School of Physical and Chemical Sciences Seminar Series

And then the Sun went "Bang": An overview of Space Weather research


Prof. Craig J. Rodger


Physics Head of Department, University of Otago, Dunedin, NZ

Time & Place

Fri, 15 Sep 2017 11:00:00 NZST in Rutherford Room 531

All are welcome


‌The Sun is the main provider of energy for the Earth; without it we would surely die. However, the Sun is not just a huge light bulb sending heat and light to us - it is a gigantic fiery ball of burning gas on which the largest explosions in our solar system take place. The highly dynamic Sun affects the Earth in multiple ways. We are only just starting to understand how the Sun drives "Space Weather" - changes in the environment on and around the Earth which affect our technological systems. In my colloquia I will give an overview of this research field, and provide some specific examples around hazards to Earth-orbiting satellites and electrical transmission physics, solar



My primary focus is in Space Weather. Currently, my main research question focuses on quantifying the level and significance of electron precipitation out of the Van Allen radiation belts into the Earth's atmosphere. I have led the development of modelling tools such that we can understand experimental measurements in terms of the magnitude of the changing precipitation flux levels. I have also gained expertise in working with and understanding satellite measurements of the electrons trapped in the Van Allen belts. Working with my close collaborators from the British Antarctic Survey, we have ~15 radio receivers in the Arctic and Antarctic which we use to undertake long range remote sensing of the Earth's upper atmosphere; and hence detect particle precipitation. We collaborate with other groups, to determine the significance of this precipitation to the chemistry of the atmosphere. While my work is primarily "basic" Space Physics, our work has shown that it links to the wider understanding of the Earth's climate, and hence improving modelling of the climate in a CO2 dominated future.