Dr. William E. Ward
Research in Space and Atmospheric Physics has become more sophisticated with recent advances in atmospheric models and the remote sensing capabilities of modern satellite instrumentation. Models now reproduce many of the observed features of the terrestrial atmosphere and simultaneous global observations of constituents and dynamical observables (wind, temperature, density, etc.) are now available.Space and Atmospheric Physics
In the past the challenge was to develop these models and instrumentation separately and then interpret the resulting data. Current work involves determining how best to combine our modelling capabilities with sophisticated observations to provide comprehensive data sets, to improve our understanding of the phenomena involved and to develop a predictive capability based on appropriately combining observations and models (data assimilation). The development of such an approach is especially important today now that the human species has become one of the forcing agents of the atmospheric system. While expertise in a specific discipline is still needed to do productive research in this field, knowledge of other disciplines is important for identifying the problems of importance and for interacting with other scientists on the interdisciplinary problems currently facing us.
Research at the University of New Brunswick is directed toward the observation of and interpretation of dynamical features in planetary atmospheres with an emphasis on the terrestrial middle/upper atmosphere. Work is starting later this year on the construction of an exciting new optical interferometer which will provide simultaneously images of winds and airglow from the ground at a rate faster than any other instrument in the world. Data sets from Canada's Wind Imaging Interferometer and the CRISTA instrument are allowing us to identify large scale waves in the middle atmosphere with winds over 200 km/h and to investigate their impact. Satellite instruments are being developed in collaboration with groups across Canada to probe the dynamics of the terrestrial and Martian atmospheres. Mission possibilities are likely to develop in the next few years. The models being used to interpret this data range from simpler process models which are used to explain the physical mechanisms behind various features to complex general circulation models such as the Canadian Middle Atmosphere Model. Graduate student opportunities exist in all these areas.