Space and Atmospheric Physics

Martin Archer
Martin spent 8 weeks on a summer UROP placement with Dr Tim Horbury, working with data from the Cluster space mission. During this time, Martin implemented a new technique which made it possible to measure the full size and shape of waves in the solar wind upstream of the Earth for the first time. Martin wrote up the work and his paper was published in a refereed journal. Article citation: Archer, M., T. S. Horbury, E. A. Lucek, C. Mazelle, A. Balogh, and I. Dandouras (2005), Size and shape of ULF waves in the terrestrial foreshock, J. Geophys. Res., 110, A05208, doi:10.1029/2004JA010791. 

Martin is now a DJ with radio station Kiss.

Simon Kernthaler
Based on Simon's MSci project, the paper, "Some doubts concerning a link between cosmic ray fluxes and global cloudiness", published in Geophysical Research Letters [1999], showed that previous claims by other authors that increases in cosmic ray activity were associated with enhanced cloud cover were likely to be unfounded.

Rebecca Day 
"The Response of Tropospheric Circulation to Perturbations in Lower-Stratospheric" published in the Journal of Climate, is concerned with how solar variability influences climate.  Rebecca carried out most of the data analysis which shows that the jet streams are positioned slightly further towards the poles when the Sun is more active.

Benjamin Charnay
Benjamin did a summer UROP project with Dr. Marina Galand, modeling the deposition of solar photons in the upper atmosphere of Saturn. He presented his work at the "Saturn after Cassini-Huygens" international conference at the end of his placement. His contribution was included in a recent paper published in J. Geophys. Res. presenting the first detailed calculation of energy deposition of solar photoelectrons applied to Saturn using realistic solar and atmospheric conditions.

Galand, M., L. Moore, B. Charnay, I. Mueller-Wodarg, and M. Mendillo (2009), Solar primary and secondary ionization at Saturn, J. Geophys. Res., 114, A06313, doi:10.1029/2008JA013981.

Victor See and Richard Cameron
Victor and Richard continued work on their MSci project with Prof Steve Schwartz on the dynamics of electrons traversing idealised profiles of electric and magnetic fields at a collisionless plasma shock.  The impact of the supersonic solar wind emanating from the Sun with the outer reaches of the Earth’s magnetic field produces such a shock. These shocks show narrow electric spikes and steep magnetic gradients that were believed to play a role in the way the shock converts the indicent energy into hear. Victor and Richard showed that in addition to the steepness of the gradients, the position of the spikes plays a critical role in breaking the textbook-style smoothly-varying electron trajectories, and results in a highly inflated dispersal of electron velocities, that is a much higher heating rate. The work was published in Annales Geophysicae. Richard stayed at Imperial to undertake a PhD in the Plasma Group, while Victor is doing a PhD in on stellar winds, magnetic fields and exoplanets at St Andrews.

V. See, R. F. Cameron, S. J. Schwartz. Non-adiabatic electron behaviour due to short scale electric field structures at collisionless shockwaves (2013) Annales Geophysicae, 31, 639-646, doi:10.5194/angeo-31-639-2013.

Ann Winning
Ann spent 6 weeks on a summer project using a computer model of the atmosphere to study how changes in the solar spectrum affect stratospheric ozone and climate. She identified some unexpected impacts and her work was included in a paper published in Nature.

 Haigh, J.D., A.R. Winning, R. Toumi and J.W. Harder 2010  An influence of solar spectral variations on radiative forcing of climate.  Nature, 467, 696-699. doi:10.1038/nature09426.

Jose Videira
Jose spent 6 weeks on a summer UROP placement with Dr Jonathan Eastwood, analysing magnetic field and plasma data from the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft. Understanding the escape of the Martian ionosphere into the solar wind is crucial to deciphering its historical atmospheric properties and composition, including water. Continual ionospheric loss is accompanied by bulk removal and transport in structures known as magnetic flux ropes. Jose surveyed MGS data for examples of magnetic flux ropes and studied their properties. The work was subsequently published in Geophysical Research Letters.

Eastwood, J. P., J. J. H. Videira, D. A. Brain, and J. S. Halekas (2012), A chain of magnetic flux ropes in the magnetotail of Mars, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L03104, doi:10.1029/2011GL050444.

Peter Sherman
During his second year UROP placement Peter worked with Dr Erik van Sebille analysing the most efficient place to clean up the plastic in the ocean. In twelve weeks, he wrote an entire paper that has been published in Environmental Research letters (, with the journal also commissioning a perspective piece to highlight it (

It has received wide media coverage, including in the Guardian (, Conservation Magazine (, Discovery Channel ( It was also adapted into a version for teens (