U-M Climate and Space graduate student Austin Brenner was among the seven winners of NASA’s Michael H. Freilich Student Visualization Competition focused on science storytelling and data visualization. The winners presented their work at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) annual meeting in Chicago at the McGormack conference center on Tuesday, Dec. 13.
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Austin’s presentation focused on monitoring the evolution of space storms using a simulation of the space environment and measurements from ground magnetic observatories. Using advanced visualization tools to represent the current flows in space, he created a visual image of how large volume of space the 350+ existing magnetic observatories can “see”, as the magnetic measurements are a direct consequence of currents flowing in outer space.
The result is that even with that significant number of ground stations, the volume of space covered by these measurements is a mere 7 percent — highlighting the need for further extending the observational networks both in space and on ground, as well as the value of numerical models that can be used to fill the gaps.
The presentation is a direct extension of Austin’s research, which focuses on tracing the energy flow through the space environment into the upper atmosphere during space storms. The visualization tools he has developed can be used as well for resolving fundamental space physics questions as communicating the scientific results and their implications to the space weather users and general public.