source field problems in magnetotellurics.
Onwumechili (1966a,b,c, 1967) presented a two dimensional model of the continuous current distribution responsible for EEJ, having both width and thickness represented in the same model unlike others:
where j (μA m- 2) is the eastward current density at the point (x, z). The origin is at the centre of the current, x is northwards and z is downwards. The model is extensible to three dimensions by introducing the coordinate y or longitude θ or eastwards local time t. j0 is the current density at the centre, a and b are constant latitudinal and vertical scale lengths, respectively, α and β are dimensionless parameters controlling the current distribution latitudinally and vertically, respectively. It is a meridional plane model, which has to be applied to specific longitudes or local times in this simple form. Once the five parameters jo, a, α, b, and β are determined by fitting observational data, a number of physical parameters of the current and its magnetic field can be calculated from them.
This is simplified as equations 9 and 10:
(sg. z) P4 X – ½ k [(1+b)(v + av +2aa)(δ – xo + b)2
+ 2(1- b)(v + av + 4a -2aa)(δ – xo + b)
+ (1+ b)(v + av + 2a)(v + a)2] = 0 (9)
– (sg.x) P4 Z – ½ k [(1+ a)(1+ b)(δ – xo + b)3 + ((1+ a)(1+ b)(δ – xo + b)2
+ (1+ b)(v + av + 3a – aa) (v + a) (δ – xo + b)
– (1- b) b (v + av + 3a – aa) (v + a)] = 0 (10)
It is obvious from Eqs. (9) and (10) that both H and Z which are measurable quantities at magnetic observatories are individually expressible in terms of k, a, α, b, β, δ and xo. The first five parameters (k, a, α, b, and β) are the model parameters; xo is a parameter of the current; δ and v are known values at any point of observation. Eqs. (9) and (10), thus reflect a nonlinear function F (k, a, α, b, β, xo) of magnetic field variations in each of the components X and Z, can be written such that
F (k, a, α, b, β, xo) = 0
Onwumechili (1997a) highlighted the many successes of his continuous current distribution over the years and noted that the five model parameters have never been obtained from a single autonomous set of ground data using the thick current shell, since its introduction. The thick current shell format of the model, which takes into account both the width and the thickness of the jet, contains all the five parameters in a nonlinear form that makes it complicated for trivial attempt.
It is a composite format capable of describing in detail the latitudinal and vertical flow of the EEJ.
Rabiu and Nagarajan (2008a) developed an algorithm that engaged the Levenberg-Madquart optimization technique to evaluate the five parameters needed to fully describe the Onwumechili’s composite thick current shell model format from a single autonomous set of ground data.
Rabiu et al (2013) evaluated all the five parameters that completely define the continuous current distribution of the equatorial electrojet from a single set of ground data during low solar activity for the first time since its introduction, and generated the daytime hourly profiles of the model and electrojet parameters over the Indian sector, thus produced results that have hitherto not been obtained with ground magnetic data.
An anonymous reviewer of the article in Journal of Atmospheric and Solar Terrestrial Physics JASTP opened his review with the remark: “I would like to start by saying I am very well impressed with the great work done for bringing this results up. The manuscript presents a comprehensive set of new results, supported by several other previous works and covers most of the EEJ description, both spatial (3D) and temporal (when it includes seasonal dependences). I have certainly no doubts that the paper should be accepted for publication in the JASTP since it brings clear contribution to the knowledge with respect to the EEJ over the Indian sector.”
One of the outstanding results we obtained using the thick current shell is the diurnal variation of the thickness of the EEJ which is opposite of its current intensity and half width.
So the thicker the EEJ the weaker it becomes, and vice versa. Anandarao and Raghavarao (1987) noted that the zonal wind shears can decrease or increase the width of jet by as much as 100% depending upon their direction, strength and altitude, and concluded that “if the width of the jet is increased, then the thickness would decrease and vice versa”. This explanation fits our result. We proposed that it is the effective change in thickness of the jet that is responsible for the variation of its intensity.
