International Space Weather And Space Climate Medals

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, Russia. The medal committee gathers colleagues from many more countries, such as the USA, China, Japan and other from the EU. Medal recipients’ work must have been documented in peer review journals or book chapters, or must be a technological contribution that has led to a fully implemented new space weather capability. Medal recipients’ work must be relevant to space weather and/or space climate. The work must also be internationally recognized.

In addition to the above common criteria, there are the following specific requirements for each of the three 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 ... read more

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 more

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) for outstanding achievements in space weather or space climate ... read more

More awards may be envisionned in the future. As long as the Award Committee only handles the Birkeland, Chizhevsky, and Nicolet medals, it is formed by :

The Chairperson of the Award Committee

The “academic Award committee”, composed of one or two academicians of the Royal Academy of Belgium, one or two representatives of Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and one or two representatives of Russian Academy of Science.

The scientific Award committee, composed of: One or two Belgium scientist(s) are nominated each year by the Royal Academy of Belgium, one or two Norwegian scientist(s) are nominated by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and one or two scientist(s) are nominated by the Russian Academy of Science. The duration of their mandate is decided by the 3 academies independently

The chair of the European Space Weather Week (ESWW) Program committee or one of its representatives nominated each year by the ESWW Program committee

The chair of the Space Weather Working Team (SWWT) or one of its representatives nominated each year by the SWWT

One Editor of the Journal of Space Weather and Space Climate (JSWSC) nominated each year by the JSWSC directorate and

The winners of the 3 previous years are invited to participate to the medal committee

Awards current winners

The Kristian Birkeland Medal
Pr. Shibata

Prof. Shibata is a world-renowned solar physicist. He has published more than 300 papers in refereed journals. That have been cited more than 20,000 times. Professor Shibata has contributed a lot international collaborations... read more

The Baron Marcel Nicolet Medal
Dr Kusnetsova

Dr Kusnetsova is probably one of the best-known space weather scientists in the world, through her unique activity in founding, maintaining and constantly developing the famous Community Coordinated Modelling Center ... read more

The Alexander Chizhevsky Medal
Dr. Martin Reiss

After receiving his master's degree in theoretical and computational physics in January 2014 with distinction, Dr Reiss started his doctoral study of natural sciences at the University of Graz (Austria). A few months later ... read more

About the scientists behind the medals

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.

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.

Medal Committee Composition

In 2021, the Composition of the Medal Committee was:

The representatives of the Academies:

Simone Gutt, the Royal Academy of Belgium,

Øyvind Sørensen of The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters,

Dr. Galina Kotova, of the Russian Academy of Science.

The scientific Medal committee composed of

Prof. Mats Carlsson, Dr. Pål Brekke, Norway

Prof. Anatoli Petrukovich and Prof. Vladimir Kalegaev, Russia

The chair of the ESWW Organizing committee (Mario M. Bisi), Member of the ESWW PC Workgroup for the International Space Weather Medals (R. Van der Linden), the head of the ESA Space Weather Working Team and vice-chair of the medal committee (S. Poedts) and of the Journal of Space Weather and Space Climate (A. Belehaki).

The following previous winners:

Tamas Gombosi, Hermann Opgenoorth, Christina Kay : in the Committee in 2019 – 2021

Bruce T. Tsurutani, Delores Knipp, Jiajia Liu : in the Committee in 2020 – 2022

Richard Horne, Madhulika Guhathakurta, Mateja Dumbović : in the Committee in 2021 – 2023

Chair of the medal committee:

Andrea Opitz