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Understanding nonlinear wave-particle interactions in Earth's radiation belts to improve space weather modelling. NERC GW4+ DTP PhD studentship for 2022 Entry, PhD in Mathematics

University of Exeter - College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Exeter
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Tuition fees and an annual stipend allowance at Research Council rates, currently £15,609 per year for 2022-23
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 22nd October 2021
Closes: 10th January 2022
Reference: 4253

Project Background:

The Earth's Outer Radiation Belt is a region of near-Earth space containing high-energy charged particles that are trapped by the geomagnetic field. Whilst we know that the radiation belt environment is ultimately driven by the solar wind, it is very challenging to model these particle populations.

The myriad socio-economic risks posed by space weather effects are reflected through its inclusion in the UK Cabinet Office National Risk Register for Civil Emergencies. Accurate modelling and prediction is essential for safeguarding the operational satellites in orbit that underpin modern society - placing a growing reliance on forecasts such as those based on the world-leading model developed at the British Antarctic Survey. This model is now being incorporated into the UK MET Office Space Weather Forecasting Suite - one of 3 space weather prediction centres worldwide. • Existing radiation belt modelling and forecasting capabilities rely upon techniques that treat electromagnetic waves determining the electron dynamics as having very small amplitudes. However, recent satellite datasets have demonstrated the prevalence of large amplitude (aka ‘nonlinear’) electromagnetic waves. Understanding the impact of nonlinear waves on space weather modelling is one of the biggest international challenges in radiation belt science today. 

Project Aims and Methods:

In this PhD you will work towards making internationally significant discoveries about the importance of nonlinear waves in radiation belt and space weather modelling – to ultimately improve forecasting. Once you become comfortable with the underlying science and general direction, you will be invited to help guide the project towards a particular aspect that most interests you. This could be using one or more of theoretical, numerical or observational approaches – depending on your inclinations and the questions that we identify together.

You will have the opportunity to lead on a project that will make an important contribution to an internationally significant scientific problem with real-world application.  You will work and collaborate within a strong UK-based network of world-leading experts in Space Weather and Space-science. The ultimate aim of this PhD is to support you to become an independent researcher, and a valued colleague in whatever future role you choose.  

Candidate Requirements:

A background in physics, applied mathematics or closely-related mathematics/physics science. Prior knowledge of space/plasma physics or computer programming are not necessary. 

Project Partners:

Dr Oliver Allanson (OA) is leading a NERC research programme (2021-‘26) to understand the importance of nonlinear physics in radiation belt modelling. Dr Nigel Meredith (NM) is a world-leading authority on the analysis of particle and electromagnetic wave data from spacecraft. We have collaborations and partnerships with scientists at numerous universities and research institutes around the world, and will be delighted to invite the candidate into these networks and discussions.

Training:

In addition to regular one-to-one meetings with supervisors, you will be encouraged to participate in wider group- and network- activities to build up your academic profile and collaborate with colleagues. You can attend seminars from national and international experts in the field, and benefit from national and international conferences and summer schools that develop both discipline-specific and transferable skills (e.g. AGU Fall meeting and International School/Symposium for Space Simulations) • The GW4+ DTP provides many further training and skills development opportunities, https://www.nercgw4plus.ac.uk/

Prospective applicants: For information about the application process please contact the Admissions team via pgrenquiries@exeter.ac.uk.  

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