SUMMARY OF ACTIVITIES OF THE ESF SPECIAL SCIENTIFIC NETWORK
Space Weather and the Earth's Weather: electrodynamic and
charged particle effects on the stratosphere and troposphere was
the topic approved as a Scientific Network by the ESF Executive
Council in the early summer of 1999. Following a most successful
inaugural meeting held at the ESF building in Strasbourg from 2
to 4 December 1999, a new acronym for this interdisciplinary area
was chosen - SPECIAL. SPECIAL stands for Space Processes and
Electrical Changes In Atmospheric Layers.
At the Strasbourg workshop, three groups formed naturally amongst
the 26 people attending, dealing with
The workshop agreed to establish a web site, http://www.sgo.fi/SPECIAL/.
Continuously updated, this web site contains the original
proposal, brief reports on meetings and activities, a list of
references to key papers in the field, etc., and is much
- atmospheric electrodynamics and effects of the global
electric circuit on the troposphere,
- solar wind and energetic charged particle effects on the
- effects of lightning on the middle atmosphere (Schumann
resonances, ULF phenomena and sprites, etc.).
Following this workshop, an article on the purposes of
SPECIAL, with good images of sprites (like upward lightning
discharges to the ionosphere) appeared in the summer 2000 (number
41) issue of ESF Communications, pages 22 to 24. A summary of
this appears in the ESF Annual Report 1999, page 26.
A paper on SPECIAL was presented at the ST-19 session on Space
Weather of the European Geophysical Society annual meeting held
in Nice during April 2000; this paper has been submitted to the
EGS journal Physics and Chemistry of the Earth for
publication. An informal afternoon meeting of those interested in
SPECIAL was also held in Nice. Progress in the areas covered by
the three groups was reviewed, and it was suggested that the
topics should become somewhat more focussed, namely covering
Developments in experiments, theory and modelling were covered.
- the DC, and AC, global atmospheric circuit,
- tropospheric and stratospheric responses to well-observed
space weather events (such as 6 to 10 January 1997), and
statistical studies, and
- sprites and Schumann resonances.
Papers on SPECIAL were also presented at the NATO Space
Weather Summer School held in Crete in the summer of 2000 and at
the Euroconference on The solar cycle and terrestrial climate
held in Tenerife on the Canaries during September 2000.
At the time of writing (October 2000) the programme for the
second SPECIAL workshop to be held at the Max Planck Institute in
Lindau from 8 to 11 November 2000 is being finalised. It is
anticipated that at this meeting with 30 to 35 people present,
the next phase of SPECIAL will be decided upon and appropriate
detailed plans made.
Professor Michael Rycroft, Chairman SPECIAL Coordination