SOFKO, George J.Professor
Department of Physics and Engineering Physics
Telephone: (306) 966-6444
Facsimile: (306) 966-6400
Office: 255 Physics
B.A.Sc. (UBC) 1960
Woodrow Wilson Fellow (1960-63)
Ph.D. (U. of Sask.) 1969
Research and Academic Interests
Dr. Sofko is the leader of the Canadian SuperDARN (Super Dual Auroral Radar Network) team, funded by an NSERC CSP for which he is the Principal Investigator and including collaborators at the Universities of Alberta, Western Ontario and New Brunswick. SuperDARN is an international network of HF radar pairs. Each pair of these Doppler radars is capable of measuring a large-scale map (about 4 million square kilometers in size) of the two-dimensional convection, the electric field and the field-aligned currents (FACs) in the F-region of the ionosphere. These electric fields and FACs are generated in the outer regions of the earth's magnetosphere where the solar wind interacts with the earth's magnetic field, and they are a direct measure of the transfer of energy from the solar wind to the earth. As of March, 1997, the SuperDARN network encompasses 12 radars in total, half each in the northern and southern hemispheres. The SuperDARN project includes direct participation from scientists in Canada, the US, Britain, France, Japan, South Africa, and Austalia, and associates in many other nations.
Dr. Sofko was the Head of the Auroral Processes Team of the Canadian Network for Space Research (CNSR), one of the Networks of Centers of Excellence established by the Government of Canada in 1990. During the 5- year span of the CNSR, a set of sophistocated multiple-beam phased-array radars called SAPPHIRE NORTH and SAPPHIRE SOUTH were built by the University of Saskatchewan team (Dr. J. A. Koehler and Dr. Sofko). The SAPPHIRE SOUTH radar system is still operated on a continuous basis, and provides detailed information about auroral processes occurring over northern Saskatchewan. These processes are a measure of one of the most dynamic events in the earth's magnetosphere, namely the magnetospheric substorm, during which huge amounts of energy (50 GigaWatts) can be dumped into the ionosphere, creating immense fluctuating currents (a million Amperes) whose effects can be felt by the complete disruption of electrical power grids due to burnout of the large transformers and by the damaging of communications satellites such as ANIK.
Dr. Sofko (Principal Investigator), Dr. Koehler and Dr. Art Wacker of Electrical Engineering were leaders in the application of microwave radars to agriculture via a contract with the Canada Center for Remote Sensing during the period 1985-89. During this time, they employed three microwave radars to measure the microwave signature of crops in various stages of development, as part of the RADARSAT program. Measurements by RADARSAT, Canada's remote sensing satellite launched in 1995, can be interpreted to assess the status of Canada's crops relative to those in the rest of the world and to plan the most effective approach to their marketing.
Dr. Sofko came to the U of S for Ph.D. work under a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship awarded in 1960, one of the few WWFs ever awarded to an engineering student. Before completion of his Ph.D. work under the direction of Dr. Alex Kavadas, the founder and first president of SED Systems, Dr. Sofko was hired by the Physics Department as an Instructor in 1963, and has remained on the U of S faculty since that time.