International space weather and space climate medals

The International Kristian Birkeland medal 2018 is attributed to

Professor Tamas Gombosi

The International Marcel Nicolet medal 2018 is attributed to

Professor Hermann J Opgenoorth

The International Alexander Chizhevsky medal 2018 is attributed to

Dr. Christina Kay

left to right: Professor Tamas Gombosi, Dr. Christina Kay, Professor Hermann J Opgenoorth.

About Professor Tamas Gombosi

Professor Gombosi is a leader in space weather and planetary research, a visionary in Space Weather numerical modeling, and a pioneer of cometary plasma physics. Professor Gombosi was born and raised in Hungary. He earned his PhD in physics at the Roland Eötvös University in Budapest and joined the Central Research Institute for Physics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Next, he went to Moscow where he was mentored by such giants of Soviet space science as Roald Sagdeev, Pavel Elyasberg, Albert Galeev, Konstantin Gringauz, and Vitaliy Shapiro.

At the end of 1983 Professor Gombosi moved to the University of Michigan in the United States, where he is the Rollin M. Gerstacker Professor of Engineering and the Konstantin Gringauz Distinguished University Professor of Space Science.

Since the mid 1990s Professor Gombosi has devoted much of his energy to initiating and leading a highly successful effort to develop the first generation of highperformance, physics- based, predictive models of the Sun-Earth space environment. He has led an interdisciplinary team that developed the first solution adaptive global magnetohydrodynamic model of space plasmas. This model has become the dominant workhorse for Space Weather simulations at the Community Coordinated Modeling Center.

Professor Gombosi also led his team to the creation of the BATS-R-US grid-adaptive extended magnetohydrodynamic model, a powerful and versatile numerical tool used to model the global geospace environment, the heliosphere, the solar interior and planetary magnetospheres, allowing for a smoothly unified simulation of the entire Sun to Earth space system.

Subsequently, Professor Gombosi's group developed the Space Weather Modeling Framework, a powerful computational tool that enables the space physics community to couple together a chain of models and describe the complex Sun-Earth system. This tool has been recently transitioned to NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center and started operational Space Weather forecasting on October 1, 2016. The computational methods and simulation tools developed under the leadership of Professor Gombosi revolutionized the modeling of our space environment, put his group at the University of Michigan at the forefront of Space Weather research, and provided a vital contribution towards forecasting and mitigating the adverse Space Weather effects on technology and society.

About Professor Hermann J Opgenoorth

Professor Hermann J Opgenoorth is one of the major founders and leaders of the discipline of Space Weather in Europe through both his leading and important scientific research as well as his many and varied contributions to the organisation of Space Weather activities internationally.

Scientifically, Professor Hermann J Opgenoorth performed precursor research with multi- instrument arrays in the 1980s and 1990s and lead the co-ordination of such arrays in support of ESA’s cornerstone mission, Cluster. His contributions to our understanding of the substorm current wedge in substorms and the three dimensional nature of this fundamental structure in geomagnetic tail dynamics paved the way to a full branch of space weather. During this work he established the first international and fully co-ordinated multi-instrument array in Scandinavia (MIRACLE), which still flourishes, and is absolutely central in many respects to European Space Weather activities to this day.

The number of international programs that Professor Hermann J.Opgenoorth has chaired or supported is so large that it is difficult to list them all without forgetting one: examples include the Cluster Ground Based Working Group, THEMIS, SuperDARN, SuperMAG, GLORIA, etc. Indeed the Cluster Ground Based Working Group is still being used as a model for how to develop space and ground co-ordinated and collaborative research, e.g. with the planned ESA and China mission, SMILE. Professor Hermann J Opgenoorth began his scientific administrative roles as the Senior Advisor for the co-ordination of solar and solar terrestrial missions at ESA, followed by the Director of solar and solar terrestrial missions, and finally Director for solar system missions. In this role, he was a founding Chair of the International Living With a Star (ILWS) programme and then the ESA representative on the ILWS Steering Committee.

Today, Professor Hermann J Opgenoorth is co-chair of the COSPAR ILWS Space Weather group, an influential member of the Expert Group on Space Weather (United Nations’ Committee on peaceful Use of Outer Space) and has created recently the ESF/ESSC Space Weather Assessment and Consolidation Working Group, of which he is a co-chair.

Professor Hermann J Opgenoorth has maintained a world-leading scientific activity in parallel to his international duties. In particular, he has been successful in getting a European project funded on Extreme Space Weather at a Swedish National Contingency Agency involving the Institute of Solar Physics, Stockholm University, the IRF-Uppsala and the Swedish Defence Research Agency, FOI. His contributions have been recognised by among other things the award of International Fellowship status of the Royal Astronomical Society as well as Honorary Professor at the University of Leicester.

