Dr Alan Wood PhD

Alan Wood

Department of Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering
Lecturer in Space Weather and Space Systems Engineering

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Alan Wood is a Lecturer in Space Weather and Space Systems Engineering ad is part of the Space Environment and Radio Engineering (SERENE) group in the School of Engineering.

Space weather causes the northern lights, which are one of the most beautiful of all natural phenomena. However, many of our technological systems are vulnerable to other consequences of space weather. Alan’s research is focussed on improving our understanding of these phenomena, particularly at mid- and high-latitudes.

Alan is an enthusiastic communicator. In addition to undergraduate teaching, he enjoys showcasing this fascinating research area to schools and the wider community.


  • Ph.D. “Multi-instrument studies of the high-latitude nightside ionosphere”, University of Wales Aberystwyth, 2008
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism Studies (Broadcast Option), Cardiff University, 2003
  • M.Phys. in Physics with Planetary and Space Physics (1st Class), University of Wales Aberystwyth, 2002


Alan qualified with MPhys (Hons) in Physics with Planetary and Space Physics from the University of Wales Aberystwyth in 2002. His undergraduate studies included five months in the arctic at the University Centre on Svalbard (UNIS), which stimulated his interest in space weather. He studied for a PhD at Aberystwyth where he conducted observational studies of the high-latitude nightside ionosphere.

Upon completion of his PhD, he worked as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Planetary Magnetospheres and Ionospheres at Aberystwyth University, before joining the School of Engineering at the University of Liverpool where he worked on a road safety project. He subsequently applied the statistical methods from this road safety project to the ionosphere and that forms the basis of much of his current work.

In 2012 Alan was appointed as a lecturer in the School of Science and Technology at Nottingham Trent University. He moved to the School of University of Birmingham in 2021. His current research interests span space weather and its impact on the terrestrial environment.

He is also a qualified broadcast journalist. Alan trained at the Cardiff Journalism School and has worked as a journalist at Southern Gloucestershire’s Star 107.


  • Communications Systems

Postgraduate supervision

Dr Wood is always happy to consider inquiries and applications from prospective PhD students interested in space weather.

Prior to approaching Alan, prospective applicants should prepare a short statement of proposed research (no more than two sides of A4, in addition to a CV) indicating the following:

  • Identify an area of new work (what is worth pursuing?)
  • Show a reasonable understanding of existing work in the field (what is the state-of-the-art?)
  • Indicate that you know how to achieve the project aims (what are your specific skills and experiences that make you a suitable person to study for a PhD?)


Alan’s research is focused on plasma structures in the terrestrial ionosphere, which can impact technological systems including Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), of which the best known is GPS (Global Positioning Service). He seeks to determine the morphology, origin and evolution of these structures. These structures can be driven from above (in which case they give a fundamental insight into the coupling of the Earth’s atmosphere to the near-space environment) or from the terrestrial environment (in which case they give a fundamental insight into vertical and./or horizontal coupling within the atmosphere).

He uses a range of observational instruments including the EISCAT (European Incoherent Scatter) radars, the International LOFAR (Low Frequency Array) Telescope and the ESA (European Space Agency) Swarm satellites.

His research activities include projects funded by the Leverhulme Trust and the European Space Agency.

Other activities

  • Member of the Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Exam Board Science Forum
  • Member of the UK EISCAT (European Incoherent Scatter) Advisory Group


 Jaroslav Urbár, Luca Spogli, Antonio Cicone, Lasse B.N. Clausen, Yaqi Jin, Alan G. Wood, Lucilla Alfonsi, Claudio Cesaroni, Daria Kotova, Per Høeg, Wojciech J. Miloch, Multi-scale response of the high-latitude topside ionosphere to geospace forcing, Advances in Space Research, 2022, ISSN 0273-1177, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.asr.2022.06.045.

Alan G. Wood, Lucilla Alfonsi, Lasse B. N. Clausen, Yaqi Jin, Luca Spogli, Jaroslav Urbar, James T. Rawlings, Ian C. Whittaker, Gareth D. Dorrian, Per Høeg, Daria Kotova, Claudio Cesaroni, Antonio Cicone, Jan Miedzik, Ewa Gierlach, Paula Kochanska, Pawel Wojtkiewicz, Golnaz Shahtahmassebi, Wojciech J. Miloch, Variability of Ionospheric Plasma: Results from the ESA Swarm Mission, Space Science Reviews, doi: 10.1007/s11214-022-00916-0, 2022.

Themens, D. R., Watson, C., Žagar, N., Vasylkevych, S., Elvidge, S., McCaffrey, A., Prikryl, P., Reid, B., Wood, A. G. and Jayachandran, P. T., Global propagation of ionospheric disturbances associated with the 2022 Tonga volcanic eruption. Geophysical Research Letters, 49, e2022GL098158, 2022. https://doi.org/10.1029/2022GL098158.

