|Grade:||Letter grade (A through F)|
|Course Capacity Min/Max:||8/16 students (AGF-345/845 in total)|
|Language of instruction:||English|
|Examination support material:||Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue|
Enrolment in a relevant master programme. Good knowledge of plasma physics and electrodynamics. Students enrolled in a space physics programme will be prioritized.
This research course gives an overview of polar magnetospheric substorms, the primary process responsible for large-scale auroral breakups. A substorm is a transient event where a large amount of energy is deposited in the high-latitude ionosphere. On the ground, this is typically manifested in the form of intense aurora and disturbances in the geomagnetic field. This course provides a historical overview of substorm research and introduces the terminology and models that are used to explain the phenomenon. Key elements in the chain of interactions that constitute a substorm as well as recent developments in the field of research are discussed.
Covered topics include solar wind – magnetosphere coupling, magnetic reconnection, energy accumulation and storage, energy release and introduction to plasma instabilities that are thought to be responsible for the triggering of substorms. Also discussed are the auroral acceleration region, ionospheric effects of substorms and energy budget. The course consists of a combination of lectures, exercises and a project work. Measurements obtained at the Kjell Henriksen Observatory and/or the EISCAT Svalbard radar station form the basis of a written report.
Upon completing the course, the students will:
- be able to describe what a polar magnetospheric substorm is
- know the underlaying physical processes responsible for substorms
- know the fundamental substorm models
- be familiar with the terminology used in discussing polar magnetospheric substorms.
- be able to analyse data from a suite of ground and space instruments and use this data to identify processes
- determine the sequence of events and to be able to estimate the energy budget of a substorm.
- be able to perform an independent investigation of a substorm
- present the result of this investigation in the form of a written report.
The course extends over ca. 5 weeks including compulsory safety training and is run in combination with AGF-845.
Three essential components ensure effective learning:
- Focused lectures given by specialists in their fields.
- Solving exercises related to the lectures. Students prepare and present solutions to these exercises.
- Visit to the Kjell Henriksen Observatory and/or the EISCAT Svalbard radar station where students are introduced to instrumentation used for substorm research.
Based on observations obtained during the course period, the students will have approximately 10 days to investigate a substorm event and prepare a project report or science proposal which will assess the student’s skills in project management, data analysis and science writing.
Note that AGF-345 is a full-day course, with lectures in the morning and discussions / exercise solving in the afternoon. This course should not be combined with other UNIS activities.
- Total lecture hours: Ca. 40 hours.
- Total exercises: Ca. 25 hours.
- Excursion: the Kjell Henriksen Auroral Observatory and/or the EISCAT Svalbard radar; 1–2 days.
Compulsory learning activities
All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the exam.
- All assessments must be passed in order to pass the course.
- Each assessment is graded, and subsequently combined into a single grade. Partial grades for each assessment will be available.
Percentage of final grade
|Oral exam||45 minutes||50%|