Thursday, 19 September 2013

SGO 100 -- An observatory is formed

This month, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Sodanklyä Geophysical Observatory (SGO). As part of the celebration of this prestigious occasion, we are looking back at the history of the facility and what a tumultuous past it has had. Yesterday we considered the very early days leading up to the formation of the permanent observatory. Today, we continue the story.


On inception, SGO became the first permanent magnetic observatory in the Arctic. It operated successfully despite the outbreak of the First World War. Only during the Finnish War of Indepence in 1918 was there any interruption to the measurements, but even then, only for a few months.

In 1927, auroral phtography was started at the SGO site and the station participated in the Second Polar Year (1932-1933). This was an important time for the observatory with new international collaborations being forged. New measurements were being developed to detect rapid variation of magnetic fields and the so-called earth-currents. In addition, SGO was an important meteorological station as well as a geophysical observatory.

The main building of SGO from 1913-1944.


SGO continued routine observations during the Winter War of 1939-1940 and when the hostilities resumed in 1941. During the Winter/Continuation War, SGO stayed in full operation. However, with the outbreak of the Lapland War (1944-1945), the observatory had to be evacuated and this took place on 15 September 1944. The evacuation was rushed on only the personnel and the most important archives could be saved.

During mid October 1944, the observatory was overrun and destroyed.

At the conclusion of the Lapland War, the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters was quick to return and in mid-1945, the first weather observations resumed with magnetic recordings commencing on New Year's day of 1946. Rebuilding and improvement continued throughout this time, leading up to the Third Polar Year (1957-1958). This event (later renamed as the International Geophysical Year) was a major scientific achievement for the world, and SGO played and important part. In addition to routine observations, it heralded the installation of a new ionospheric sounding station and, at around the same time, the first seismosgraphy measurements commenced at the site.


Reference

Kataja, E., A Short History of the Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory,
Geophysica, 35(1-2),3-13, 1999.

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