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No. 78: Nov-Dec 1991

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Radar Interference And Luminescence

March 8/9, 1989. Arabian Sea.
m.v. British Esk

Radar interference noted at sea

"During the night a particularly strong and distinct patch of radar interference was noted by all observing officers. The sketch shows the phenomenon as seen on the 12-n.mile range of the 3-cm radar. The racon type mark varied in length from 1-3 n.miles at a nearest range of 5-10 n.miles. The effect was minimal on the 10-cm radar.

"The bearing of the mark remained fairly constant at about 20 abaft the port beam or about 230. Of particular note was that around 1600 GMT to 1700 GMT (about 2 hours after sunset), when the mark on the radar was very distinct, the satellite communication system suffered a loss in signal strength sufficient to prevent transmission or reception, the bearing of the satellite being almost due south of the vessel. It was thought at the time that the signal mast had become aligned between the aerial and the satellite, but alteration of the ship's head to port or starboard did not cure the low signal strength.


"Of note, although this may have been a coincidence only, was that the vessel was passing through patches of bioluminescence at the time, mostly only bright enough to show up in the breaking waves of the ship's wake, but during the period of low signal strength, the whole area of white, foamy water along the ship's side frequently shone a bright greenish colour."

(St. Lawrence, P.F.; "Radar Interference," Marine Observer, 60:17, 1990.)

Comment. Apparently, some sort of electromagnetic disturbance affected not only the radar but also satellite communications and the bioluminescent organisms in the water. Could it have been one of those plasma vortexes said by some to be responsible for some of those crop circles?

Reference. Other examples of radar phenomena associated with bioluminescence are cataloged in GLW10 and GLW14 in our catalog: Lightning, Auroras. To order, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #78, NOV-DEC 1991. 1991-2000 William R. Corliss