An external view of the Met Office building at night.

Dr Edmund Henley

Areas of expertise

  • Space weather
  • Simulation of thermospheric and ionospheric dynamics by numerical models
  • Thermospheric and ionospheric observations, both in situ and remote
  • Data analysis, visualisation, and outreach

Current activities

Edmund is currently working on the ATMOP project, which seeks to improve orbital predictions for low-earth-orbiting satellites, by improving our understanding of how space weather affects the upper layers of the atmosphere, which create drag on these satellites.

Space weather, such as the impact of a coronal mass ejection, can interact with the thermosphere and ionosphere, and cause them to inflate. The increase in thermospheric density means satellites passing through this region are subjected to more drag than normal, and so alter their orbits, falling inwards slightly, and advancing further along their orbits. This is a cumulative effect, and is problematic as it affects the scheduling of satellite-to-ground-station communications, amongst other things.

Edmund's work aims to complement ATMOP work on advancing the semi-empirical model typically used to forecast satellite orbits. Together with Sophie Murray and David Jackson, he is developing a data assimilation scheme for physics-based (numerical) models of the thermosphere-ionosphere system. This will improve the thermospheric densities predicted by these models (and consequently satellite orbits) by regularly bringing observations into the models, and using the observations to adjust the model fields, so the models better represent real conditions.

Together with Andrew Bushell, Edmund is also working on another EU FP7 project, ESPAS, which aims to provide a common "e-infrastructure" platform for European observations and models of the near-Earth space environment. He will use data provided through ESPAS as independent tests of his assimilation results.

Career background

Edmund has been a space weather researcher in the Stratosphere and Large-Scale Dynamics team since he joined the Met Office in 2011. Prior to that, Edmund completed a PhD in space physics in the Space and Atmospheric Physics group at Imperial College London. His PhD used data from the Cluster spacecraft to examine Earth's bow shock, a low-energy analogue for collisionless shocks commonly encountered elsewhere in the universe.