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Atmospheric Studies

Understanding climate and space weather patterns is critical for protecting the environment. SRI performs atmospheric studies through its Center for Geospace Studies and Molecular Physics Program.

Researchers in SRI's Center for Geospace Studies examine the fundamental processes governing the upper atmosphere and space to understand, for instance, how changes in the atmosphere affect the environment and weather. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), SRI has developed the Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radar (AMISR), a state-of-the-art system that collects critical data for studying global climate trends.

In cooperation with the U.S. National Science Foundation and Denmark's Meteorological Institute, Center researchers also study the polar upper atmosphere at the SRI-managed Sondrestrom Upper Atmospheric Research Facility in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland.

In 2011, SRI was selected by the NSF to manage, operate, and maintain the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Preeminent for its research in astronomy, planetary studies, and space and atmospheric sciences, the observatory is the world's largest, most sensitive single-dish radio telescope.

SRI also participates in missions dedicated to space weather and atmospheric research. Recent work includes the launch of SRI’s Radio Aurora Explorer CubeSat on a Minotaur-IV rocket as part of a space test by the Department of Defense.


screenshot of the SCORE software application

Studying Topography, Orographic Rainfall and Ecosystems

STORE uses Google Earth to help students investigate projected climate changes in their own areas.

an AMISR array

Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radar (AMISR)

SRI leads development of a modular, mobile radar facility used by research scientists and students from around the world.

spectral glow

Terrestrial Atmosphere Studies: Iron Oxide in the Mesosphere

Spectral emission studies reveal meteorites’ contribution to airglow.

Two SRI researchers work on a RAX CubeSat

Radio Aurora Explorer (RAX) CubeSat

Disruptions in Earth's ionosphere from solar activity can cause communications blackouts, negatively affecting GPS and radio signals. SRI’s revolutionary small satellites offer a novel way to monitor such conditions.