About the Project
Understanding Space Weather has considerable urgency for our technology based society: The USA now funds a Space Weather Prediction Centre  (SWPC), and stresses the link between three regions which are traditionally studied independently: The Sun, interplanetary space (the solar wind) and the Earth’s environment (the magnetosphere and ionosphere). During intense Space Weather events power grids can fail causing blackouts, radio communications (including those via satellite) can become disrupted and GPS navigation can become inoperable. In 2014 the UK’s Met Office opened their Space Weather Operations Centre which, like SWPC and other forecast sites, offer predictions for the coming 24 and 48 hour periods.
Magnetospheres are energized by the solar wind, and this can take place through the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability at the magnetopause (observed both at Earth [3,4] and other planets such as Saturn ), or through buffeting by dynamic pressure perturbations in the solar wind . Both these processes excite ’fast’ Magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) waves in the magnetosphere, which can propagate, disperse, and couple to other MHD modes. A detailed understanding of these processes can be used seismologically to understand properties and dynamics of the magnetosphere by comparison with observations. Indeed, recent observations from satellite mission such as Cluster  and THEMIS have provided the motivation for this proposal.
The PhD project will focus on theory and be complemented by simulations. It will suit someone with an Applied Maths/Physics background who enjoys analytical theory and computing.
The Earth’s magnetosphere is distorted by the solar wind and has a complex 3D structure. Recently it has become evident that earlier simplified models cannot capture the complexity of the MHD wave processes in 3D [7,8,9]. Thus there is the opportunity to investigate the fundamental physics of wave coupling processes which will have wide-ranging applications from planetary magnetospheres, to solar coronal magnetic fields, to pulsar magnetospheres.
The type of research undertaken will involve running simulations and analysing the results to identify the essential behaviour of the system. Given such insights from the simulations, we can then construct approximate analytical theory which can be benchmarked against simulations and provide results and concepts which can be exploited by the wider Space Weather community. Examples of the style of research can be found in [7,8,9].
Although the emphasis of the project is theoretical, we maintain strong links with observers of satellite data and groundbased measurements, and these guide our research and keep our results relevant to helping observers better understand their observations.
STFC funding is available for a PhD project on this subject to start immediately, subject to eligibility.
For more details about the group, please visit our website: http://www-solar.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/.
For information about the School and the application procedure in general, please see: https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/maths/prospective/pg/phdprogrammes/.
 Rezania, V., and J. C. Samson, 2005, https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20041796
 Foullon, C., et al., 2008, https://doi.org/10.1029/2008JA013175
 Guo, X. C., C. Wang, and Y. Q. Hu, 2010, https://doi.org/10.1029/2009JA015193
 Masters, A., J. Geophys. Res., 2011, https://doi.org/10.1029/2010JA016421
 Takahashi, K. and A. Y. Ukhorskiy, 2008, https://doi.org/10.1029/2008JA013327
 Wright, A. N., and T. Elsden, 2016, http://dx.doi.org/10.3847/1538-4357/833/2/230
 Elsden, T., and A. N. Wright, 2017, https://doi.org/10.1002/2016JA023811
 Elsden, T., and A. N. Wright, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1009/2018JA026222
Eligible applicants will be considered for UK research council funding (STFC).
Applicants who will graduate from a Scottish university may be eligible to apply for Carnegie/Caledonian Scholarships (for details see https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/study/fees-and-funding/postgraduate/scholarships/carnegie-caledonian/, please note the deadline on 16 Jan 2020!).
Chinese applicants may be eligible for funding by the China Scholarship Council (for details see https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/study/fees-and-funding/postgraduate/scholarships/china-scholarship-council/, deadline 6 Jan 2020!)
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