Solar energy input from the earth's magnetosphere to its atmosphere

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leicester
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy


The interaction between the Sun's and the Earth's plasma environments is very dynamic and one of societal and commercial importance. A large proportion of the energy from this terawatt system is transferred from the outer magnetosphere inwards by MHD waves, which propagate along magnetic filed lines and into the upper atmosphere (ionosphere), where the energy is dissipated. By undertaking this study, I will be able to gauge the impact of geomagnetic activity on the Earth's environment. "Space Weather" hazards are now part of the Government's National Risk Register since geomagnetic storms are known to affect human activities on the ground and in space. Recently, it has also become apparent that nonlinear effects in the upper atmospheric may also influence tropospheric climate, including energetic particle precipitation (Epp, associated with MHD waves) effects on stratospheric ozone (e.g. Seppala et al., 2009) and changes to the geoelectric circuit The Radio and Space Plasma Physics (RSPP) group at the University of Leicester have unique UK access to a number of important data sets including ground magnetometers (through SuperMag), ionospheric radars (including EISCAT and SuperDARN) and satellites (e.g.the Van Allen Probes, VAPs). This project will exploit these facilities to explore energy deposition in the upper atmosphere via MHD waves. The data collected will provide input to up-to-date models of MHD wave generation and solar forcing of the lower atmosphere.


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