SIMONe Piura: MLT dynamics in between the Geographic and Magnetic Equator

Piura, located in the most western part of the South America, is one of the most sensitive regions in the World to El Niño phenomena. Actually the "El Niño" name was coined in Piura. The mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT) altitudes, where terrestrial weather meets the space weather, is interesting over Piura since it is close to the geographic equator and slightly outside the influence of equatorial electrojet region.  Studies of MLT dynamics on this region will contribute to improve our understanding of planetary waves and tides at low latitudes, and also to the understand the influence of neutral winds on equatorial electrodynamics and plasma irregularities. 


In June-July 2021, we have installed a new multistatic specular meteor radar system called SIMONe Piura.  General details about SIMONe, which uses a mix of MIMO, spread-spectrum, compressed sensing modern concepts in radar, can be found in Vierinen et al. (2016)Chau et al. (2019)Urco et al. (2019). A description of the operational SIMONe can be found in Chau et al. (2021). Contrary to previous SIMONe systems, SIMONe Piura uses 6 antennas with 6 different codes on transmission, and will have six receiver stations. Figure 2 shows the initial configuration of SIMONe Piura. The final location of the receivers will be decided in the next few weeks, depending on the performance.

Figure 1. SIMONe Piura antennas: (a) transmitting array (red) at Universidad de Piura (UDEP), (b) receiving arrays within 50 km from the transmitter (green), and (c) receivers within 50-100 km from the transmitter.

SIMONe Piura is the most recent addition to the multistatic family of specular meteor radars. Previously we have reported about SIMONe Germany, SIMONe Peru and SIMONe Argentina.  Besides the low-latitude planetary-scale MLT dynamics and the connection of MLT neutral dynamics with the equatorial ionosphere, given its multistatic geometry SIMONe Piura will also contribute to the studies of gravity waves and stratified turbulence in South America at different latitudes around the Andes. Figure 2 shows the locations of the other multistatic specular meteor radars in South America.

Figure 2. Multistatic meteor radar installations in South America. For top to bottom: (a) SIMONe Piura (5oS), (b) SIMONe Jicamarca (12oS), (c) CONDOR (30oS), (d) SIMONe Argentina (49oS), (e) MMARIA-SAAMER (54oS)

Figure 3.. Summary plot of SIMONE Piura initial MLT winds. Note that the notorious oscillations in the winds are dominated by waves with 24 hour periods (courtesy of Mathias Clahsen).

The installation, led by Dr. Rodolfo Rodriguez from Universidad de Piura (UDEP), was performed by Christian Mauricio,  Pool Nolasco and Jefferson Llacsahuanga from UDEP; and Rommel Yaya, Americo Coronado and Jose Suclupe from Jicamarca Radio Observatory (JRO).  Online support was provided by Karim Kuyeng from JRO, and Nico Pfeffer and Matthias Clahsen from the Leibniz Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP). Below we show some pictures of the installations.

Figure 4. Transmitter installation at Universidad de Piura.

Figure 5. Receiving antennas at: (a) Colan, (b) San Carlos, (c) Sajino, (d) Piedritas, (e) Chulucanas, (f) Potrerillo.

The selected sites are located at interesting places in the Piura region.  For example, the transmitter array is located at UDEP's campus (see Figure 4), where wild life can be freely moving. The receiver sites (see Figure 5) are at:

  • Colan is a beach resort where there is a Church dating back to 1536;
  • San Carlos is in rich agriculture area of the low basin of Piura river where the ancient pre-inca Tallan culture was settled,
  • Sajino is in the basin of Chipillico river another rich agriculture area close to the Andes.
  •  Piedritas is in Talara province a well know area of Petroleum production and beautiful beaches.
  •  Chulucanas is a placed well-known for its ceramic of ancient practice.
  • Potrerillo antenna  is solar-powered and its surrounded by Brahma-Cebu cattle near to in the Sechura desert area.


The installation has benefit from the kindly support from our local hosts: Luis Urteaga (Colan), Jose Garcia (Chulucanas), Baldemar Ocampos (Sajino), Sergio Chinga (Piedritas), Luis Chunga (San Carlos), and Emilio Hilbck, Rolando Montalve and Pedro Litano (Potrerillo) (see Figure 6).

Figure 6. UDEP and JRO personnel as well as collaborators at selected sites.

SIMONe Piura is an international effort led by IAP (Germany) in collaboration with the Universidad de Piura (Peru), the Jicamarca Radio Observatory- Instituto Geofísico del Perú (Peru), the Arctic University of Norway and the Haystack Observatory at MIT (USA). 


Well done Rodolfo et al.!