AOPP Vacation Students

2017 Summer Programme

Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics will run a summer research programme for undergraduate students. We anticipate taking about eight students.

Students will work with a supervisor in the Department, usually a postdoctoral researcher or lecturer, on a self-contained research project. Students are encouraged to take part in Departmental life, joining researchers for coffee, discussions and seminars.

The projects run for up to 10 weeks, nominally from late June to August. The duration may be shorter to accommodate summer travel. Students will be paid via a stipend (Usually £200 - £300 per week depending on hours worked). The project is full-time but hours can be discussed with your supervisor. Note that foreign applicants must already have the right to work in the UK.

Projects

Seeding the Atlantic Ocean from the Sahara (Project Assigned)

The need for iron limits the growth and diversity of sea life in many areas of the ocean. In the mid-Atlantic, the primary source of iron is dust blown from the Saharan desert. In conjunction with the European Space Agency, researchers at AOPP have recently produced a 17-year record of atmospheric particulates (known as aerosols), which includes dust. This project aims to develop a technique to isolate (and validate) the dust component of the aerosol product, convert that into a mass of iron transported, and produce a long-term estimate of the rate of iron deposition over the mid-Atlantic. Such maps will be useful both to understand the past state of the ocean and in future to predict the occurrence of algal blooms, which can be both a blessing or a curse to sea life and those that rely on it.

Skills Required

This project would suit a student with experience in using mathematics to analyse large data sets. An understanding of basic statistics is essential. Prior experience in scientific programming is preferred, if not required.

How to Apply

Supervisors: Prof. Don Grainger and Dr. Adam Povey

Contact: Dr. Adam Povey (adam.povey AT physics.ox.ac.uk)

Application: Please email a CV, name and contact details of one academic reference, and short cover letter explaining interest in this placement to adam.povey AT physics.ox.ac.uk. Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis from Monday 15th May 2017 until the position is filled.

Laboratory spectroscopy to support NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission to asteroid Bennu (Project Assigned)

In September 2016 NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission was successfully launched to asteroid Bennu (1999 RQ36) with the aim of returning a sample to Earth in the early 2020s. Here in Oxford Physics we are helping to map the composition of the asteroid to help with sample site selection and this project will allow you to be involved in the mission as we get ready for the key survey phase in 2018. This project will focus on characterising the thermal infrared (TIR) signature of meteorite analogues in anticipation of remote TIR emissivity observations of primitive asteroid Bennu. Bennu is thought to be a parent body to carbonaceous chondrite meteorites, some of the most primitive material left over from the formation of the Solar System. Being able to interpret these remote observations of its surface will be key in identifying sampling site locations, putting the collected samples into geologic context (e.g. Are the collected samples representative of materials distributed across most of the surface or are the samples collected from unique deposits?), and putting the collected sample into context with other carbonaceous chondrite meteorite classes.

In this project, we will be measuring meteorites and meteorite analogues using facilities within Oxford’s Planetary Spectroscopy Facility (PSF). The summer student will make reflectance measurements using a diffuse reflectance set-up in a Bruker Vertex 70v FTIR spectrometer and will compared to reflectance measurements they make using a microscope attached to the same FTIR spectrometer. This analysis is vital for understanding the interpretation of remote sensing observations of Bennu and other primitive asteroids. In addition, the summer student will build a website for sharing reflectance and emissivity laboratory data sets with the scientific community.

Specifically the project will entail two major tasks:

(1) Characterise OSIRIS-REx analogues using the PSF’s new FTIR microscope and compare against spectra collected using a diffuse reflectance set-up in the FTIR.
(2) Develop and build a website for the PSF for their reflectance and emissivity laboratory data sets.

Given the project description, the summer student will obtain a unique set of skills (1) mineral sample handling and preparation, (2) the use of a FTIR microscope and the use of FTIR spectrometers, (3) the analysis of reflectance and emissivity laboratory data sets, and (4) developing a website for reflectance and emissivity laboratory data sets.

Skills Required

Laboratory experience and programming experience (HTML, MATLAB, Python, IDL, etc).

How to Apply

Supervisor: Dr. Kerri Donaldson Hanna, Dr Neil Bowles

Contact: Dr. Kerri Donaldson Hanna (Kerri.DonaldsonHanna@physics.ox.ac.uk) and Dr Neil Bowles (neil.bowles@physics.ox.ac.uk)

Application: Please email a CV, name and contact details of one academic reference, and short cover letter explaining interest in this placement to Kerri.DonaldsonHanna@physics.ox.ac.uk and neil.bowles@physics.ox.ac.uk . Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis from Monday 16th May 2016 until the position is filled.

Creating a Solar Light Simulator in the Lab for Understanding the Scattering properties of the Lunar Surface (Project Assigned)

Thermal infrared spectroscopy measurements of the lunar surface can tell us a great amount of information about the surface properties, including temperature, texture, composition, emissivity, density and rock abundance. To obtain this information from thermal infrared spectral measurements made by space missions currently orbiting the lunar surface (e.g. Diviner), the spectra must be compared to spectra measured of lunar analogues in the laboratory. However, to be a valid comparison the spectra measured in the laboratory must be measured under the same conditions found at the lunar surface. These 3 conditions are:

1. The surface must be under a vacuum
2. The surface must be surrounded by cold space (i.e. 3 K background)
3. The surface must be illuminated by a solar like source

We currently have two experiments that measure the spectra/scattering from lunar soil samples in the TIR. Both experiments are under vacuum and are surrounded by a cold shield (<150 K) to simulate points 1 and 2 in the above list. However, we have not yet developed an adequate solar simulator for our experiments. Ideally this simulator would be high powered, highly collimated, highly uniform and solar like in its spectrum.

