Date of Award

Spring 2008

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Science


In this thesis numerical finite difference methods for ideal magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) are investigated. A review of the relevant physics, essential for interpreting the results of numerical solutions and constructing validation cases, is presented. This review includes a discusion of the propagation of small amplitude waves in the MHD system as well as a thorough discussion of MHD shocks, contacts and rarefactions and how they can be pieced together to obtain a solutions to the MHD Riemann problem. Numerical issues relevant to the MHD system such as: the loss of nonlinear numerical stability in the presence of discontinuous solutions, the introduction of spurious forces due to the growth of the divergence of the magnetic flux density, the loss of pressure positivity, and the effects of non-conservative numerical methods are discussed, along with the practical approaches which can be used to remedy or minimize the negative consequences of each. The use of block structured adaptive mesh refinement is investigated in the context of a divergence free MHD code. A new method for conserving magnetic flux across AMR grid interfaces is developed and a detailed discussion of our implementation of this method using the CHOMBO AMR framework is given. A preliminary validation of the new method for conserving magnetic flux density across AMR grid interfaces illustrates that the method works. Finally a number of code validation cases are examined spurring a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the numerics employed.