This observational evidence from the application of ground data to empirical model was the first of such. Other papers that reported our contributions to parameters of EEJ include Rabiu and Nagarajan (2006, 2007), and Rabiu et al (2009a).
A new geomagnetic index, EE-index
Uozumi et al., (2008), we proposed new geomagnetic index, EE-index (EDst, EU, EL) for monitoring temporal and long-term variations of the equatorial electrojet. The EE-index, was derived from the data of the MAGDAS/CPMN equatorial network. The MAGnetic Data Acquisition System MAGDAS and the Circum-pan Pacific Magnetometer Network (CPMN) were developed at various times for real-time monitoring of the electromagnetic and plasma environment in geospace (Yumoto and the MAGDAS Group, 2006). Equatorial Disturbance Storm time index EDst, EU and EL are presented as proxies of Dst for real and long term geospace monitoring, equatorial electrojet and counter electrojet respectively. This index enabled us for the first time to quantify the scale of magnetic disturbances in the equatorial region on near real time basis and thus provide information capable of clarifying the situation of solar-geospace coupling and atmosphere-ionosphere coupling along the magnetic equatorial region at global level.
Thermosphere-Ionosphere Electrodynamics General Circulation Model
Yamazaki et al, (2014) concluded that upward-propagating tides play a substantial role in producing the equatorial electrojet and its seasonal variability. Our results show that the effect of upward-propagating tides accounts for approximately 50% of the geomagnetic daily variation in the magnetic-northward component. It is also shown that the well-known semiannual change in the daily variation is mostly due to upward-propagating tides, especially the migrating semidiurnal tide.
East-West Asymmetry in the African equatorial ionosphere
In a preliminary report, Rabiu et al., (2011) for the first time clearly revealed that the western African EEJ appears weaker than eastern EEJ. This discrepancy suggests that there is a process of re- injection of energy in the jet as it flows eastward. This West-East Asymmetrical behavior in the EEJ strength in the African sector is further confirmed by Folarin (2014) and Yizengaw et al., (2014) using data set from another set of array of magnetometers (AMBER).
Electromagnetic inductive response using Z-H relation
Using the magnetic Z-H relation of 5 stations across the Indian, African and American electrojet stations, Rabiu and Nagarajan (2008b) investigated the electromagnetic response of the subsurface lateral conductivity due to equatorial electrojet during quiet conditions. The EM inductive response was found to be negligible in daytime around local noon, when the EEJ source has zonal symmetry, in all sectors. Strong inductive responses were obtained at the rising and decay periods of the EEJ and were shown, from existing numerical models and prior experimental observations, to be due to the return currents of EEJ. The result represented the first observational evidence of the theoretical model of Ducruix et al., (1977); validated the controversial finding of Fambitakoye (1973) and satisfied the expectation of Vassal et al (1998). The observed inductive response is shown to be in consistency with the electromagnetic theory.
Inter-Hemispheric Field –Aligned Currents IHFACs
Bolaji et al., (2010) reported for the first time the existence of the Inter-Hemispheric Field –Aligned Currents IHFACs mainly at the dusk sector and Trans-Equatorial Field-aligned Currents TEFACs deduced from the Sq(D) within the equatorial region of Africa using MAGDAS data. The climatology and morphology of this inter-hemispheric field-aligned currents system over the Nigeria ionosphere was investigated in details in Bolaji et al., (2012). Diurnal, monthly mean and seasonal variation of IHFACs exist. The nighttime variability fluctuates around zero and is northbound in all the season with December solstice as exception. Our study on IHFAC also showed that D-field variation is a dawn to dusk affair and that the EEJ current system has a north-south component that complements its variability.