This project would involve the design, construction and testing of such a light source. The successful applicant will likely learn to use a computer based graphical design program such as Autodesk Inventor to design the light source and then either send their drawings out for manufacture or construct them themselves using our in house workshop after training. The student will then run laboratory tests to demonstrate the collimation and uniformity of the source, before using the light source to take some initial measurements with our experiments.

Skills Required

Laboratory and some programming experience (e.g MATLAB, Python etc).

How to Apply

Supervisor: Dr. Tristram Warren, Dr Neil Bowles

Contact: Dr. Tristram Warren (Tristram.Warren@physics.ox.ac.uk) and Dr Neil Bowles (neil.bowles@physics.ox.ac.uk)

Application: Please email a CV, name and contact details of one academic reference, and short cover letter explaining interest in this placement to Tristram.Warren@physics.ox.ac.uk and neil.bowles@physics.ox.ac.uk . Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis from Monday 16th May 2016 until the position is filled.

Modeling the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation in the laboratory

The Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO) is a cyclic reversal of the zonal winds in the middle and lower tropical stratosphere on a timescale of roughly two years. It dominates the climate of the tropical stratosphere, influencing the long range transport of momentum, heat and chemical constituents. It is also thought to play an important role in influencing the predictability of various features at higher latitudes and in the troposphere. Although the basic mechanisms that drive the QBO are reasonably well understood, arising from the nonlinear interaction of upward-propagating internal gravity and planetary waves (generated in the troposphere) with the zonal flow, its detailed variability is complex, chaotic and much less well understood. The atmosphere often surprises modelers with events such as the recently observed “stalling” of the QBO that their models failed to predict. The likely impact of future global climate change on the QBO is also quite controversial and uncertain.

In this project, we propose to study a number of mechanisms that might influence the behavior of the QBO using a laboratory analogue of the QBO, in which factors such as the wave forcing and other parameters can be closely controlled and varied. Internal waves are launched into a salt-stratified fluid in an annular channel by oscillating flexible membranes in the bottom of the tank. Each segment of the membrane can be separately controlled by computer to enable varying spectra of internal waves to be excited and for the amplitude of the waves to be varied in time (thereby emulating the seasonal cycle and other modulations). The response of the fluid to this forcing in the form of time varying velocity fields will then be measured by optical particle imaging techniques.

This project would involve setting up and running the experiment over a range of wave forcing profiles and frequencies, acquiring images of tracer particles and analyzing them to determine flow velocities as a function of time and space.

Skills Required

Laboratory and some programming experience (e.g MATLAB, Python etc).

How to Apply

Supervisor: Dr Alfonso Castrejon-Pita (Engineering Science), Dr Peter Read

Contact: Dr Alfonso Castrejon-Pita (alfonso.castrejon-pita@wadh.ox.ac.uk), Dr Peter Read (peter.read@physics.ox.ac.uk)

Application: Please email a CV, name and contact details of one academic reference, and short cover letter explaining interest in this placement to alfonso.castrejon-pita@wadh.ox.ac.uk and peter.read@physics.ox.ac.uk . Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis from Monday 15th May 2017 until the position is filled.

Near Real-Time Satellite Detection of Atmospheric Anomalies (Project Assigned)

The Earth Observation Data Group runs a web service to display atmospheric anomalies in near real-time (http://www.nrt-atmos.cems.rl.ac.uk/). The aim is to process and display satellite measurements within 90 minutes of acquisition. Currently produced are global SO2 concentrations which provide a measurement of volcanic eruptions. We wish to employ a vacation student to extend the website to cover other products (volcanic ash, biomass burning plumes) and improve the presentation of archived data. Any work done would need to be thoroughly documented.

Skills Required

This project would suit a student with experience in Django and python. An interest in satellite data and scientific programming is preferred, but not required.

How to Apply

Supervisors: Prof. Don Grainger and Dr Lucy Ventress

Contact: Prof. Don Grainger (r.grainger AT physics.ox.ac.uk)

Application: Please email a CV, name and contact details of one academic reference, and short cover letter explaining interest in this placement to r.grainger AT physics.ox.ac.uk. Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis from Monday 15th May 2017 until the position is filled.

Aerosol Refractive Index Archive (Project Assigned)

The Earth Observation Data Group runs a web service to display aerosol refractive indices (http://eodg.atm.ox.ac.uk/ARIA/index.html). The site has not been looked at for a number of years and needs updating. The aim of the project is to improve the website by including interactive elements (similar to https://refractiveindex.info/). Any work done would need to be thoroughly documented.

Skills Required

This project would suit a student with experience in website development. An interest in satellite data and scientific programming is preferred, but not required.

How to Apply

Supervisors: Prof. Don Grainger

Contact: Prof. Don Grainger (r.grainger AT physics.ox.ac.uk)

Application: Please email a CV, name and contact details of one academic reference, and short cover letter explaining interest in this placement to r.grainger AT physics.ox.ac.uk. Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis from Monday 29th May 2017 until the position is filled.