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Professor Clare Watt


Department: Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering

Prof Clare Watt is a space plasma physicist who specializes in space weather at Earth. She leads projects to study the physics of Earth’s radiation belts through numerical simulation, analysis of spacecraft observations and theory.

She graduated with a PhD in space plasma physics from St Catharine’s College, Cambridge in 2002, during which time she created a new plasma simulation model at the British Antarctic Survey. Her work then took her to University of Alberta in Canada, where she created numerical models of acceleration of auroral electrons in polar regions. Clare’s focus is kinetic plasma physics as applied to space plasma environments. Largely this takes the form of wave-particle interactions, where charged particles in the collisionless environment of space interact with electromagnetic waves. This can result in energisation or scattering, and can be used to explain auroral processes, energisation of Earth’s radiation belts and even potentially the trigger for the explosive energy release in a magnetospheric substorm.

She has led large STFC Consolidated Grants (2015-2020) to study solar system physics, and is currently part of two large space weather consortia: Rad-Sat (2017-2021) which makes improvements to the modelling of acceleration, transport and loss of radiation belt electrons to protect satellites from space weather, and Sat-Risk (2020-2023) whose goal is to develop a real-time system to forecast radiation exposure to satellites for a range of different orbits, and quantify the risk of damage or degradation.

She currently serves on advisory groups for national and international space agencies, including the Human and Robotic Exploration Directorate of the European Space Agency, and the UK Space Agency. From 2017-2020 she was a Councillor and Trustee of the Royal Astronomical Society, and has served on the Science and Technology Facilities Council Astronomy Grants Panel.

Clare Watt

I am a space plasma physics specialist with a keen interest in space weather. In short, this means I am interested in many aspects of Earth's space plasma environment: the magnetosphere, the Radiation Belts, substorms and more! Right now, I use my knowledge of kinetic space plasma physics, numerical modelling, and stochastic processes to consider the physics of Earth's outer radiation belt. This is a golden age of space plasma physics observations and I am excited to use the enormous NASA Van Allen Probes data sets to discover more about space weather for satellites.

I lead a small team who use numerical modelling, machine learning, and more traditional data analysis techniques to probe the mysteries of the high-energy environment in Earth's outer radiation belt. Please see Publications Page for latest publications.

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Effects of Plasma Density on the Spatial and Temporal Scale Sizes of Plasmaspheric Hiss, Zhang, S., Rae, I., Liu, K., Watt, C., Shi, Q., Tian, A., Degeling, A., Guo, R., Wang, M., Shen, X., Yao, F., Li, J. Mar 2024, In: Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
  • How to be good to your brain, Watt, C., Rasinskaite, D. 1 Feb 2024, In: Astronomy and Geophysics
  • The challenge to understand the zoo of particle transport regimes during resonant wave-particle interactions for given survey-mode wave spectra, Allanson, O., Ma, D., Osmane, A., Albert, J., Bortnik, J., Watt, C., Chapman, S., Joseph, S., Ratliff, D., Meredith, N., Elsden, T., Neukirch, T., Hartley, D., Black, R., Watkins, N., Elvidge, S. 13 Mar 2024, In: Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences
  • A New Four‐Component L*‐Dependent Model for Radial Diffusion Based on Solar Wind and Magnetospheric Drivers of ULF Waves, Murphy, K., Breneman, A., Sandhu, J., Angelpoulos, V., Kellerman, A., Watt, C., Daggitt, T., Wygant, J., Horne, R., Tian, S., Bentley, S., Glauert, S., Olifer, L., Mann, I., Rae, J., Ozeke, L., Halford, A. Jul 2023, In: Space Weather
  • Statistical Characterization of the Dynamic Near-Earth Plasma Sheet Relative to Ultra-Low Frequency (ULF) Wave Growth at Substorm Onset, Smith, A., Rae, I., Forsyth, C., Watt, C., Murphy, K. Jan 2023, In: Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
  • The wave energy density and growth rate for the resonant instability in relativistic plasmas, Jeong, S., Watt, C. 1 Jun 2023, In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
  • Using Machine Learning to Diagnose Relativistic Electron Distributions in the Van Allen Radiation Belts, Killey, S., Rae, J., Chakraborty, S., Smith, A., Bentley, S., Bakrania, M., Wainwright, R., Watt, C., Sandhu, J. 2023, In: Royal Astronomical Society Techniques and Instruments
  • Evidence of Alfvénic Activity in Jupiter's Mid‐To‐High Latitude Magnetosphere, Lorch, C., Ray, L., Wilson, R., Bagenal, F., Crary, F., Delamere, P., Damiano, P., Watt, C., Allegrini, F. 1 Jun 2022, In: Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
  • Intense chorus waves are the cause of flux-limiting in the heart of the outer radiation belt, Chakraborty, S., Mann, I., Watt, C., Rae, I., Olifer, L., Ozeke, L., Sandhu, J., Mauk, B., Spence, H. 15 Dec 2022, In: Scientific Reports
  • Temporal variability of quasi-linear pitch-angle diffusion, Watt, C., Allison, H., Bentley, S., Thompson, R., Rae, I., Allanson, O., Meredith, N., Ross, J., Glauert, S., Horne, R., Zhang, S., Murphy, K., Rasinskaitė, D., Killey, S. 13 Oct 2022, In: Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Membership of council: Council of Royal Astronomical Society (External organisation) 2022
  • Editorial work: Scientific Reports (Journal) 2022
  • Editorial work: Royal Astronomical Society Techniques and Instruments (Journal) 2022
  • Invited talk: Auroral Acceleration Mechanisms and how they relate to the Magnetospheric Substorm 2020
  • Examination: PhD viva examination at University of Leicester 2020
  • Membership of council: European Space Agency - ESA (External organisation) 2019
  • Membership of council: Council of Royal Astronomical Society (External organisation) 2017

  • Emily Grant Improving Diffusion Coefficient Models for whistler-mode Chorus Wave-Particle Interactions Start Date: 01/01/2024
  • Dovile Rasinskaite The Substorm Source of the Earth's Outer Radiation Belt Start Date: 01/06/2021

  • Physics PhD June 02 2002
  • Mathematical Physics BSc (Hons) July 15 1998

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