Summary of Activities


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

  1. atmospheric electrodynamics and effects of the global electric circuit on the troposphere,
  2. solar wind and energetic charged particle effects on the atmosphere, and
  3. effects of lightning on the middle atmosphere (Schumann resonances, ULF phenomena and sprites, etc.).
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 used.

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

  1. the DC, and AC, global atmospheric circuit,
  2. tropospheric and stratospheric responses to well-observed space weather events (such as 6 to 10 January 1997), and statistical studies, and
  3. sprites and Schumann resonances.
Developments in experiments, theory and modelling were covered.

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 Committee.

Last update: 2000-10-11, 1141 UT, by Th.Ulich, editor [e-mail | homepage].