From Eos: “Integrating Research of the Sun-Earth System”

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2 May 2017
Vania K. Jordanova
Joseph E. Borovsky
Valentin T. Jordanov

A rendering of the sunset from space. Attendees at a recent symposium convened to chart new courses in research about the reaction of the Earth system to the Sun and the solar wind. Credit:

Understanding the complex interactions between the magnetic fields of the Sun and Earth remains an important challenge to space physics research. Processes that occur near the Sun at tens of thousands of kilometers from the Earth can generate geomagnetic storms that affect the entire magnetosphere, down to the upper atmosphere.

Solar eruption 2012 by NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory SDO


These storms also threaten the ever more sophisticated technologies that we place into the space environment to sustain us, for example, GPS, the satellites we rely on to monitor our weather, and relays that guide our radio transmissions. Increasingly, we need to develop space weather models that can provide timely and accurate predictions so that we can safeguard our society and the infrastructure we depend on.

Against this backdrop, the third International Symposium on Recent Observations and Simulations of the Sun-Earth System (ISROSES-III) convened in Bulgaria last year to discuss recent advances and chart future developments in space weather research. ISROSES-III built upon the legacy of other similar conferences held in Bulgaria in 2002, 2006, and 2011.

The main purpose of ISROSES-III was to foster interdisciplinary research and collaboration by enhancing communications between the space and Earth sciences communities worldwide. About 100 participants from around the world convened at the symposium to cover a broad range of topics.

These topics included the fundamental physics of how waves and shocks in magnetic fields create dangerous radiation by accelerating particles throughout space. One study at the meeting examined the origin of these particles as measured from geosynchronous orbit.

Another study analyzed the types of magnetic disturbances that lead to geomagnetic storms. Others focused on the structure of Earth’s magnetospheric current systems, improving our understanding of them and how they map to the ionosphere. Yet another detailed an improved representation of magnetospheric electric potential to create more accurate simulations.

The main emphasis of the discussions was on integrating observations, theory, and numerical modeling across different temporal and spatial scales of the coupled Sun-Earth system.

The community also highlighted common misconceptions as well as the need to develop contemporary and innovative technologies in space exploration (Figure 1). In the research community, it is easier to denounce new concepts than express doubt in old, deeply held misconceptions. In contrast, in the market economy, old concepts or misconceptions are constantly abandoned in search for something new. Symposium attendees discussed how the market economy has created new technologies that they should explore and that the research community needs to adopt the flexible mindset of corporations.

Fig. 1. Radiation measurement instrumentation versus consumer technology. (left) In the research community it is easier to denounce new concepts than express doubt in believed old misconceptions. (right) In the market economy, old concepts or misconceptions are constantly abandoned in search for something new. Attendees at a recent symposium on the Sun-Earth system stressed that new ideas brought into focus by the market economy shouldn’t be dismissed and that the research community should adopt the flexible mindset of corporations. Credit: Valentin T. Jordanov

A special issue of the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics is currently being organized to publish papers related to topics discussed at ISROSES-III. Further information about the symposium is available on its official website [link is above].

The main sponsors of the symposium were the Los Alamos National Laboratory Center for Space and Earth Science, the National Science Foundation, and the Scientific Committee on Solar-Terrestrial Physics’s Variability of the Sun and Its Terrestrial Impact (VarSITI) program. ISROSES-III also received collaboration and support locally from the University of Sofia, Bulgaria.

—Vania K. Jordanova (email:, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, N.M.; Joseph E. Borovsky, Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.; and Valentin T. Jordanov, Yantel LLC, Santa Fe, N.M.
Citation: Jordanova, V. K., J. E. Borovsky, and V. T. Jordanov (2017), Integrating research of the Sun-Earth system, Eos, 98, Published on 02 May 2017.

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Eos is the leading source for trustworthy news and perspectives about the Earth and space sciences and their impact. Its namesake is Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn, who represents the light shed on understanding our planet and its environment in space by the Earth and space sciences.