International Space Weather And Space Climate Medals

The E-SWAN Awards Committee is responsible for defining the criteria for the E-SWAN awards, announcing the call for nominations, forming the review panel(s), collecting and reviewing the nominations, as well as deciding the winners of the awards. Finally, the Awards Committee organises the Medal Ceremony that typically takes place at the European Space Weather Week.

Call for medal contest 2024 nominations is now open until 15th July 2024 >>

Since 2013 there are three International Space Weather and Space Climate Medals distributed: Kristian Birkeland, Baron Marcel Nicolet, and Alexander Chizhevsky. Medal recipients’ work must have been documented via publications in peer-reviewed journals or book chapters, or be technological contributions that has led to a fully implemented new Space Weather or Space Climate capability. Medal recipients’ work must be internationally recognized in the field of Space Weather and/or Space Climate.

In addition to the above common criteria, there are the following specific requirements for each of the three medals:



The Kristian Birkeland Medal

The Kristian Birkeland Medal is awarded for outstanding achievements in combining basic and applied research, and in developing essential Space Weather and/or Space Climate products... read more

The Baron Marcel Nicolet Medal

The Baron Marcel Nicolet Medal is awarded for outstanding achievements in educating and serving the Space Weather and Space Climate community, for binding it together more

The Alexander Chizhevsky Medal

The Alexander Chizhevsky Medal is awarded to an early career scientist in recognition of outstanding achievements in Space Weather and Space Climate with an innovative approach ... read more


Awardees in 2023

The Kristian Birkeland Medal
Charles Nickolos Arge

In 1997, Charles Nickolos Arge obtained his PhD at the University of Delaware/Bartol Research Institute on the topic of Astrophysical Magnetic Fields in Partially Ionized Gases. In 1996, he was hired... read more

The Alexander Chizhevsky Medal
Dr. Claudio Cesaroni

Dr. Claudio Cesaroni took his PhD in Geophysics (Ionospheric physics) in 2015 at the University “Alma Mater Studiorum” of Bologna and contributed remarkably to research in ... read more

Previous awardees >>

Composition of the Awards Committee in 2024

Previous winners:

Delores Knipp (2019 Nicolet)
Richard Horne (2020 Birkeland)
Madhulika Guhathakurta (2020 Nicolet)
Mateja Dumbovic (2020 Chizhevsky)
Kazunari Shibata (2021 Birkeland)
Maria Kusnetsova (2021 Nicolet)
Martin A. Reiss (2021 Chizhevsky)
Charles N. Arge (2023 Birkeland): vice-chair
Claudio Cesaroni (2023 Chizhevsky)

Ex-officio members:

Ronald van der Linden: Representative of E-SWAN Executive Board.
Mario M. Bisi: Representative of the ESWW Programme Committee.
Ilya Usoskin: Representative of E-SWAN Publication Committee.

The Awards Committee is chaired by Andrea Opitz.


At the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the European Space Weather Week in 2013, a set of Space Weather and Space Climate medals has been introduced. Over the years, it has become more and more prestigious, involving Ambassadors and Ministers of Science of the winner's countries every year. In a spirit of Peace and Friendship through science worldwide, these medals have been placed under the umbrellas of 3 Academies of Science: Belgium, Norway and Russia. The medal committee gathers colleagues from several countries, such as the USA, China, Japan and from Europe. Learn that the medal committee had to be reorganized in 2022 due to the political situation and no medals could be awarded in that year. Since 2023 the medals are hosted by E-SWAN.

About the scientists behind the medals

Kristian Birkeland

Olaf Kristian Bernhard Birkeland was born in Oslo, Norway, on 13th December 1867 and died in Tokyo on 15th June 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; an 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 one field, the 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 “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 techniques (historiometry) to link the 11-year solar cycle, Earth’s climate and the mass activity of people. 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 in sunspot activity influence human history, triggering humans to act en masse 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 the 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 Alexander Chizhevsky was built in Kaluga as well.

Baron Marcel Nicolet

Baron Marcel Nicolet (1912–1996) was a Belgian geophysicist and astrophysicist, specialized in solar ultraviolet radiation and stratospheric chemistry, who played an essential role in 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 wavelength 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 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'Études 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 a professor at the Universities of Liège and Brussels. He received the title of Baron in 1987.