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PhD Studentship: Observational Studies of the High-Latitude Ionosphere

University of Birmingham - School of Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Birmingham
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: Competitive
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 22nd December 2021
Closes: 31st January 2022

The part of the Earth’s upper atmosphere comprised of a plasma is known as the ionosphere and it is the largest plasma laboratory in the world. It represents the interface between the Earth’s atmosphere and the space environment. The ionosphere presents an ideal environment in which to study signatures of both the atmospheric and space weather processes, and how they influence this coupled system.

The European Incoherent Scatter (EISCAT) radars have been used to deliver world-leading results in this field for several decades and the next generation of such a radar (EISCAT3D) is under construction. EISCAT3D will observe the auroral ionosphere above northern Europe in a level of detail never seen before, answering fundamental research questions which could not be tackled until now.

The purpose of this PhD scholarship is to use the EISCAT radars together with other complementary instrumentation to investigate the origin, morphology and evolution of plasma structures in the auroral ionosphere. The student will initially use the current EISCAT radars and will progress to using EISCAT3D as this system comes online.

This studentship also has a practical application. Large-scale plasma structures can also cause smaller-scale irregularities in the ionosphere. These smaller scale structures can disrupt Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) operations, by causing rapid fluctuations in the GNSS satellites signals. This poses a substantial threat to the integrity, availability and accuracy of GNSS positioning. This can severely impact safety critical and industrial applications.

Observations from the EISCAT radars can also be used to test and validate atmospheric models. The student will be involved in conducting such tests. There will also be the opportunity to collaborate with research teams at an international level.

In addition to their scientific work, the student will be a full and active member of the Space Environment and Radio Engineering (SERENE) research group. They will undertake appropriate professional development tasks to ensure that, upon completion of their PhD, they are well prepared for a career in scientific research in academia or in industry. This project spans physics, engineering, space science and atmospheric physics. Applicants with an excellent academic track record in any of these subjects, or any closely related field, are encouraged to apply.

For information enquiries contact Dr. Alan Wood (a.wood.1@bham.ac.uk).

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