We may feel the chill here in the winter weather but spare a thought for former University of Bath doctoral student, Alex Chartier, who is at the South Pole experiencing temperatures below -30°C.
Alex finished his Engineering Doctorate here five years ago. His research into forecasting of the ionosphere, the Earth's upper atmosphere, saw him receive a prestigious national prize from the Royal Astronomy Society and has kept him on a stellar trajectory ever since.
Since completing his doctorate, Alex has been working at Johns Hopkins University Applied Research Laboratories, a world famous laboratory with leading international expertise in space science and space exploration. He is currently at the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station, a United States scientific research station at the South Pole, the southernmost place on the Earth.
The ionosphere is part of the Earth's upper atmosphere, where we see the aurora borealis, the northern lights and the aurora australis, the southern lights. Alex's research is trying to answer a fundamental scientific question about the reasons behind inter hemispherical differences in the polar ionospheres. Alex explained: "The Antarctic and Arctic ionospheres behave quite differently under similar physical conditions and we simply do not know why that is. In order to answer that question, we need more measurements and my work in the Antarctic this year is to plan such experiments."
Alex's former PhD supervisor and collaborator, Professor Cathryn Mitchell, commented: "Alex is a great example of the quality of researchers that we have here at Bath and of the successful career paths that so many go on to enjoy. Very few British scientists have the chance to go to the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station. We are lucky that myself, and now two of my former doctoral students at Bath have had that opportunity. I am very proud to be a collaborator on his National Science Foundation Antarctic project and wish him well in the cold!"