BAS Space Weather and Atmosphere

Lead Research Organisation: NERC British Antarctic Survey

Abstract

Large explosions on the Sun known as coronal mass ejections can spew out billions of tons of charged particles and magnetic field into space. When these disturbances reach the Earth they can trigger geomagnetic storms and increase particle radiation levels, causing disruption to power grids, satellites, aviation, and a host of other dependent businesses. These effects are known as Space Weather. Solar variations are also linked to changes in the atmosphere and surface temperature in the Polar Regions but how this occurs and how it affects weather and climate are open questions. The goal of the Space Weather and Atmosphere team is to understand how solar variations affect the Earth's space radiation environment, upper atmosphere and climate in the Polar Regions. Our research provides the information needed by the Space Industry, UK Insurance and Government to mitigate the effects of severe Space Weather, and to assess the solar contribution to climate change in the Polar Regions.

Publications

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Beharrell M (2015) Substorm-induced energetic electron precipitation: Morphology and prediction in Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics

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Chen L (2017) Source of the lowaltitude hiss in the ionosphere in Geophysical Research Letters

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Chisham G (2017) A new methodology for the development of highlatitude ionospheric climatologies and empirical models in Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics

 
Description Our research has found that during space weather events the radiation environment at geostationary orbit is seven times higher than that calculated previously, with important implications for the satellite industry. These results have been published [Meredith et al., Space Weather, 2015] and used directly to update the UK National Risk Register of Civil Contingencies. The Risk Register is kept by the Cabinet Office. The work has also been used by satellite operator SES in Luxembourg and Atrium Space Insurance, London.

Boeing have introduced a revolutionary new method of launching satellites using electric propulsion instead of chemical propulsion. As a result it takes 200 days or more to reach geostationary orbit instead of 10 days. We have shown that the additional radiation dose accumulated by the satellite using this method is equivalent to 6.7 years of operation at geostationary orbit [Horne and Pitchford, 2015].
2015].

The research team have released new web site to forecast particle radiation during space weather events. The forecasts are designed to help protect satellites from the risk of radiation damage.

Calculations of particle precipitation into the atmosphere were applied to a whole-atmosphere coupled-climate model and showed substantial impacts on atmospheric chemistry at 70-80km. The results suggest that substorms should be included in high-top chemistry-climate models in order to fully understand space weather coupling into the climate system [Seppala et al., Geophysical Research Letters, 2015].

More than 30 years of the radiation environment affecting satellites has been reconstructed using the BAS radiation belt model. The results are now being used to assess the risk to satellites by the University of Surrey. This work was submitted to the EU as part of the SPACESTORM funded project [Glauert et al., 2015].

Thunderstorms maintain a potential difference between the ionosphere and the ground and result in electrical currents that flow through the atmosphere down to the ground. New results show that the evidence for changes in the electrical current affecting the atmosphere, such as charging of aerosol particles and droplets in clouds, are stronger than ever. Since these currents can also be affected by the solar wind it is suggested there could be important longer term associations between the variations in the Sun on an eleven year timescale and the atmosphere [Lam and Tinsley, JASTP, 2015].

during 2016 we have made substantial progress in a number of areas, with more than 21 peer reviewed Journal papers. It is not possible to cover all the different areas here. The papers are listed elsewhere and are available to the public via Green open access.
Exploitation Route Satellite designers and operators and insurers are using the results to assess radiation protection for satellites.

The government has used the results to update the National Risk Register.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Education,Environment,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Government, Democracy and Justice,Other

URL http://www.spaceweather.ac.uk/
 
Description Our research has found that during space weather events the radiation environment at geostationary orbit is seven times higher than that calculated previously. These results have been published, and have been referenced and used directly to update the UK National Risk Register of Civil Contingencies for severe space weather, January 2016. The Risk Register is kept by the Cabinet Office. The work has also been used by satellite operator SES in Luxembourg and Atrium Space Insurance, London. We have disseminated results at a user lunch of 30 people in 2015 in Belgium consisting of satellite designers, satellite operators, space insurnace and ESA and NOAA agency staff. The research team have released new web site to forecast particle radiation during space weather events. The forecasts are designed to help protect satellites from the risk of radiation damage.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Education,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Input to UK Risk Assessment for Space Weather
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact Provided advice on the risk to satellites due to severe space weather. This is being used to update and suport the UK risk register. The impact is to help the Government plan and prepare for an extreme space weahter event, and develop better mitigation strategies.
 
