Atmospheric research has long fascinated Andrew Gerrard, PhD, a professor in the department of physics at New Jersey Institute of Technology. His other research interests include Equatorial Spread-F (ESF), an atmospheric phenomenon that leads to instability disruptive to communications and navigation systems--such as satellite communications or GPS signals--over the earth's magnetic equator.
Under Gerrard's direction, a 1.2-meter diameter, fully-steerable Itek optical telescope will soon be installed at Jenny Jump Mountain in Hope, New Jersey. The $1.1 million instrument, which will actually be the largest in the US open to the public, will allow amateurs to peer into the heavens at professional levels and at the same time allow academics to study how growing metropolitan areas can generate gravity waves. These waves affect earth's circulation and may play into climate change. Target date for first light will be spring 2009, when state rangers open access to the forest. The telescope will be used by Gerrard and colleagues to study lower and middle atmospheric gravity waves.
The US Air Force Office of Scientific Research recently awarded Gerrard an $820,000 grant to lead a collaborative effort involving Clemson University, Cornell University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the Geophysical Institute of Peru to study the ESF development in South America. The effort will focus on developing and operating a one-of-a-kind, Fabry-Perot Doppler imager designed for 24-hour observations of thermospheric and mesospheric winds and temperatures in a campaign spanning South America.
Gerrard is also involved with a multi-institutional project in Antarctica led by NJIT Distinguished Research Professor Louis Lanzerotti, a former Bell Labs researcher. The effort accounts for much of the U.S. involvement in space weather research at high latitudes.
He is the author of more than 15 articles in scholarly journals and received his BS in physics from the State University of New York at Geneseo and his doctorate in electrical engineering from Pennsylvania State University.
Last update: June 8, 2011
Topics: atmospheric research, equatorial spread-f, physics