Counter equatorial electrojet
We investigated the Counter Electrojet Events using Ilorin Observations during a Low Solar Activity Period specifically year 2009 in Bolaji et al., (2014). Our Main results are:
- The higher numbers of daily counter electrojet (DCEJ) events in the early and late morning are a consequence of the late reversal of westward to eastward currents and sudden generation of CEJ during pre-sunrise hours;
- There is no DCEJ event observation between 1000 LT hr and 1300 LT hr in all months, which indicates that intense eastward electric field (EEJ) was dominant during the period;
- The longest hour of DCEJ duration did not exceed 4-hours, mostly during evening period; and
- The seasonal equatorial lunar effect is insignificant at Ilorin, since the higher number of seasonal CEJ was observed in June solstice.
Comparing the daily occurrences of CEJ at the east (Addis Ababa AAB) and west (Ilorin ILR) Africa in Folarin (2014), we observed that:
- Most frequent simultaneous occurrence of CEJ at both equatorial stations was in the morning (77%);
- There are 41.3% of the occurrence of CEJ in the afternoon between 13:00 LT and 18:00 LT at ILR;
- The longitudinal variability in the local time of occurrence of CEJ along these longitudes is attributed to the differences in meridional currents and some other phenomena.
Total Electron Content TEC studies
Total electron content is a very important ionospheric parameter that has come to serve as proxy for space weather monitoring. Akala et al., (2013), used GPS-TEC data from three African equatorial stations to investigate the response of African equatorial ionosphere to intense geomagnetic storms during the ascending phase (2011–2012) of solar cycle 24. Specifically, four intense geomagnetic storms were considered.
All the intense storms were found to be associated with CME-induced transients, and their drivers were sheath fields behind the shocks. At the African equatorial zone, TEC exhibits positive response to intense geomagnetic storms, with enhancements in the order of 6–25 TECU around 1300–1500 UT. Other contributions on response of the ionosphere to geomagnetic storms include our works in Salami, et al., (2012).
Ogunsua et al., (2014), showed that chaotic quantifiers like Lyapunov exponents and Tsallis entropy can be used together as indices in the study of the variation of the dynamical complexity of the ionosphere.
Rabiu et al., (2014) took advantage of the GPS Facilities installed at some locations in Nigeria during the year 2011 by the Office of Surveyor general of the Federation OSGoF to simultaneously study the diurnal, seasonal, and annual Total electron content (TEC) variations. The TEC exhibits daytime maximum and semiannual seasonal variations. It can be seen that the International Reference Ionosphere IRI and NeQuick modelled values follow the diurnal and seasonal variation patterns of the observed values of VTEC. IRI model produced the best results at all locations with the exception of one station. We recommended an increase in the upper boundary of the models to 20,000 km, in order to include the plasmaspheric TEC in the predictions.
This paper happened to be the first paper that made use of the NIGNET primarily installed for geodetic purpose to investigate space weather effect by estimating TEC. The paper, first published on 15th February 2014, thus opened up the readily available online data set in simplified manner to international community as well as offered some new results for global scientific community. Little wonder that as at 15th January 2015, 285 individuals have since patronized the paper online with global distributions as shown on the article usage dashboard courtesy of www.elsevier.com (assessed 15th March 2015): China – 78, Italy – 28, USA – 22, Nigeria – 18, etc
Chartier et al., (2014) emphasized that accurate ionospheric specification is necessary for improving human activities such as radar detection, navigation, and Earth observation. This is of particular importance in Africa, where strong plasma density gradients exist due to the equatorial ionization anomaly. Our results showed that the inclusion of observations from the AFREF archive significantly reduces ionospheric specification errors across the African sector. In summary, African ionospheric images can be made significantly more accurate if additional receivers such as those available from AFREF archive are used.
Ayorinde (2014) reported a consistent variance in the inter-hour variability of the TEC from one day to another at any station within the equatorial ionospheric anomaly to the station outside the anomaly.
Eyelade (2014) obtained the morphology of TEC variation over Nigeria using NIGNET data and showed that at 07:00 LT hr (sunrise), due to the relative position of the sun as it rises, TEC decreases westwards across all the latitudes. TEC is found to be weakest at this time of the day compared with other daytime values because the intensity of solar radiation is quite low. The effects of the transient variations of ionospheric scintillation and total electron content on GNSS were discussed in Oladosu et al., (2011) and Fayose et al., (2012).
