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Colloquium | Physics Division

(Almost) Down-to-Earth: The Plasma Physics of Space Weather Forecasting

PHY Colloquium

Abstract: Earth’s upper atmosphere from about 100-1000 km altitude is a naturally occurring laboratory for plasma physics. As a cold, magnetized, partially-ionized plasma the region is also a source of significant space weather”: conditions in the solar-terrestrial environment that can negatively impact our technological systems, from satellite operations to radio communications and navigation systems to power grids. For these reasons, we would like to understand and forecast the upper atmospheric state.

Global climatological models exist, but it is the assimilation of measurements, however sparse, that can enable us to estimate the conditions at a specific time. In this talk, I will present our recent advances in the data assimilation of remotely sensed observations of neutral winds and plasma density for deducing causes of plasma redistribution during significant space weather events.