Space Weather And Atmosphere Internship 2024

Type: Intern
Region: Eastern

The thermosphere, a region of our atmosphere extending from approximately 90 km to between 500-1000 km, is known to be contracting because of climate change. If the greenhouse gas concentrations are doubled, as predicted by the end of the 21st century, the thermospheric density could decrease by up to 50%. The density of this region is an important parameter for satellites in the low Earth orbits as it is proportional to the amount of drag they experience. Changes in satellite drag affect their orbits and hence needs to be accurately predicted and accounted for to mitigate possible collisions with other satellites, especially in a region where space debris are rapidly increasing. Along with neutrals, the upper atmosphere also contains plasma species, which are mainly formed by ionisation of neutrals by high energy X-rays and UV rays from the Sun. This ionised region of our upper atmosphere is known as the ionosphere.  

The variability of this coupled region is significantly influenced by both neutral and electrodynamic processes. There are three main layers of the ionosphere: the D-region (between approx. 60-90 km), the E-region (between approx. 90-150 km) and the F-region (150-500 km). The intensity of radiation emitted (and magnetic activity) from the Sun vary on an 11-year cycle, known as the solar cycle. This is a major source of variability in the ionosphere, along with factors such as the time of day, season, lower atmospheric forcings, and climate effects. The peak height of the electron density in the F-region has been shown to be decreasing because of thermal contraction caused by greenhouse gases. 

Purpose

We are looking for an intern to come and work at BAS this summer to investigate if the E-region peak of our ionosphere has responded to climate change over the last 20 years? This will be done under the supervision of Dr Jade Reidy and Dr Subir Mandal within the Space Weather and Atmosphere team. This project will utilize data from an incoherent scatter radar located in northern Norway, being the first to investigate the long-term variability of the E-region peak electron density using such measurements. This work has the potential to yield results that could be developed into a scientific paper which would be of significant interest to both the space weather and atmospheric-climate communities. The intern will have regular meetings with Dr Jade Reidy and Dr Subir Mandal. We encourage the intern to work in-person at BAS to foster greater interaction on the project. Additionally, working on-site provides a fantastic opportunity to meet other colleagues and learn about the diverse fields of polar research conducted at BAS. 

Desired skills

  • Undergraduate degree in physics, mathematics, computer science, or a related discipline.
  • Proficiency in coding with high-level compiled languages, such as Python or MATLAB.
  • Fluency in both written and spoken English.
  • Ability to collaborate effectively within a team and follow directions.
  • Keen interest in the effects of space weather on Earth’s climate.
Job Overview
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