Using Extreme Value Statistics to Quantify Space Weather Risk

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University of Birmingham
Study Options
Full Time

The University of Birmingham is developing a programme of world leading research in the field of Space Environment. As part of the plan to develop the group, an opportunity has arisen for a fully funded PhD studentship.

Space weather events can negatively effect satellites, the electricity grid, satellite navigation systems and human health. Such consequences have caused space weather to be added to the UK (amongst other nations) National Risk Register. Many existing systems actively mitigate against such events, however there is a need to investigate the likelihood of extreme space weather events. Extreme events, by there very nature, occur rarely. Main existing studies have assumed a power-law distribution of events and have estimated probabilities of such events in that way.

However, recent work using extreme value theory (EVT) has sought to put more mathematical rigour into the estimation of extreme space weather events. Well understood, quantified, estimation of such events is required for future policy decisions and modelling of the space weather problem. The proposed programme will apply EVT and other sophisticated statistical techniques to a wide range of physical datasets in order to characterise the underlying distribution of extreme space weather. There will also be a specific focus on clarifying the statistical risk of Space Weather events to the UK, as currently it sits as the 5th most important risk to the UK (high likelihood and medium risk). It is also expected that a successful candidate would feed into the groups wider research interests.

UK/EU students with interests in statistics and upper atmospheric modelling are invited to apply for this fully funded post. Applications are open to students that have, or expect to obtain, a 1st class degree (or equivalent) in a wide variety of scientific disciplines including mathematics and physics. Due to the nature of the project, the applicant must be able to demonstrate a high level of mathematical and programming ability.

This fully-funded 3.5 year PhD opportunity will be based within the Space Environment and RF Engineering (SERENE) group at the University of Birmingham. The successful candidate will also be expected to collaborate with researchers in Europe and the USA.

For informal enquiries please contact Sean Elvidge (s.elvidge[at]

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