[Cymraeg]

Physics projects for Y3 and Y4 students


Project description

Mapping the Sq current system

(supervisor: Heather McCreadie)

Nature of project: data analysis, theory

Available to students on full-time physics degree schemes or joint students.

Project description and methodology

The solar-quiet (Sq) magnetic field variation is an expression of an ionospheric current system. Heating on the dayside and cooling on the nightside of the atmosphere generates winds that drive plasma against the geomagnetic field, inducing electric fields and currents in the region between 100 and 140 km in height. The current system remains relatively fixed to the Earth-Sun line and produces regular, broad-scale daily variations that are seen directly in magnetograms of geomagnetic quiet days, hence the name Sq. In this project the student is required to identify geomagnetically quiet and geomagnetically disturbed days using the Kp index and ground based magnetometer data. Analyse several days of data to compare results with a model the student makes of the Sq system.

A successful project will develop beyond the above in one/some of the following directions:
A development of a 2-D model of the Sq system in time would enhance the research in this area.

When considering where to take your project, please bear in mind the time available. It is preferable to do fewer things well than to try many and not get conclusive results on any of them. However, sometimes it is useful to have a couple of strands of investigation in parallel to work on in case delays occur.

Additional scope or challenge if taken as a Year-4 project: For the extended project the Year 4 student is expected to expand on the basic project to identify, investigate and interpret signatures of Sq on a global basis over the course of an entire year of data. The final product will be a data driven simulation of the Sq system with an interpretation of the results.

Please speak to Heather McCreadie if you consider doing this project.

Initial literature for students:

  1. Matsushita, S. (1968), Sq and L Current Systems in the Ionosphere. Geophysical Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, 15: 109–125. doi:10.1111/j.1365-246X.1968.tb05751.x
  2. Stening, R. J. (2008) The shape of the Sq current system, Ann. Geophys, 26,1767-1775 www.ann-geophys.net/26/1767/2008/angeo-26-1767-2008.pdf
  3. Basic Space Plasma Physics by Wolfgang Baumjohann, Rudolf A. Treumann
  4. Fathy, I., C. Amory-Mazaudier, A. Fathy, A. M. Mahrous, K. Yumoto, and E. Ghamry (2014), Ionospheric disturbance dynamo associated to a coronal hole: Case study of 5–10 April 2010, J. Geophys. Res. Space Physics, 119, 4120–4133, doi:10.1002/2013JA019510.

Novelty, degree of difficulty and amount of assistance required

The initial ideas for the model are challenging. Students with no mathematical background will model what the data at several stations should look like using sketches. More mathematically inclined students will be able to model the system.

Project milestones and deliverables (including timescale)

milestoneto be completed by
understanding of data given shownend of October
model outlineChristmas
Collecting magnetograms and other data. Software development for display of data.end of February
Comparison of the data with the model. Easter