Robert Long

Robert Long

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PhD Title : Force Balances and Dynamical Scaling of Rotating Convection in the Earth’s core


I graduated from Coventry University with First Class BSc (Hons) Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. I spent two summers performing research in Condensed Matter Physics, looking specifically into Nanophotonics. I presented this work at the 'Mathematicians of Tomorrow' conference.

During my third year, my dissertation was in the field of Geophysical Fluid Dynamics. The project involved developing a mathematical model from the full 3D Navier-Stokes governing equations, and implementing this numerically to simulate the flow.
Dissertation title - 'A Two-Dimensional Model for Oceanic and Atmospheric Flows with a Turbulent Ekman Layer'

Research Interests

I am interested in all types of rotating flows and boundary layer problems however I am especially interested in the fluid dynamics of the Earth’s core. As we cannot access Earth-like parameter space computationally, my initial focus is looking at how scaling laws are impacted by boundary heterogeneities.

Observations suggest that mantle convection imposes a laterally varying heat flux on the core mantle boundary. I am investigating the effect of including heterogeneous heat flux boundary patterns on the heat transfer and flow dynamics within a spherical shell.

The fluid in the outer core undergoes rapid rotation (low Ekman number), strong thermal driving (high Rayleigh number) and is vigorously turbulent (high Reynolds number). This makes simulations in a spherical shell computationally expensive. The Leeds Dynamo code will be used to explore parameter space at the most Earth-like conditions achieved to date.

My PhD project will deliver a systematic study of how boundary control influences the dynamics of (non-magnetic) convection within a rotating spherical shell.

Can these dynamics then be used to explain observed features of the Earth’s magnetic field?
The non-magnetic models may be used to investigate the significant effects seen in geodynamo models, in particular those that might explain the non-axisymmetric structures of the magnetic field.

Why I chose the CDT in Fluid Dynamics

When looking at postgraduate courses, I felt that I needed a wider breadth of knowledge of the subject before I could tackle a PhD research project. Naturally, the MSc component attracted me. I am looking forward to gain exposure to experimental techniques and commercial software. A big positive for choosing the CDT is the opportunity to meet and engage with many academics before choosing the supervisory team who best suit you.