Department of Physics
My basic research interest is to understand how tropospheric weather impacts the variability or "space weather" of Earth's upper atmosphere and ionosphere. This region where atmosphere-ionosphere-magnetosphere interactions occur extends from roughly the top of the stratosphere (about 50 km above ground) to several hundred kilometers, where the presence of the neutral atmosphere ceases to exert any significant control. Notably, this region serves as the major link in the transfer of energy from the Sun into Earth's environment, including driving by solar radiation, charged particles, fields that permeate the magnetosphere, and solar driven waves propagating upward from the lower atmosphere. The advent of new satellite missions within the past decade unequivocally revealed that Earth's upper atmosphere and ionosphere owes much of its spatial and temporal variability to meteorological processes in the troposphere. This surprising discovery, conditions in near-Earth space are linked strongly to terrestrial weather and climate below, contradicting previous textbook knowledge that space weather was more or less driven by energy injections at high latitudes connected with magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling, and solar radiation variability at extreme ultraviolet wavelengths. The primary mechanism through which energy and momentum are transferred from the lower atmosphere is through the generation and propagation of atmospheric waves, including electrodynamic coupling through dynamo processes.
I will overview this research frontier from a satellite perspective and emphasize a particular class of atmospheric waves, the so-called atmospheric tides. Current and future challenges in the light of forthcoming new NASA satellite missions will also be discussed.