About Dr. Christina Kay

Dr. Christina Kay of the Catholic University of America and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is the recipient of this year’s Alexander Chizhevsky Medal. The medal is awarded to a young researcher for outstanding achievements in space weather or space climate with an innovative approach.

Dr. Kay is receiving this medal in recognition of several accomplishments. She has developed and implemented innovative models to improve the forecast of coronal mass ejection impacts, starting with their early propagation in the lower solar corona, extending out to their detection in the solar wind. These are described in a series of well-known papers. However, she also recognized the importance of validation and characterization of a model to make it operational, so that it can be used by forecasters. For this purpose, she spearheaded efforts to implement and test these new space weather model forecasting technologies.

Another of Dr. Kay’s contributions is her investigations into the role of CME impacts affecting exoplanets. Just as coronal mass ejections affect planets in our own solar system, there is a growing respect for the role of space weather in determining habitability in other planetary systems.

It is noteworthy that space weather and exoplanet studies continue the legacy of Alexander Chizhevsky. As the founder of the field of “heliobiology,” Chizhevsky dedicated much of his researchtounderstandingtheimpactoftheSunonEarthandbiologicalsystems. Thereisno doubt that he would have been fascinated by the new exoplanet studies, as we attempt to extend our knowledge of solar space weather to understand the implications for life in other star systems.

About the medal winners, pdf

Previous Winners

2017 - Dr. Bojan Vršnak, Prof. Ji Wu and Dr. Elena Popova
2016 - Dr. Antti Pulkkinen, Prof. Mike Hapgood and Dr. Julia Thalmann
2015 - Dr. Werner Schmutz, Dr. Christine Amory Mazaudier, Dr. David Berghmans and Dr. Tatiana Podladchikova.
2014 - Prof. Bodo W. Reinisch, Dr. Joseph Davilaand and Dr. Christina Plainaki.
2013 - Dr. Dieter Bilitza, Dr. Hans Haubold and Dr. Gaël Cessateur.

About the medals

The Kristian Birkeland Medal
The recipient of the Kristian Birkeland Medal must have demonstrated a unique ability to combine basic and applied research to develop useful space weather or space climate products that are being used outside the research community, and/or across scientific research disciplines. The work must have led to a better physical comprehension of the solar-terrestrial phenomena related to space weather and space climate, to a drastic improvement of space weather and space climate modeling, or to a new generation of instruments.
The Baron Marcel Nicolet Medal
The recipient of the Baron Marcel Nicolet Medal must have demonstrated a unique ability to bind the space weather and space climate community in a spirit of peace and friendship, to educate within the space weather and space climate community, to go also beyond the space weather and space climate research community and address larger audiences, and/or to serve the space weather and the space climate.
The Alexander Chizhevsky Medal
The prize rewards a young researcher (younger than 35 years, or having successfully defended her/his thesis within the last 6 years prior to the ESWW2018, i.e. after October 30th, 2012) for outstanding achievements in space weather or space climate with an innovative approach. The six-years period is increased with the duration of any parental leave taken during the period.

Composition of the Medal Committee

Prof. Jean-Marie Frere, the Royal Academy of Belgium,
Executive director Øyyvind Søyrensen of the Norwegian Academy of Science,
Dr. Galina Kotova, Russian Academy of Science
Prof. Jøran Moen, Norway
Prof. Véronique Dehant, the Royal Academy of Belgium,
Prof. Anatoli Petrukovich, Russia
Prof. Vladimir Kalegaev, Russia
Chair of the ESWW Programme committee, M. Messerotti
Head of STCE, primary sponsor of ESWW, R. Van der Linden
Chair of the Local Organizing Committee of the ESWW & Head of the ESA Space Weather Working Team , S. Poedts
Journal of Space Weather and Space Climate , A. Belehaki

The following previous winners are also members of the medal committee:
Prof. Werner Schmutz, Dr. Christine Amory Mazaudier and Dr. Tatiana Podladchikova : in the Committee in 2016 – 2018
Dr. Antti Pulkkinen, Dr. Mike Hapgood, Dr. Julia Thalmann: in the Committee in 2017 – 2019
Dr. Bojan Vrsnak, Prof. Ji Wu, Dr. Elena Popova: in the Committee in 2018 – 2020
The Medal Committee is chaired by Dr. Jean Lilensten.

