The Kristian Birkeland Medal 2016

Dr. Antti Pulkkinen

Dr. Antti Pulkkinen is an internationally recognized scientist for his contribution to the research on geomagnetically induced currents (GICs). His pioneering research has advanced our understanding of the extremes of space weather, especially pertaining to GICs and their effects on power grids. His work is published in more than 85 scientific papers in refereed journals, which have been very highly cited.

Antti represents a rare breed of scientist who is highly respected for his expertise and accomplishments in a wide range of space weather topics, yet is also able to communicate the implications of heliophysics research effectively to engineers, utility managers, policy makers, and government officials. He is currently leading the GSFC’s Space Weather Research Center, a component of the world-renowned Community Coordinated Modelling Center. Under his leadership, the SWRC has thrived and grown in many directions: providing SW environmental awareness to NASA’s robotic missions, educating mission operators about space weather, utilizing real-time simulations from the CCMC to test existing and new methods of forecasting, and running a popular annual “space weather boot camp” attended by international students of all ages.

Perhaps the best example of Antti’s suitability for the Birkeland Medal is his key role in developing science-based standards for mitigating SW impacts on the US electric power grid. His “Solar Shield” is the first comprehensive, physics-based system to simulate the entire chain, thus helping to identify the key physical processes underlying GIC generation. Solar Shield also has been used to assess extreme events, to benchmark numerical SW models, and to transition geospace models into the operational environment at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.