Abe et al, (2012) revealed that foE increases with the increase in solar intensity of the sun. The variability of the foE decreases with increase in the solar activity.The maximum value of the foE is at local noon when the ionosphere is stable; the variability at this local time is minimal. Equinoctial asymmetry occurred in the variation of the relative standard deviation of foE with maximum in September/March equinox for low/high solar activity.
Bolaji, et al, (2015b) observed that the variability of ionospheric time delay over Akure, Nigeria, showed equivalent signatures to vertical total electron content (TEC). Hence, mechanisms responsible for VΔt could be responsible for TEC. Higher monthly mean values of VΔt were observed during daytime as compared to nighttime (pre- and post- midnight) hours in all months. The highest MVΔt observed in September during daytime hours range between ~1.80 and ~6.30 m and at post-midnight, they are in the range of ~1 to ~6 ns (~0.3 to ~1.80 m). The slight increments observed in VΔt around 17:00 and 18:00 LT in all months were attributed to evening renewal of fountain effect, which results from strong upward reversal of F-region EXB drift at equatorial latitudes and development of large pre- reversal enhancement (PRE) velocity. Higher and lowest magnitude of MVΔt observed during pre- and post- midnight hours, respectively, could be due to higher ionization loss rate. Our work showed that telecommunications, geodetic and navigation systems will experience lesser error at night over Nigeria due to minimal VΔt values observed. Hence, users of GPS applications like the military, security agencies, and aviation sector could take advantage of this period for operations and better services.
Participation in International Heliophysical Year IHY and International Space Weather Initiative ISWI
Mr. Vice Chancellor, Sir, I participated in United Nations’ endorsed International Heliophysical Year IHY project. The IHY was to be the 50th anniversary of the International Geophysical Year, and also the 50th anniversary of the start of the Space Age. The cardinal points of IHY were:
- to provide benchmark measurements of the magnetosphere, the ionosphere, the lower atmosphere and Earth surface to identify global processes and drivers which affect the terrestrial climate and space environment;
- to coordinate the global study of the Sun-heliosphere system outward to the heliopause to understand the external, and historic drivers of geophysical change;
- To foster international scientific cooperation in the study of heliophysical phenomena now and in the future; and
- To communicate the unique scientific results of the IHY to the interested scientific and to the general public.
Thus ‘Heliophysics science’ embraces ionospheric physics, magnetospehric physics, heliospheric physics, solar physics and space weather. This new science changed my research perspective and further launched me into the realm of international competitive research of my dream.
I took the lead in promoting the course of IHY in Africa, became the national coordinator of IHY in Nigeria and served in the International Scientific Organizing Committee ISOC of the IHY workshops that held in India (2006), Japan (2007), Bulgaria (2008), South Korea (2009), and Egypt (2010).
African scientists were mobilized to participate in IHY activities which spanned through 2005-2009. International Space Weather Initiative ISWI was later launched by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs UNOOSA in 2009 at the expiration of IHY. The goal of the ISWI is to develop the scientific insight necessary to understand the science, and to reconstruct and forecast near-Earth space weather. This includes instrumentation, data analysis, modeling, education, training, and public outreach.
Mr Vice Chancellor, Sir, my participation in IHY/ISWI enhanced my research capability, formed the basis of the research currency I enjoy today and promote my visibility at international level. Literary contributions to the organization of IHY and ISWI include Rabiu and Balogun (2005), Rabiu (2006b), Rabello Soares et al., (2008), Barton et al., (2009), Barry et al., (2010), and IHY team (2007).
Till date I serve as the African Coordinator of ISWI and also on the International Steering Committee ISC of this global body. In February 2015 I became a member of the United Nations New Expert Group on Space Weather.