Title BAS Radiation Belt Model 
Description The BAS radiation belt model is designed to simulate the variability of the Earth's radiation belt. It is a 3d model and is the equivalent to a global circulation model in atmopsheric physics - but applied to space. It is used as a basic research tool to understand the physical processes governing the acceleration, transport and loss of electrons in the radiation belts. It has also been applied to Jupiter and Saturn. There is a verion of the code that is used to predict the radiation belts for space weather applications. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The model has been used to show how plasma waves play a major role in the formation of the Earth's radiation belts. 
URL https://www.bas.ac.uk/science/research-models/bas-radiation-belt-model-bas-rbm/
 
Title HOTRAY 
Description HOTRAY is a computer program that can trace the path of any type of wave through a hot magnetised plasma. It has been used successfully in the Earth's ionosphere, magnetosphere, Jupiter, Saturn, the solar wind and in lab plasmas, 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact There are over 100 peer-reviewed research publications using HOTRAY, including collaborations with USA, Japan, and Europe. 
URL https://www.bas.ac.uk/science/research-models/hotray-ray-tracing-model/
 
Title PADIE code 
Description The PADIE code is designed to compute the pitch angle and energy diffusion co-efficients due to the interaction between plasma waves and high energy charged particles in space - in particualr the radiation belts of Earth, Jupiter and Saturn. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact It has been used in many peer reviewed research papers to show how different types of plasma waves can cause acceleration and loss of high energy electrons and protons in space. 
URL https://www.bas.ac.uk/science/research-models/padie-pitch-angle-diffusion-of-ions-and-electrons/
 
Description AARDDVARK 
Organisation University of Otago
Department Department of Physics
Country New Zealand 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Energetic electron precipitation information from narrow-band VLF signal observations , analysis and interpretation.
Collaborator Contribution Energetic electron precipitation information from narrow-band VLF signal observations , analysis and interpretation.
Impact Scientific papers
 
Description BARREL 
Organisation Dartmouth College
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Halley provided a platform for the NASA BARREL team to launch high altitude balloons in Jan 2013 and Jan 2014. BAS (through myself) provided supporting data from our instruments at Halley and the AFI/11/22 project.
Collaborator Contribution The BARREL x-ray observations have provided insight into radiation belt processes which combine well with the data collected during the AFI/11/22 project.
Impact See papers in previous section
Start Year 2011
 
Description Collaboration with MIT Haystack Observatory 
Organisation Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The PI visited MIT Haystack Observatory, USA in August 2017 to discuss the NERC STO3RM project with Professor Alan Rogers, the original developer of low-cost mesospheric ozone spectrometers based on commercial satellite TV receiver technologies. He shared information on the simulation study results and details of the supplier of 13.44 GHz receivers that can potentially be used to make remote sensing measurements of hydroxyl (OH) in the middle atmosphere. The PI also gave a general talk at the Observatory.
Collaborator Contribution Professor Alan Rogers provided technical advice on the practical construction and operation of satellite-TV based ozone spectrometers. He shared the computer code used to process observational data from such instruments into atmospheric data.
Impact Procurement of 13.44 GHz receiver to investigate potential hydroxyl (OH) observations by MIT Haystack Observatory, using information provided by PI.
Start Year 2017
 
Description High Latitude Aurora 
Organisation University of Southampton
Department Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Co-supervision of a PhD student, working on auroras high in the polar cap
Collaborator Contribution Co-supervision of a PhD student, working on auroras high in the polar cap
Impact A paper has been published in JGR-Space
Start Year 2015
 
Description MICA - South 
Organisation University of New Hampshire
Department Department of Physics
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Operation and provision of data from a seach coil magnetometer at Halley and Rothera in the Antarctic to the international network.
Collaborator Contribution Provision of data from the wider network of search coil magnetometers in the Antarctic.
Impact Numerous research papers listed elsewhere.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Plasma wave data analysis 
Organisation University of Iowa
Department Department of Physics and Astronomy
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Provision of the HOTRAY code, extertese on plasma waves
Collaborator Contribution Analysis of plasma wave data from the Van Allen Probes mission, wave normal angle distribution, ray tracing of plasma waves
Impact Research papers listed separately.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Ray tracing 
Organisation University of Texas at Dallas
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Provision of the HOTRAY ray tracing code, scientific expertese
Collaborator Contribution Research on the origin and propagation of low frequency plasma waves known as plasmaspheric hiss
Impact several research papers
Start Year 2009
 
