Mathew Owens: Research Interests

The heliospheric magnetic field

My major research interest is the solar cycle evolution of the heliospheric magnetic field. In particular, how open solar magnetic flux is generated and destroyed. Some questions I'm currently trying to address, through a combination of remote and in situ observations, coupled with analytical and numerical modelling:
  • What is the role of coronal mass ejections in the generation of new open solar flux?
  • Where on the Sun is open solar flux destroyed and what controls the rate at which this process proceeds?.
  • How is the source of the slow solar related to open solar flux evolution?

Solar wind forecasting

On the more applied side of space physics, I am also interesting in the development and validation of space-weather forecasting schemes. At the simplest end of the spectrum, this involves persistence forecasting of the solar wind ("the space-weather today will be the same as that one solar rotation ago." The current forecast can be found in the left-hand menu.). At the other end is a coupled chain of numerical magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) models.

Long-term evolution of the Sun's magnetic field

More recently I have become involved in reconstructing the long-term behaviour of the solar magnetic field, which can then be used to estimate the solar irradiance for terrestrial climate studies. Using sunspot records, I model the Sun's open solar flux back from modern times through the Maunder minimum (~1650-1710). The results compare well with independent estimates from ice-core data.

Things to do now



  • Office:
    2U03 Met
  • Email: Mathew Owens
  • Telephone:
    +44 (0) 118 378 5282

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