About Michael Thompson

About Michael Thompson

Michael Thompson, NCAR Deputy Director

Michael J. Thompson joined NCAR as Director of the High Altitude Observatory, Associate Director of NCAR, and NCAR Senior Scientist in 2010. Prior to his arrival, Michael was Head of the School of Mathematics and Statistics in the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom.

Michael's scientific research activity is principally in helioseismology, asteroseismology, solar physics, and inverse problems. He has worked extensively over more than 20 years in developing and applying inverse techniques in helioseismology, and in particular measuring the stratification, rotation, and large-scale flows in the solar interior. Michael and his wife Kate, who is a psychotherapeutic counselor and journal therapist, are delighted to live in the mountains above Boulder and they enjoy observing the wildlife and beauty of nature from their house. They also enjoy walking in the area, particularly at Walker Ranch, Brainard Lake, and Rocky Mountain National Park. Michael and Kate have one son, Robin, who is currently (at the time of writing) in school at the University of Oxford, UK, reading Mathematics.


Curriculum Vitae

To read Michael Thompson's curriculum vitae, click here.

Science Highlights

J. Christensen-Dalsgaard, M.J.P.F.G. Monteiro, M. Rempel & M.J. Thompson. 2011: A more realistic representation of overshoot at the base of the solar convective envelope as seen by helioseismology, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 414, pp. 1158–1174. [Full text article click here].

Abstract: The stratification near the base of the Sun's convective envelope is governed by processes of convective overshooting and element diffusion, and the region is widely believed to play a key role in the solar dynamo. The stratification in that region gives rise to a characteristic signal in the frequencies of solar p modes, which has been used to determine the depth of the solar convection zone and to investigate the extent of convective overshoot. Previous helioseismic investigations have shown that the Sun's spherically symmetric stratification in this region is smoother than that in a standard solar model without overshooting, and have ruled out simple models incorporating overshooting, which extend the region of adiabatic stratification and have a more-or-less abrupt transition to subadiabatic stratification at the edge of the overshoot region. In this paper we consider physically motivated models which have a smooth transition in stratification bridging the region from the lower convection zone to the radiative interior beneath. We find that such a model is in better agreement with the helioseismic data than a standard solar model.