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Quantifying space weather turbulence and extremes and risk at earth

   Department of Physics

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  Prof S C Chapman  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Supervisor S. C. Chapman [Email Address Removed]

Centre for Fusion, Space and Astrophysics

Research at the Centre for Fusion, Space and Astrophysics (CFSA) focuses on plasma physics applied

to the grand challenges of fusion power, space physics, solar physics, and astrophysics. Our work

spans fundamental theory, observation, and the analysis of experimental data, combined with high

performance computing. For more details of the CFSA see

The near-earth space plasma environment, its magnetosphere and ionosphere, exhibit a rich range

of non-linear phenomena, from turbulence to large-scale reorganization, leading to geomagnetic

substorms with system-scale phenomenology such as the aurora. Direct driving by solar activity,

such as coronal mass ejections, precipitates geomagnetic storms, but the magnetosphere responds

to solar driving in a complex manner. This space weather, and its impacts on power grids,

communications and satellite performance, is thus challenging to quantify.

Turbulent fluctuations are ubiquitous in space plasmas, from the high Reynolds number solar wind,

to shear-driven ionospheric flows. There is now a rich set of data available for their study. Singlepoint observations in-situ in the solar wind and at earth span multiple solar cycles, and multipoint

observations of ground level magnetic disturbances, and fluctuations in ionospheric plasma density,

are available from an extensive system of 100+ ground based magnetometers, and by using the

ground signals from the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). This project will use these data

both to advance our fundamental understanding of turbulence, and to quantify the pattern and

likelihood of extreme fluctuations which in the ionosphere can impact on communications and GNSS

timing and positioning. It will require combining nonlinear plasma physics with a careful

understanding of the varied nature of the observations and their uncertainties.

The project is part of an ongoing collaboration with lead experimenter sites NASA-JPL and JHU/APL,

and will require visits to the USA.

We plan to interview in person at Warwick University in late February. We welcome informal

enquiries and can discuss online before then. 

For further information and details of how to apply, please see our postgraduate admissions website: Postgraduate - Department of Physics (

Funding Notes

Fully funded PhD studentship (42 months)

How good is research at University of Warwick in Physics?

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