Space storm studies win prizes for Lancaster scientists
Lancaster University research into the threat to electricity distribution grids posed by solar activity won two prizes at the UK National Astronomy Meeting held at the University of Glasgow between 12-16 April 2010.
Changes in the space environment driven by solar activity can cause fluctuations in the Earth's magnetic field that lead to Geomagnetically Induced Currents (GICs) in power grids. These currents have previously been blamed for blackouts in Canada and Sweden and are suspected of damaging power transformers in countries at lower latitudes. Large GICs have even been recorded in Scotland.
Department of Communication Systems PhD student Katie Turnbull presented results from a new model that shows the widespread impact inclement space weather could have on the UK. Working in collaboration with the British Geological Survey (BGS), Katie developed a model that takes magnetic field measurements from all over the UK and combines them with the BGS's 3D model of how the ground beneath the UK conducts electricity, in order to estimate the currents induced at over 250 locations in the high voltage national grid.
Results presented at the conference compared simulated GICs in the UK grid model with those actually measured during a geomagnetic storm in February 2003. The simulated and measured currents are similar, but the model suggests that high currents are likely to be induced at several locations in the grid where GICs were not being monitored by the power industry at the time.
At the same meeting, Katie's PhD supervisor in the Space Plasma Environment and Radio Science group, Dr Jim Wild, presented a poster summarising the present day challenges in understanding the geomagnetic hazard to national power grids. The presentation highlighted the outputs of a recent workshop held at the Hermanus Magnetic Observatory in South Africa and funded by the Royal Society that brought together British and South African space scientists and power engineers to assess the state-of-the-art in the measurement, prediction and mitigation of GIC hazards.
Both Katie's talk and Jim's poster won a Royal Astronomical Society Rishbeth Prize. These prizes are awarded annually to the best talk and best poster presented at the meeting, as voted by delegates attending and being judged on which were the most novel, interesting, clearly presented, and influential.
Thu 22 April 2010
School of Computing and Communications computer scientists are at the forefront of a UK-wide BBC initiative launched on March 12th to inspire a new generation to get creative with coding, programming and digital technology.
Story supplied by LU Press Office
Tue 31 March 2015
A Faculty team representing science, technology, engineering and maths took part in EDF Energy's 'Science Day' on Saturday 21st March at Heysham Power Station.
Wed 25 March 2015
Professor Roger Jones has replaced Professor Peter Ratoff as Head of the Physics Department. Roger gained a PhD studying neutrino interactions at CERN and Fermilab before starting his career at CERN working at the Large Electron-Positron (LEP) Collider.
Tue 24 March 2015
As part of British Science week, 170 students from 14 schools across the region came to Lancaster University on Wednesday 18th March to compete in science, technology, engineering and mathematics challenges.
Mon 23 March 2015