Fallows, R. A., Forte, B., Astin, I. Allbrook, T., Arnold, A., Wood, A., Dorrian, G., Rothkaehl, H. Matyjasiak, B., Krankowski, A. et al., A LOFAR Observation of Ionospheric Scintillation from Simultaneous Medium- and Large-scale Travelling Ionospheric Disturbances, J. Space Weather Space Clim., 2020. doi.org/10.1051/swsc/2020010.

Jenner, L., Wood, A. G., Dorrian, G. D., Oksavik, K., Yeoman, T. K. and Fogg, A., Plasma Density Gradients at the Edge of Polar Ionospheric Holes: The Absence of Phase Scintillation, Ann. Geophys., 38, 1–16, in press, 2020. doi.org/10.5194/angeo-38-1-2020.

Dorrian, G. D., Wood, A. G., Ronksley, A., Aruliah A., and Shahtahmassebi, G.  Statistical modelling of the coupled F-region ionosphere-thermosphere at high latitude during polar darkness, J. Geophys. Res., 124, doi.org/10.1029/2018JA026171, 2019.

Wood, A. G., Mountain, L., Connors, R. Maher, M., and Ropkins, K., Updating outdated predictive accident models, Accident Analysis and Prevention., 55, 48-53, doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2013.02.028, 2013.

Connors, R., Maher, M., Wood, A. G., Mountain, L. and Ropkins, K., Methodology for fitting and updating predictive accident models with trend, Accident Analysis and Prevention., 56, 82-94, doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2013.03.009, 2013.

Wood, A. G., Mountain, L., Connors, R. and Maher, M., Updating Predictive Accident Models of Modern Rural Single Carriageway A-roads, Transportation Planning and Technology, GTPT-2012-0024, 2013.

Wood, A. G., Pryse, S. E., Grande, M., Whittaker, I. C., Coates, A. J., Husband, K.,  Baumjohann, W., Zhang, T., Mazelle, C., Kallio, E., Fränz, M., McKenna-Lawlor, S. and Wurz, P., The transterminator ion flow at Venus at Solar Minimum, Planet. Sp. Sci., 73, doi: 10.1016/j.pss.2012.08.006, 2012.

Maher, M., Connors, R., Ropkins, K., Wood, A. G. and Mountain, L., Fitting and updating predictive accident models including trend, Proceedings of the 17th International Conference of Hong Kong Society for Transportation Studies, 2012.

Wood, A. G. and Pryse, S. E., Seasonal influence on polar cap patches in the high-latitude nightside ionosphere, J. Geophys. Res., 115, A07311, doi:10.1029/2009JA014985, 2010.

Bisi, M. M., Breen, A. R., Jackson, B. V., Fallows, R. A., Walsh, A. P., Mikić,  Z., Riley, P., Owen, C. J., Gonzalez-Esparza, A., Aguilar-Rodriguez, E., Morgan, H., Jensen, E. A., Wood, A. G., Tokumaru, M., Manoharan, P. K., Chashei, I. V., Giunta, A. S., Linker, J. A., Shishov, V. I., Tyul’bashev, S. A., Agalya, G., Glubokova, S. K., Hamilton, M. S., Fujiki, K., Hick, P. P., Clover, J. M., Pintér, B., From the Sun to the Earth: the 13 May 2005 Coronal Mass Ejection, Solar Physics, 265, 49-127, doi:10.1007/s11207-010-9602-8, 2009.

Wood, A. G., Pryse, S. E., and Moen, J., Modulation of nightside polar patches by substorm activity, Ann. Geophys., 27, 3923-3932, doi:10.5194/angeo-27-3923-2009, 2009.

Wood, A. G., Pryse, S. E., Middleton, H. R., and Howells, V. S. C., Multi-instrument observations of nightside plasma patches under conditions of IMF Bz positive, Ann. Geophys., 26, 2203-2216, doi:10.5194/angeo-26-2203-2008, 2008.

Middleton H. R., Pryse, S. E., Wood, A. G. and Balthazor, R., The role of the tongue-of-ionization in the formation of the poleward wall of the main trough in the European post-midnight sector, J. Geophys. Res., 113, A02306, doi:10.1029/2007JA012631, 2008.

Pryse, S. E., Whittick, E. L., Wood, A. G. and Middleton, H. R., Influence of IMF Bz on the ionospheric plasma distribution at high latitudes in the European sector: radiotomography observations and the CTIP model, Proc. International Beacon Satellite Symposium, Boston College, Boston, USA, pp20, 2007.

Pryse, S. E., Middleton, H. R. and Wood, A. G., Llif yr atmosffer drydanol dros begwn y gogledd: arsylwadau tomograffi radio a SuperDARN, Gwerddon, 1(2), 38-56 (ISSN 1741-4261), 2006.

Pryse, S. E., Wood, A. G., Middleton, H. R., McCrea, I. W., and Lester, M., Reconfiguration of polar-cap plasma in the magnetic midnight sector, Ann. Geophys., 24, doi:10.5194/angeo-24-2201-2006, 2201-2208, 2006.

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