Joint Appointment with Physics Department
Ph.D., Universitat zu Koln, Germany
Research interests: Space physics, space weather solar-terrestrial relationships, plasmas and magnetic fields in space, solar wind - magnetosphere - ionosphere - thermosphere coupling, geomagnetic activity, geomagnetic storms and substorms, solar induced effects on climate, large scale modeling of magnetospheres, data assimilation, cometary physics, computational fluid dynamics, numerical methods, high performance computing.
I received a B.S. in Geophysics and Applied Mathematics (a.k.a. as Diplom Geophysiker in German) from the University of Cologne (West Germany, back then) in 1985. Subsequently I joined Professor F. M. Neubauer's GIOTTO magnetometer team at the University of Cologne as a graduate student. The GIOTTO satellite was launched in July 1985 and encountered comet P/Halley in March of 1986. It was the first spacecraft ever to come close enough to a cometary nucleus to take images and it was the first and only spacecraft so far to enter the magnetic field free inner coma of a comet. A recent NASA follow-up called CONTOUR unfortunately exploded in space, so GIOTTO will keep that distinction for a while. I completed my thesis on cometary physics and received my Ph.D. in 1989.
In 1990 I joined M. Ashour-Abdalla's group at UCLA to start with magnetospheric modeling. I developed a new magnetosphere - ionosphere model from scratch. It was the first magnetosphere model that was parallelized for the new class of message passing massive parallel machines (which was at that time a 32 node Intel IPSC860 machine with 8MB memory per node) which allowed for simulations of much larger scale than previously possible. I used the model for the first modeling studies of the distant magnetotail and the first model comparisons with Geotail in situ data. In 1999 I coupled the model with Tim Fuller-Rowell's (NOAA/SEC) CTIM model of the ionosphere - thermosphere system. It so became the first Geospace model with complete coverage from the magnetosphere to the upper atmosphere and it was used extensively for the study of geomagnetic storms. The coupled model, which is also knowm as the 'UCLA/NOAA magnetosphere - ionosphere - thermosphere model' was introduced into the Community Coordinated Modeling Center (CCMC) in 2001, where it is available for the science community for model runs on demand.
In 2003 I accepted a joint EOS/Physics faculty position at UNH. The development of the geospace model continues and it will now become the 'OpenGGCM', which stands for 'Open Geospace General Circulation Model'. I believe that best progress in understanding geospace can be made by combining observations with modeling. Towards that end I am part of NASA's Science and Technology Mission Definition Team for a Magnetospheric Constellation (MC) mission, which will for the first time provide a global coverage of at least part of the magnetosphere. Leading up to MC, which will not be launched before a decade hence, is the THEMIS mission, led by V. Angelopoulos (UC Berkeley), of which I am a Co-I. Of course, combining the data from multi satellite missions optimally with global models requires the use of data assimilation techniques, which has now become an active research topic in magnetospheric modeling and which is also pursued in my group. Besides studying the magnetosphere I am also interested in understanding how the sun influences Earth's climate by modulating the cosmic ray flux and thus cloud formation.Teaching and Research