PhD opportunity (3.5 years, fully-funded) at the University of Exeter. Deadline = 10th January 2022

Understanding nonlinear wave-particle interactions in Earth’s radiation belts to improve space weather modelling.

NERC GW4+ DTP PhD studentship for 2022 Entry, PhD in Mathematics. University of Exeter, Exeter, UK.

Lead Supervisor: Dr Oliver Allanson, University of Exeter, Mathematics, Environmental Maths & CGAFD.

Additional Supervisors: Dr Nigel Meredith, British Antarctic Survey, Space Weather & Atmosphere Team

Full information on the project and the application details are here:

About the PhD opportunity

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the NERC Great Western Four+ Doctoral Training Partnership (GW4+ DTP).  The GW4+ DTP consists of the Great Western Four alliance of the University of Bath, University of Bristol, Cardiff University and the University of Exeter plus five Research Organisation partners:  British Antarctic Survey, British Geological Survey, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology,  the Natural History Museum and Plymouth Marine Laboratory.  The partnership aims to provide a broad training in earth and environmental sciences, designed to train tomorrow’s leaders in earth and environmental science. For further details about the programme please see

For eligible successful applicants, the studentships comprises:

  • A stipend for 3.5 years (currently £15,609 p.a. for 2022/23) in line with UK Research and Innovation rates
  • Payment of university tuition fees
  • A research budget of £11,000 for international conference, lab, field and research expenses
  • A training budget of £3,250 for specialist training courses and expenses

About the project

The Earth’s Outer Radiation Belt is a region of near-Earth space containing high-energy charged particles that are trapped by the geomagnetic field. Whilst we know that the radiation belt environment is ultimately driven by the solar wind, it is very challenging to model these particle populations.

The myriad socio-economic risks posed by space weather effects are reflected through its inclusion in the UK Cabinet Office National Risk Register for Civil Emergencies. Accurate modelling and prediction is essential for safeguarding the operational satellites in orbit that underpin modern society – placing a growing reliance on forecasts such as those based on the world-leading model developed at the British Antarctic Survey. This model is now being incorporated into the UK MET Office Space Weather Forecasting Suite – one of 3 space weather prediction centres worldwide. Existing radiation belt modelling and forecasting capabilities rely upon techniques that treat electromagnetic waves determining the electron dynamics as having very small amplitudes. However, recent satellite datasets have demonstrated the prevalence of large amplitude (aka ‘nonlinear’) electromagnetic waves. Understanding the impact of nonlinear waves on space weather modelling is one of the biggest international challenges in radiation belt science today.