Gains of IHY and ISWI in Africa include: Knowledge & technological transfer, Positive collaboration, Availability of Research facilities for internationally competitive research, Publication of scholarly articles in reputable journals, Windows of postgraduate opportunities, organization of several summer schools and workshop in Africa, over 70 postgraduate students were trained at MSc and PhD levels with facilities and resources from these schemes, Control of brain drain, Development of Research in Basic Space Science, enhanced Capacity building, Bridge between North & South, strong intra–continental partnerships amongst African scientists as evident in the formation of the African Geophysical Society (I emerged as the 1st President of AGS at the first meeting of the congress on 12th November 2012 at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)
Equipment deployed to Africa since 2006 include about 20 magnetometers, 4 digisondes, over 20 GPS receivers, 1 Optical Imager, 1 Fabry Perot Interferometer, 3 VLF AWESOME, many Sudden Ionospheric Disturbances SID monitors etc. The first GPS system for monitoring space weather in Nigeria was installed in FUTA and first measurement of ionospheric scintillation was captured on 10th November 2006. The equipment malfunctioned at a time and has since been returned to the overseas donor. However, a replacement which indeed is a better version ‘Septentrio GPS’ and the first of its kind to be deployed in Africa acquired by our Centre for Atmospheric Research, has been installed at our Space Physics Laboratory, FUTA, on 4th June 2015.
The latest of these is the Optical Imager which is a multimillion Naira facility sponsored by the Japanese JSPS whose Principal Investigator PI is Professor Kazuo Shiokawa of Solar Terrestrial Environment Laboratory STEL, Nagoya University, Japan. This equipment is the first of its kind to be installed in Africa and has just been set up in Abuja in June 2015. The choice of Abuja is perfect with a dip latitude of 0.5o S. The Optical Imager captures the space environment up to 500 km over a radial distance of up to 400 km and gives information about travelling ionospheric disturbances, gravity waves and plasma bubbles among other ionospheric phenomena. The first light from the installation is already out and interesting results that have never been captured over Africa have been obtained. This is a product of a negotiation I started in 2008 during my three months stay at the STEL. Our efforts have led to the densification of the facilities for observing the upper atmosphere in Africa and thus changed the landscape of ionospheric and space environment research in the continent.
Mr Vice Chancellor, Sir, I lead research in the following areas in my capacity as the Director and Chief Executive of the Centre for Atmospheric Research of the National Space Research and Development Agency NASRDA:
- Setting up a Space Weather Observation Network over Nigeria SWONON and Africa SWONOA;
- Development of Tropospheric Data Acquisition Network TRODAN;
- Setting up agenda for Atmospheric Chemistry and Environmental Research;
- Atmospheric research software and instrumentation development; and
- Microgravity and human space technology programme.
I am at moment involved in the following research activities:
- Evaluation of EEJ parameters along Asian, African and American sectors using simultaneously obtained ground-based and satellite derived magnetic data.
- Investigation of variability of ionospheric parameters using digisonde
- Coupling effect in the whole atmosphere – Magnetosphere-ionosphere-lower atmosphere; such as impact of Stratospheric Sudden Warming on ionospheric processes.
I already set up discussion on the following activities:
- Observation of occurrence of equatorial plasma bubble and characterization of traveling ionospheric disturbances using recently installed optical imager in Abuja
- Monitoring of atmospheric profiles over Nigeria using Unmanned Area Vehicle
- Aircraft experiment with appropriate atmospheric equipment on board to monitor lower atmosphere over Nigeria
Space-based technologies have found indispensable applications in almost all facets of human’s endeavours. Understanding space environment is pivotal to monitoring space weather. Research in space environment including ionosphere has continued to receive attention due to the relative importance in radio-communication especially space-earth communication which is at the root of most technological applications today.
