HAMNET Report 3rd July 2022

On Wednesday last, Greg Mossop G0DUB passed on a communique from Carlos Alberto Gonzalez, CO2JC, of IARU Region 2, reporting that Venezuela and Nicaragua were preparing for the second Tropical Cyclone of the season, not yet named, and asking for a range of HF frequencies to be kept clear of casual chatter, while emergency communicators were using them.

The Cyclone was entering the Caribbean Sea that evening, and the island nations were playing safe, rather than sorry.

By Friday, Carlos was reporting that the cyclone had passed close to, but not crossed the coast of Venezuela, and they were relaxing their frequency restrictions.

Carlos said further that Colombia’s network on 7060 KHz was active, that Costa Rica was spared, but that Nicaragua had declared a red, or maximum, alert at their southern border with Costa Rica, and an orange alert for the rest of the country. Costa Rica was to start constant monitoring from Friday the 1st starting at midday their time. Guatemala was also activating a preventative network, with a view to aiding their various neighbours if required.

There has been no further word of the cyclone itself, so, at this stage, it all seems to be proactive, rather than reactive.

On the other side of the globe, Tropical Cyclone CHABA-22 started bearing down on the coast of China on Wednesday, with estimated wind speeds of about 120km/h, threatening 6.17 million people in its path. It was predicted to reach the island of Hainan yesterday the 2nd, strengthening as it progressed, and causing heavy rainfall and strong winds over Southern China, in Guangdong Province.

Reporting from England, Dr Corwin Wright, of the Centre for Space, Atmospheric and Oceanic Science at the University of Bath, says that the January volcanic eruption in Tonga that triggered a tsunami was among the most powerful ever recorded, sending shockwaves around the world and into the edge of space, according to new research. It was as big as notorious Krakatoa in 1883 and sent gravity waves reverberating around the Earth reaching more than 60 miles into the upper atmosphere.

The volcanic eruption was hundreds of times stronger than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War II. It affected radio communications, GPS systems, telescopes, and even weather systems.

“This was a genuinely huge explosion, and truly unique in terms of what has been observed by science to date. We have never seen atmospheric waves going round the whole world before, or at this speed – they were traveling very close to the theoretical limit,” says lead author Dr Wright in the statement. “The eruption was an amazing natural experiment. The data we have been able to gather on it will enhance our understanding of our atmosphere and will help us improve our weather and climate models.”

After a series of smaller events beginning in December, Hunga Tonga blew on January 15, 2022, producing a vertical plume that rose more than 50 km into the sky. Heat released from water and hot ash fuelled gravity waves on Earth for the next 12 hours.

There were only three confirmed deaths, which is a miracle given that whole communities were left under a blanket of volcanic ash and mud from the massive tidal wave that followed. About 84 percent of the total population of the Island nation of Tonga was affected.

As predicted, in the week after the ARRL-sponsored Field Day exercise in the U.S., the online news has been full of report-backs, too many to read and mention. There were upwards of 2400 stations on the air over that weekend, and the ARRL letter of Thursday the 30th June reports that it had already received logs revealing 517000 contacts made in the 24 hour period.

Many amateurs took the time during the exercise, and afterwards to make videos, which they have posted on YouTube, reporting on their successes and failures, and showing off their very swanky radio gear. If you have the time and the inclination, go to YouTube, and type “ARRL Field Day 2022” into the search bar, and you will find many reports to digest and enjoy.

In a separate report in the ARRL News of 30th June, mention is made of a 2 day exercise by radio amateurs, joined by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), local and county law enforcement agencies, and the EmComm Training Organization (ETO) for participation in a functional earthquake exercise in southern California, known as SoCal Shifting 2022.

The goal of the exercise, which took place on June 18th and 19th, was to test the operational capability and readiness of the Winlink Global Radio Email® system using amateur radio frequencies.

Oliver Dully, K6OLI, District Emergency Coordinator of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®) Los Angeles Northeast District, said the exercise came together quickly over 5 days, with the help of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Disaster Communications Service (DCS), the San Diego ARES, and the Ventura County ARES.

Dully said, “Amateur operators routinely hold weekly tests but need to be network-aware and used to the battle rhythm during emergencies to move traffic in [a] more timely manner.”

The exercise scenario included a cluster of earthquakes occurring on June 18 at 10:18 AM Pacific Standard Time, and amateur radio operators were asked to send a series of messages ranging from a “Did You Feel It (DYFI)” report to a Field Station Report (FSR).

Dully said the exercise was a great success, stating: “Participants were only given a short 3 days’ notice, so the great success of the SoCal Shifting 2022 functional exercise again demonstrates the value of regular, mission-focused training and collaboration.”

Dully said the numbers from the final after-action report were outstanding:

The ARES Los Angeles Northeast District tactical call sign received 372 messages from 101 participating stations during this exercise, all via Winlink.

Regrettably, Winlink and its superb features are not sufficiently popular or understood by Emcomm operators in this country. I hope that this lack of use can be remedied in future.

We end with a quickie. The Daily Maverick reported this week that more than 2000 spinoff technologies have resulted from NASA space missions. This ranges from memory foam to cochlear implants, and is good information for the next time that somebody tells you that space exploration is a waste of money!

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.