Description Shock acceleration 
Organisation Imperial College London
Department Space and Atmospheric Physics Group
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Discussion and expertese on the radiation belts
Collaborator Contribution Computer simulations of particle motion in the Earth's radiation belts in response to rapid compression of the Earth's magnetic field by coronal mass ejections emitted by the Sun
Impact Too early in the project.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Solar wind coupling 
Organisation University of Sheffield
Department Automatic Control and Systems Engineering
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Provision of satellite data
Collaborator Contribution Data analysis and machine learning which relates variations in the solar wind outside the Earth's magnetic field to the location and amplitude of plasma waves inside the Earth's radiation belts
Impact Research papers under Rad-Sat listed under the University of Sheffield submission.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Space Insurance 
Organisation Atrium Space Insurance Consortium
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Analysis of particular space weather events of interest to space insurance, looking at the causes of the event and the space radiation environment
Collaborator Contribution Indication of particular space weather events where satellites may have suffered an outage or a malfunction
Impact Member of the Rad-Sat Stakeholder team. Joint meetings to discuss the risks faced by the space insurance industry.
Start Year 2011
 
Description SuperDARN 
Organisation University of Leicester
Department Department of Physics & Astronomy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Co-ordination and provision of data from all the 33 SuperDARN radars world-wide. Running the BAS SuperDARN radar in the Antarctic
Collaborator Contribution Leadership of the SuperDARN network of radars
Impact Numerous research publications listed elsewhere in the system.
 
Description SuperMAG 
Organisation Johns Hopkins University
Department Applied Physics Laboratory (APL)
Country United States 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Operation and provision of data from a network of low power magnetometers in the Antarctic to the international network
Collaborator Contribution Leadership and provision of data from a world-wide network of magnetometers
Impact Numerous research papers listed elsewhere.
Start Year 2012
 
Description BBC Horizon Documentary 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interview with Professor Richard Horne on space weather from Halley, Antarctica, included in BBC Horizon pregramme " Ice Station Antarctica" on broadcast on BBC2 on 4 May 2016. and again on BBC4.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b079s24p/horizon-20152016-8-ice-station-antarctica
 
Description Interview for BBC on space weather 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact TV interview on space weather broadcast on BBC Weather channel, more than 10 times over the Christmas and New year period of 2017/18. Reached over 500,000 people.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05rrm08
 
Description Interview for National News 
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 Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interview with BBC Scienfe correspondent Jonathan Amos.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-40654921
 
Description Interview with Polygon, an American video gaming website, on the use of VLF recordings from Halley in the space simulation game Elite Dangerous 
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 Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interview with Polygon, an American online video gaming website, about the use of VLF recordings from Halley, Antarctica in the space simulation game Elite dangerous. This resulted in a news story entitled "Elite's new exploration system brings even more real-life science into the game - Billions of new audio channels courtesy of a British research team in Antarctica"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.polygon.com/2018/12/4/18125779/elite-dangerous-chapter-4-beyond-exploration-audio
 
Description News Article on the Sounds of Space 
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 Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I was interviewed by Maddie Stone of the Earther, an online environmental news website, about our sounds of space project at BAS. This resulted in an article in the Earther entitled "Listen to the creepy noises picked up by a space weather station in Antarctica". This article has had over 64,900 views. The article included links to vlf recordings from Halley Antarctica, the most popular of which has received over 50,000 hits.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://gizmodo.com/listen-to-the-creepy-noises-picked-up-at-a-space-weathe-1831234519
 
Description Sounds of Space at Cambridge Science Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This activity took place at Anglia Ruskin University as part of the Cambridge Science Festival. It included included a scientific presentation on the sounds of space, followed by a performance with animation, contemporary dance and soundscapes, and finished with a question and answer session.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.bas.ac.uk/event/cambridge-science-festival-sounds-of-space/
 
Description Sounds of Space at the British Antarctic Survey 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This activity took place at the British Antarctic Survey. It included included a scientific presentation on the sounds of space, followed by a performance with live music, animation, contemporary dance and soundscapes, and finished with a question and answer session. The event was live-streamed and has since had over 11,500 views on the BAS Youtube channel.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.bas.ac.uk/event/sounds-of-space-performance/