High Performance Computing Enables
Modeling of Space Storms
Robert Rankin is a specialist in space physics at
the University of Alberta, and one of the heads
of the universitys Space Weather Program.
He is the driving force behind magnetic storm research
in Canada and works extensively with the Canadian
Space Agency. Rankin and his colleagues are presently
involved with a new project to set up a Canada-US
Center for Data Assimilation and Modelling (CDAM).
This collaborative research project involves the
Canadian Space Agency, the University of Michigan,
and the University of Alberta
.Rankin and his colleagues are creating magnetic
storm simulations in hopes of discovering the key
to understanding particle instabilities and disturbances
found within the Earths magnetosphere. Rankin
hopes that space weather research collaboration
will aid in achieving the research groups
ultimate goal to give space scientists the ability
to forecast space weather disturbances.
The Earths magnetosphere is a dynamic region
of space which envelopes the planet like a giant teardrop.
This spherical layer is constantly bombarded by streams
of fast-moving particles ejected from the surface of
the sun. Researching these particle disturbances takes
a tremendous amount of computing power to simulate conditions
of this nature. The MACI initiative provides this computing
power, allowing Rankin and his colleagues the ability
to study the formation of magnetic storms and sub storms
in the upper layers of the Earths atmosphere and
surrounding regions of space.
Rankin is emphatic about the importance of MACI in
relation to his research. Parallel computing is essential
when it comes to running large 3D models, and if Rankins
group did not have the MACI infrastructure, the cost
would be too large for the Canadian Space Agency alone.
Without first class computing facilities Rankin observes
that his group would be unable to carry out this research.
· I. Voronkov, J.C. Samson, E. Friedrich,
R. Rankin, V.T. Tikhonchuk, and E.F. Donovan. On
the Distinction Between, and the Relevance of, Auroral
Breakup and Substorm Expansive Phase Onset, Proc.
5th International Conference on Substorms, St. Petersburg,
Russia, 16-20 May 2000, ESA SP-443, July,
· R. Rankin and V. T. Tikhonchuk. Electron
Kinetic Effects in Dispersive Shear Alfven Waves in
the Dipolar Magnetosphere, Phys. Plasmas, 7,
· R. Rankin, F.R. Fenrich, and V.T. Tikhonchuk.
Shear Alfven Waves on Stretched Magnetic Field Lines
near Midnight in Earth's Magnetosphere, Geophys.
Res. Lett., 27, 27, 3265-3268, 2000.
· I. Voronkov, R. Rankin, J. C. Samson,
and V. T. Tikhonchuk. Shear Flow Instability in the
Dipolar Magnetosphere, J. Geophys. Res., 104,
· R. Rankin, J.C. Samson, and V.T. Tikhonchuk.
Parallel Electric Fields in Dispersive Shear Alfven
Waves in the Dipolar Magnetosphere, Geophys.
Res. Lett., 26, 3601, 1999.