The Space Physics Group conducts research in the following areas:
- ionospheric physics including the study of high latitude global plasma convection
- space-weather and ionospheric data products of interest to HF communicators and ionospheric researchers
- remote sensing using HF radars such as measurements of sea-state conditions
- the effects of aerosols on the upper atmosphere such as those generated by Australian bushfires.
Dr Andrew McDonald
The TIGER HF Radar Group
This research involves the use of high powered HF radars, to probe the upper reaches of the earth's atmosphere. We are particularly interested in the ionosphere, a partially ionised layer of the atmosphere at around 100 km to 500 km in altitude.
The ionosphere acts like a window into space. Electric and magnetic fields originating in the near-earth environment and in the sun, drive the ionosphere around the globe by electrodynamic processes, in contrast to the thermodynamic processes which drive the lower atmosphere. The earth's ionosphere is extremely dynamic, circulating at speeds of around 5000 km per hour.
We hope to better understand the movement of the upper atmosphere, and also the response of the ionosphere to violent events on the sun such as solar flares.
This research is critical to satellite operations in close earth orbits, GPS navigation, long distance radio communications and also in understanding auroras, the light-shows seen in the polar regions.
For more information, see the TIGER HF Radar website.
Atmospheric Physics Group
We conduct research into the dynamics and variability of ozone and aerosols in the stratosphere. In particular we focus on the UTLS region (upper troposphere and lower stratosphere) and its relation to climate change.
Recently we used satellite data from OSIRIS, onboard the Odin satellite, and from MLS, onboard the Aura satellite, to analyse the atmospheric ozone response to bushfire smoke aerosols from the Black Saturday bushfires. This pushed aerosols high into the stratosphere which has important consequences for climate change and the ability for climate models to accurately represent changes within the atmosphere.
This research contributes to our knowledge of transport mechanisms for ozone in the UTLS region which is vital in predicting surface UV radiation and for understanding long term changes in climate. Extreme events such as the Black Saturday bushfires can affect a larger part of the atmosphere than has been previously realised, affecting our climate both in Australia and globally.