Application to STFC for Consolidated Grant Support for the Solar Physics and Space Plasma Research Centre (SP2RC) at The University of Sheffield

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Mathematics and Statistics


The Solar Physics and Space Plasma Research Centre (SP2RC) at the University of Sheffield seeks to understand the nature of key plasma processes occurring in the near-solar surface, the atmosphere of the Sun from photosphere to corona, solar wind, magnetosphere and heliosphere with particular attention devoted to the various magnetic coupling mechanisms of these apparently distinct regions. A large part of the energy flux released in the solar atmosphere (either waves or jets) travels into interplanetary space and impacts on the Earth's bow shock, energising the magnetosphere and having impact on our daily human life. The generation of energetic events in the solar atmosphere and their propagation into the solar wind and magnetosphere driving Space Weather will be rigorously investigated by using mathematical and numerical modelling and the analysis of latest available state-of-the-art satellite and ground-based datasets. Particular attention is paid to the wave and jet processes in this complex and very dynamic coupled Sun-Earth system.

Our mathematical approach involves advanced analytical work and the implementation of parallel high-performance computing (GRID and CUDA-enabled technology) where results will be tested and verified by making and using space (Hinode, SDO, IRIS, THEMIS) and ground-based (Swedish Solar Telescope/CRISP and CHROMIS, Dunn Solar Telescope/ROSA and IBIS and the upcoming Daniel K. Innouye Solar Telescope/VBI and VTF) observations. The proposed programme involves six scientific projects: 1) Advanced modelling of MHD waves and instabilities in non-uniform (non)-ideal plasmas; 2) 3D small-scale dynamics in the solar atmosphere; 3) From jets to waves with applications to the solar atmosphere: 3D modelling and analysis of localised impulsive MHD dynamics; 4) Unsolved problems of collisionless shocks ; 5) Dynamics of key wave emissions in the radiation belts; and 6) Waves in partially ionised and ionisation non-equilibrium solar plasmas. The programme also has a vibrant and vital Visiting Researchers Programme.

We request funding to cover salaries of the RAs, appropriate costs for research leadership/management and research time for the Principal Investigator and seven Co-Investigators, funding for a modest but essential Visitor Researcher Programme, for travel & subsistence, computing equipment and consumables, and funding for the associated continuation of our Scientific Officer and Secreterial Support posts.

Planned Impact

SP2RC's members are actively involved in creating and exchanging knowledge by means of their research. The members have different capabilities, skills and experiences - all of which are necessary for the success of the group as a whole and in disseminating its research activities by:
- Publishing results in refereed journals, special issues organised by SP2RC members and presentations at (inter)national meetings and specialised courses at various Summer Schools;
- Delivering scientific seminars, specialised courses at various Summer Schools and universities;
- Developing an on-line resource based on our scientific results;
- Delivering public lectures to promote solar- and space-science related disciplines;
- Creating strong research links by applying for Roy Soc, Leverhulme Trust international programs.

The ideas, methods and results of the members of SP2RC are routinely used by other academics and experts in the area of solar-terrestrial applications as well as other areas. Hence, SP2RC does not only create resources, it also willingly shares it.

Our research also had major societal impact (not just via numerous press-releases and press coverages from e.g. to, American Weather Channel, CNN, BBC, etc) but also in the world of art and music. The dissemination of results is also carried out using "public" platform e.g.


Examples of research-related exhibitions, where SP2RC members participated, managed to attract thousands of members of the public:

SP2RC members are continuously involved in public outreach through printed (national and international newspapers) and non-printed media channels (local, national and international radio stations, e.g.,,

SP2RC has truly international character and important parts of knowledge transfer by SP2RC is also done through the top class training to its PhD students and RAs and collaborating with a large number of eminent international visitors with whom members have links.

Broadly speaking, the methods and techniques relevant to SP2RC research can be applied to some areas of industry, such as fusion reactors, tokamaks, pattern recognition, aviation, medical research etc. Whilst we are not directly working with any companies at present on the commercialisation of this research, it is hoped that, through the dissemination and outreach activities we are carrying out, applications for our knowledge could be found in industry.
The PI/Lead CoIs/CoIs will make sure that the results of their research will be made available openly through the usual channels (for example, visual/written media, public outreach events, publications in refereed journal and conference proceedings, etc.). SP2RC and its individual members will also continue to use their websites as a means to make their knowledge, expertise and results widely accessible.


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Description ESA press release related to the Science Advances paper. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact ESA press release, and a few news sites reported news items related to publication 'Direct evidence of nonstationary collisionless shocks in space plasmas' by Dimmock et al, 2019, Science Advances 27 Feb 2019: Vol. 5, no. 2, eaau9926 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau9926.

Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019