Kristian Birkeland

Olaf Kristian Bernhard Birkeland was born in Oslo, Norway, on December 13, 1867 and died in Tokyo on June 15, 1917. He was appointed professor of physics at The Royal Frederik University in Kristiania, near the end of the 19th century.
His life spans a watershed period when insights about electricity and magnetism, codified by Maxwell in the mid-19th century, evolved from theoretical curiosities to become the basis for modern electronic technology as well as our understanding of the geospace environment.
His mathematical training provided a superb foundation for developing the first general solution of Maxwell's equations and energy transfer in 1895, by means of electromagnetic waves. He continued to investigate the properties of electromagnetic waves in conductors and wave propagation through space. From 1895 to 1917 his basic-science research focused on geomagnetic disturbances, auroras, solar-terrestrial relations and cosmology.
Birkeland was gifted with a wonderfully inventive mind that bubbled with ideas and sought to investigate any and all aspects of the physical sciences. His main work regarding auroras and geomagnetic disturbances is summarized in The Norwegian Aurora Polaris Expedition 1902-1903; a 801-page monograph.
From 1903 to 1906 Birkeland diverted much of his attention toward applied physics and technological development. His primary motive for engaging in such activities was to generate the funds he needed to support his ambitious research projects and to build a modern research laboratory whose cost greatly exceeded what the University's budget could afford. All together Birkeland developed sixty patents in ten different subject areas. In the field of production of agricultural fertilizers, he earned large sums of money. He invented the plasma arc leading to the Birkeland-Eyde method for industrial nitrogen fixation for synthesizing artificial fertilizers, and the founding of Norsk Hydro that today remains one of Norway's largest industrial enterprises, stands as a living tribute to his genius. Eight nominations for the Nobel Prize, attest to the high esteem in which contemporary scientists regarded Kristian Birkeland.

Alexander Chizhevsky

Alexander Chizhevsky was born in 1897 in the town of Ciechanowiec in the Grodno region of the Russian Empire (now Poland). He was an outstanding interdisciplinary scientist, a biophysicist who founded the "heliobiology" which is the study of the effect of the sun on biology and the "aero-ionization" which is the study of the effects of the ionization of air on biological entities. He was also noted for his work in "cosmobiology", "biological rhythms" and "hematology".He may be most notable for his use of historical research (historiometry) techniques to link the 11 year solar cycle, Earth's climate and the mass activity of peoples.
Chizhevsky is recognized as the founder of Sun-Earth research, having proved that solar activity has an effect on many terrestrial phenomena. Chizhevsky proposed that not only did geomagnetic storms resulting from sunspot-related solar flares affect electrical usage, plane crashes, epidemics and grasshopper infestations, but human mental life and activity. Chizhevsky proposed that the eleven-year peaks influence human history in sunspot activity, triggering humans en masse to act upon existing grievances and complaints through revolts, revolutions, civil wars and wars between nations.
Chizhevsky's ideas were not in line with Soviet ideology; in 1942 he was arrested and spent eight years in Gulag. In 1950 he was allowed to live peacefully in Karaganda, but was rehabilitated only in 1958.
Chizhevsky was also a marked landscape painter and the author of hundreds of poems. Chizhevsky died in Moscow in 1964. An "In memoriam" in the International Journal of Biometeorology stated that he had "carved new paths and approaches to the vast expanse of unexplored fields." He is buried in Pyatnickoe cemetery in Moscow with a headstone featuring an engraved carving representing the sun. The Chizhevsky Science Memorial Cultural Center opened in Kaluga, Russia in 2000 in the home where Chizhevsky lived and worked for nearly 15 years. In December 2012 a monument to A. Chizhevsky was built in Kaluga also. More information is available on wikipedia.

Baron Marcel Nicolet

Marcel Nicolet (1912 - 1996) was a Belgian geophysicist and astrophysicist, specialized in solar ultraviolet radiation and stratospheric chemistry, who played an essential role at the birth of space aeronomy.
Amongst his most remarkable scientific achievements, we cite the explanation, on a purely theoretical basis, of the ionospheric D-region formation process. He postulated that the solar radiation in the hydrogen Lyman-alpha wave length could penetrate into the Earth’s mesosphere, leading to the ionization of nitrogen oxide. He was also the first person to clarify the effect of atmospheric drag acting upon the first man-made satellites orbiting the Earth. He played a decisive role in the determination of photo-dissociation and photo-ionization in the atmosphere, predicting the presence of a belt of helium around the Earth and of the presence of NO, NO2, HNO3, HO2 and H2O2 in the atmosphere before any of these were measured. For these achievements he was bestowed with the Bowie medal, one of the highest distinctions of the American Geophysical Union, after having received already several other scientific distinctions.
Marcel Nicolet was one of the founders of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) of the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU). He participated in the creation of the Commission préparatoire d'Etudes et de Recherches Spatiales (COPERS) that afterwards led to the foundation of the European Space Research Organisation (ESRO) and the European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO), forerunners of the European Space Agency.
He was one of the main promoters of the International Geophysical Year and became its secretary general.
In his home country Belgium, Marcel Nicolet was the founder of the Belgian Institute of Space Aeronomy in 1964. He was a member of the Royal Academy of Belgium and professor at the Universities of Liège (ULg) and Brussels (ULB). He received the title of Baron in 1987.