Environmental and Applied Physics

The research in the Department of Environmental and Applied Physic focuses on Atmospheric Physics and Acoustics, includingthese areas:

Radiative Transfer Theory
The flow of solar radiation through the Earth's atmosphere is strongly influenced by clouds and aerosols. We are developing a number of computer codes to calculate radiative transfer, in order to study the influence of aerosols on this flow. We have also pioneered a perturbation technique to streamline such calculations.

Satellite Observations of Aerosols
The only source of global data on aerosol variability is space-based observation. A new generation of satellites is now in orbit with the sensitivity to provide quality data. We are accessing such data, and processing it using a number of unique algorithms which offer new insights.

Properties of Aerosol Particles
The physical, chemical and optical properties are important on both a global and a local scale. We are using a radiometer to monitor the variation of aerosol optical properties in Sydney, and along with this, we are developing methods for predicting optical properties from their physical and chemical properties. See also Aerosols Central

Ionospheric and Upper Atmosphere Physics
Electric currents flowing in the ionosphere give rise to magnetic variations which are recorded by magnetometers on the ground. A relationship is being sought between the magnetometer records and the tidal winds which drive the ionospheric currents. A computer model of the process gives some insight and various methods are used to study the records. Several analyses of lunar tides in the upper atmosphere are being used, along with the same computer model, to seek an understanding of this tide in the upper atmosphere.

Flutes, reeds, didjeridus and other wind instruments
We study the physics and the interaction among them. Some studies are supported by instrument makers but many are looking at fundamental questions, such as the playing interaction. The interaction of the player's vocal tract with the instrument is fundamental in playing the dijeridu, but it is also important in other instruments: it is one of the reasons why good and bad players make different sounds. We are studying these interactions using techniques developed in the laboratory. We also use these techniques to study the acoustical properties of the instruments. See Music Acoustics

Voice Acoustics
What goes on acoustically in singing and speech? In these projects, acoustical measurements are made of the vocal tract (using a synthesized acoustic current signal as a probe) and the results are compared with the speech signal (see http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/speech.html).

Academic Staff and Research Fields

Dr. Gail P. Box BSc. PhD. N’cle NSW, Cert. HEd UNSW
My research area is the optical, physical and chemical properties of aerosols. We are making measurements of Sydney aerosols using particle samplers for the chemistry, a nephelometer and a radiometer for optical parameters. These measurements are being used to study the variations of aerosol properties over time, and the relationships between the different properties, especially prediction of optical properties from chemistry.
Associate Professor Michael A. Box BSc. Monash, PhD. Sydney, MAIP
My work covers all aspects of atmospheric aerosols and their interaction with solar radiation. Ground based (and airborne) measurements provide data on the aerosol physical, chemical and optical properties, which can be used improve the analysis of satellite observations, and also help understand aerosol climatic effects. My group has also developed a number of powerful techniques to perform radiation transport calculations which are central to this work.
Associate Professor John Smith BSc. Sydney, PhD. UNSW
My research in acoustics is centred on applications of a novel acoustic impedance spectrometer developed by the acoustics group. We are currently making a detailed experimental study of the linear acoustics of some wind instruments (flute, clarinet, didjeridu) and using these data to develop theoretical models that predict their behaviour. This spectrometer is also being used to study the acoustics of the vocal tract during speech and whilst playing a musical instrument.
Associate Professor Robert J. Stening MSc. Sydney, PhD Qld., DipTertEd N.E. ThC (Moore Coll) FAIP
Electric currents in the ionosphere. These are generated at around 110 km altitude when winds blow the ionized atmosphere at these heights across the Earth’s magnetic field, generating emfs. The currents are observed as small magnetic changes on magnetometers at ground-based magnetic observatories and on satellites. Ultimately I would like to be able to infer from the magnetic variations what the winds are doing, which should, in turn, tell us something about the general state of the upper atmosphere. We use computer models to tell us what magnetic variations are produced by different expected wind systems. The relation between Science and Christianity.
Professor Joe Wolfe BSc. Qld, BA. UNSW, PhD. ANU.
My research in acoustics concerns musical instruments, the vocal tract and information in music. Our acoustics group has developed techniques for rapid, precise measurement of acoustic impedance spectra and transfer functions. We use these to study the acoustics of musical instruments and of the vocal tract. The research on instruments is supported by instrument makers.