LIFD Deputy Director awarded NERC Pushing Frontiers funding

Ambitious research to study key environmental science questions

Five innovative new research projects could push the boundaries of science and help us understand key questions of environmental and earth science, including a research project being led by LIFD Deputy Director Dr Chris Davies.

Earth’s core as a layered system
Dr Christopher Davies (University of Leeds)

Establishing the origin of Earth’s magnetic field is crucial for understanding planetary habitability and evolution and is widely recognised as a fundamental goal in Earth science. The field has shielded the surface environment from solar radiation for billions of years and now helps mitigate against space weather events, which can significantly impact telecommunications and power grids.

Yet the field is generated in the iron core, an ocean of liquid metal 2800 km below the surface, and so the changes we experience at Earth’s surface reflect dynamics in the most remote region of our planet.

The standard model of Earth’s core cannot explain crucial observations from seismology and geomagnetism and therefore lacks essential physics. Dr Davies believes that the observations can be explained by viewing the Earth’s core as a system of coupled layers, each with their own unique dynamics.

To test this hypothesis, he will develop a new model of the core that requires major enhancements to existing computer codes and solutions of new and complex systems of equations.

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