Mr Vice Chancellor, Sir, as I tidy up this presentation, I hereby submit that I have worked with a number of scientists to produce and publish some of the results presented in this lecture. Together we have solved a couple of problems. For example, we have ascertained the existence of meridional component of the equatorial electrojet, the thickness of the equatorial electrojet has been measured from ground based observation using the thick current shell model of Onwumechili after 43 years of its existence. The interplay between the thickness and the width of the equatorial electrojet as its current and intensity varies had been revealed. We have found the African equatorial ionosphere to be very dynamic; equatorial electrojet is stronger in the east Africa than west Africa. We confirmed that the terrestrial solar irradiance is affected by the atmospheric condition and meteorological parameters such as turbidity, relative humidity, degree of cloudiness, temperature and sunshine duration. These contributed to make the atmospheric clearness index minimum in Nigeria about July and August.
Mr Vice Chancellor, Sir, we have found an equinoctial increase in the energy input in the magnetosphere due to the solar wind-magnetosphere coupling. Our work revealed that only about 14.4% of the subauroral geomagnetic activity could be solely accounted for by the sunspot activity. Spatial variability of Sq occurs at all-time scales over Africa. This was explained in terms of redistribution of responsible ionospheric currents, foci of Sq currents and some localized events such as ocean effects. There is an hemispherical asymmetry in Sq(H) variation along African 96o Magnetic Meridian (MM), and semiannual variation of Sq(H) with March equinoctial maximum. We derived an optimized long-term cost effective solar power plant, and confirmed that there is solar control on the earth’s climate as evident in our research using Kenya and Nigeria climatic data. Our efforts have led to the densification of the facilities for observing the upper atmosphere in Africa and thus changed the landscape of ionospheric and space environment research in the continent. I have successfully supervised and co-supervised over 30 Masters and Doctoral theses, including one each from Kenya and Japan in the course of my growing career.
The increasing patronage of space-based technologies demands continuous research in the field of space environment as we seek to expand the frontiers of knowledge in our chosen field. So, research continues as it is written ‘there is no end to knowledge’.
I hereby make the following recommendations:
- 90 percent of the equipment available for space environment research in Africa had come by foreign intervention. There is need for national government to provide fund for acquisition of needed equipment for space research.
- Data availability over Africa has necessitated upgrading of existing global ionospheric and space environment models to include results from present ground observations in Africa. For example, African ionospheric TEC images can be made significantly more accurate if data from additional GPS receivers are used in its simulation. It is also suggested that the upper boundary of the International Reference Ionosphere IRI and NeQuick models be increased to 20,000 km, in order to include the plasmaspheric TEC in the predictions.
- A nation’s educational curriculum changes with the national need. For sustainable national development to be attained, the tertiary institutions must increasingly direct its curriculum and research agendas towards issues that address basic human and societal needs. There is an urgent need for the nation to embark on aggressive capacity building in all aspect of energy studies. An approach to energy instruction, which integrates four functional areas – policy, production, supply and education- has been proposed. I recommend that FUTA join the train of the Universities with bachelor program in Energy development.
- I propose the establishment of an inter-university corporation for atmospheric and space environment research. The existing Centre for Atmospheric Research of our National Space Research and Development Agency is in a position to coordinate the activities of such corporation for the benefits of the Nation.
- I recommend the introduction of Space Physics as a course of study at Bachelor level in the University. This program can be domiciled as a program in a relevant department.
- Policies favourable to solar energy generation should be encouraged and formulated by policy makers. Conducive environment/policies should be created to enable private participation in solar energy generation. VAT and all forms of taxes should be waived on alternative energy articles such as solar panels, and their accessories. Subsidies should be placed on alternative energy items. Individual communities should be encouraged to generate their own energy.
- Atmospheric and space environment research is an expensive adventure; and so a call is made to the government for increase in fund allocation to our Centre for Atmospheric Research for effective delivery of her mandate.
- Therefore, scientists in all fields in the Universities and R & D parastatals should be mandated to embark on international competitive research. Existing quality assurance scheme in the universities can be used to monitor the compliance of researchers to this positive development.
- Federal Government should maintain the present regime of duty fee-waivers on scientific equipment being ordered by academic and research institutions.
- Effective legislation should be formulated to mandate industries to support scientific research being conducted in the Universities in their relevant operational areas.