Sunday 13 April 2014

Impacts of space weather

Space weather is an important issue and many nations are now realising the implications of forecasting, assessing risk and monitoring for space weather events.

The Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) in the United Kingdom last year published a good overview of the British view entitled "Space weather: impacts on engineered systems, infrastructure and society".

The University of Birmingham (UK) works closely with the RAEng and has announced a fully Funded PhD place available in the Space Environment and Radio Frequency (RF) Engineering Group. The UK placement project is as follows:

Comprehensive, global and timely specifications of the earth's ionosphere are required to ensure the effective operation, planning and management of many radio frequency systems. Many techniques have been developed to measure ionospheric refractivity; these include ground and space - based ionosondes and the use of Global Positioning System (GPS) measurements made with both ground and space - based receivers.
Ionospheric data assimilation systems are currently under development that will combine disparate ionospheric measurements with an ionospheric model. The problem is mathematically under - determined since the amount of information that can be extracted from most ionospheric measurements is low compared to the required resolution of the electron density field under investigation. Therefore it is necessary to utilise a priori information about the state of the ionosphere in order to solve the inverse problem. Many inverse techniques have been proposed; however, this project will investigate the application of the local ensemble transform Kalman filter (LETKF) to physical models of the ionosphere/thermosphere system. The LETKF is a method whereby the data assimila tion is performed in local “regions” around each model grid point. Each region is processed independently, naturally leading to parallelisation, and the grids are later assembled into the global analysis. The LETKF has been well - tested and shown to be both computationally efficient and flexible. However, it has not yet been applied to the ionosphere. The intention of this project is to achieve a significant improvement in current ionospheric forecasting.

The project will be conducted within the Space Environment and RF Engineering group at the University of Birmingham. However, it is anticipated that the work will involve collaboration with researchers in Europe and the USA.

One fully - funded studentship (tax - free stipend of £13863* per annum) is available for Home/EU students to begin this inter - disciplinary 3 - year programme in October 2014.
*subject to inflationary variation Applications are open to students that have, or expect to obtain, a 1st class degree (or equivalent EU/overseas degree) in a wide variety of scientific disciplines including mathematics, physics and natural sciences. Due to the nature of the project, the applicant must be able to demonstrate a high level of mathematical ability.
If you are interested in this UK-based PhD position at the University of Birmingham, then informal enquiries should be made to .

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