Dr Murray Sciffer
|Work Phone||(02) 4921 5800|
School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences
The University of Newcastle, Australia
|Office||P125 Office/P107 Spa, Physics|
The focus of my research has been on understanding and developing mathematical models which simulate the Earths ionosphere reaction to incident ULF Alfven waves. It has also focused on how these waves interact with other regions in the magnetosphere such as on the ground and from the magnetosphere. These regions of the magnetosphere are a coupled and connected system, feeding back upon one another. The geometry of the background magnetic field as well as different boundary interactions play a significant role in governing ULF wave behavior and hence affect on space weather. Aside from development of these models, experimental data both from Radar and ground based magnetometers have been used to verify the results from these models. I am a firm believer in verifying model prediction with experimental evidences where applicable. My work on the ionospheric boundary in the presence of an oblique magnetic field as well as the effect of ionospheric conductivity in this realistic scenario has promoted others in the field to pursue there own work in the area.
Upon the awarding of my PhD from the University of Newcastle in August 1998 I was employed under a variety of ARC grants by the Centre for Space Physics at Newcastle as a full time postdoctoral research associate. In January 2002 I left my academic career for personal reasons and was overseas in the United States involved in a non research related field. Returning in May 2002 I have been continually employed on a casual basis by the University of Newcastle in wide variety of lecturing and teaching positions. However this has severely limited my ability to pursue my research interests due to the hours committed to this casual teaching. Teaching has occupied as much as seven hundred face-to face hours plus the associated preparation and marking time for the last four years. In spite of this I have managed to pursue my research interest as my time and funding allows.
- PhD, University of Newcastle, 1998
- Bachelor of Mathematics (Honours), University of Newcastle, 1993
- Computational Simulations
- Ionospheric Physics
- Magnetospheric Physics
- Numerical Modeling
- Solar Physics
For the last eight years I have been employed in a research capacity in the Centre for Space Physics Group at the University of Newcastle. One of the groups major research interests is the propagation of ultra low frequency (ULF) waves.
The majority of my research activity in these years has been in the development of both analytic and numerical models describing the propagation of ULF waves through the earths ionosphere and to its surface. This work has attracted significant attention from specialists in the area, as it examines the influences of the declination of the earths geomagnetic field on ULF wave propagation, a factor which has long been recognised, although all-but ignored until now. The modelling and theoretical predictions in both the numerical and analytical models are essential if this geophysical feature is to be included in the existing theory and models.
The modelling results show the importance of the declination of earths geomagnetic field and the impact this has on observed data. A better understanding of the effects of such an oblique magnetic field will aid ground-based diagnostics of magnetospheric dynamics, - an important part of space weather monitoring.
The numerical model for ULF wave propagation is also used in another area of research in which I have been involved. The propagation of HF (3-30 MHz) signals via the ionosphere has been studied since the advent of radio. At these frequencies, the properties of the ionospheric plasma cause the signal to be continually refracted which makes long distance communications possible yet very dependent on ionospheric parameters. The propagation path in the ionosphere is determined by the signal frequency and the mediums refractive index. Any time-variation in the refractive index will also vary the propagation path, giving rise to a Doppler frequency shift of the HF signal. Changes in the refractive index due to ULF (1-100 mHz) waves incident from the top side ionosphere may be examined via a combination of the ULF and an HF model which has been developed at Newcastle.
I am further improving the ionospheric and MHD models and extending them into two and then three dimensions. This will be the subject of an ARC discovery grant proposal I will submit for funding in 2008. I believe that this will advance our understanding of the coupled Magnetospheric - Ionospheric - Ground system. It will help interpret the data collected by ground magnetometers, SuperDARN radars and Satellites. This will then improve the long range forecasting of space weather.
Fields of Research
|020100||Astronomical And Space Sciences||90|
|040499||Geophysics Not Elsewhere Classified||10|
Centres and Groups
- Enabling Education
- Postgraduate Physics
- Undergradate Physics
- Undergraduate Mathematics
During the last fifteen years I have enjoyed teaching and tutoring to students at the University of Newcastle in a range of subjects. These subjects have included many topics in mathematics and physics. I have conducted tutorial in both mathematics and physics as well as laboratory work in physics.
I taught the Open Foundation Course Science Mathematics, for a number of years, as well as a number of other university courses in mathematics (for B Eng, B Maths, B Ed and B Sc students). I have had the pleasure to teach a group of Thai secondary teachers in mathematical modelling (equivalent to a course at 2nd year university), as part of a development program for these teachers.
At the time I began my post-doctoral work with the Physics Department at Newcastle University in 1998, I also commenced lecturing and tutoring in the departments courses. My lecturing has included many of the first year physics courses the department offers, as well some third and fourth year offerings. For a number of years I conducted a fourth year course in Space Physics, a subject closely related to my research area.
I have lectured in Phys1200, 1210 and 1220 at the Ourimbah and Callaghan campus of the University of Newcastle. As one of the primary lecturers for this subject I was responsible for course content, examination, progress assessment, and preparation of the components of the course as well as laboratories, which are a vital part of the subject. I have also lectured and undertaken laboratory demonstrations for Occupational Health and Safety students at Callaghan Campus. This subject examined safety issues which arise in the work place and emphasised how physics may be applied to their resolution.
Currently I am the physics lecturer and coordinator for the English Language and Foundations Studies Centre (ELFSC) at the University of Newcastle. This role involves preparation and delivery of physics courses for international and mature-age-entry students. Included in this work are demonstrations and the supervision of physics laboratories for the international students.