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SCENARIO DTP - Energetic Electron Precipitation Coupling Near-Earth Space to the Atmosphere

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  • Full or part time
    Dr C Watt
    Dr M Clilverd
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Changes in the Earth’s environment are driven by a complicated web of interconnected processes, often in surprising ways. There is increasing evidence that the coupling between near-Earth space and the atmosphere is stronger than we once thought, to the extent that Space Weather (the name given to the variability of our near-Earth plasma environment) can affect natural climate variability. There is a compelling need to quantify all system factors involved in climate variability so that we may fully understand the role of human-induced changes; this project will focus on links between Space Weather and the upper atmosphere. There are many ways in which Space Weather could couple to the atmosphere and influence climate. One promising mechanism is where solar variations drive electron precipitation into the atmosphere, changing mesospheric ozone chemistry, which in turn affects atmospheric heating and cooling rates [see e.g. Andersson et al., Nature Comms, 2014]. Global climate models are being extended in altitude to incorporate this mechanism, but the missing link is a realistic particle precipitation description. We can detect precipitating energetic particles in space with spacecraft, but these measurements are sparse and can be contaminated by the trapped energetic particle population. We can infer the effects of particle precipitation by monitoring the ionosphere from the ground, but these challenging techniques are far from automated, and we still lack a global picture of the energetic electron precipitation (EEP).

In this project, the student will have the opportunity to investigate energetic electron precipitation into the Earth’s atmosphere using a combination of global ground-based instrumentation, brand new in-situ satellite data, and cutting-edge plasma physics simulation models. The study will focus on the interaction between electromagnetic ion cyclotron (EMIC) waves and energetic electrons in the van Allen Radiation Belt. The aim is to identify (a) which geomagnetic conditions promote EMIC wave precipitation (b) the efficiency of the wave-particle interaction (c) the amount and energy of precipitating electrons during storm events. New knowledge gained during this project will be used in both Space Weather and Climate research communities.

More details are available on the project description at http://www.met.reading.ac.uk/nercdtp/home/available/desc/entry2017/SC201714.pdf

Funding Notes

The project is part of the SCENARIO Doctoral Training Partnership and is potentially fully-funded, subject to selection based on candidate excellence.Funding is available for UK or EU students. Funding is not available for international students. The project has CASE funding.

To apply, please refer to the SCENARIO website at http://www.met.reading.ac.uk/nercdtp/home/available/

How good is research at University of Reading in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 75.68

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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