Variations in solar radiation and solar wind result in variations in the coupled magnetosphere-ionosphere-thermosphere (MIT) system which are referred to as space weather. Changes to this system have several important effects on space and ground based technology; including effects on satellite electronics, satellite orbits, radio signal propagation, and electricity grids. The ability to forecast the effects of space weather events on the MIT system is therefore of great importance to human society.

Different physical processes occur in the various elements of the MIT system, which are described by different numerical models. The global magnetosphere plasma is mostly well described by magnetohydrodynamic models. However, alternative approaches, such as particle in cell methods, are required to model magnetic reconnection processes. Models of the ring current in the inner magnetosphere must include kinetic effects. The ionosphere-thermosphere component may be considered by a global circulation fluid model.

This project involves the development and implementation of an accurate, robust and computationally efficient numerical model of the MIT system. This requires the coupling of models describing the various elements of the system. The project would best suit a student with a strong background in computational physics or computational fluid dynamics. Prior knowledge of atmospheric and or plasma physics is also highly desirable.


Dr George Bowden

Dr Melrose Brown


Dr George Bowden


School of Engineering & IT

Research Area

Space Situational Awareness


Lecturer and Space Program Coordinator Melrose Brown
Lecturer and Space Program Coordinator