Jens Oberheide's paper on 'space weather' won first place in an international contest.

Jens Oberheide’s paper on ‘space weather’ won first place in an international contest.
Image Credit: Clemson University

CLEMSON, South Carolina – Clemson University physicist Jens Oberheide’s collaborative research on “space weather” – which was published in an international journal in 2015 – has since caught fire in the worldwide scientific community.

Oberheide recently received the “Most Accessed Paper Award 2017” in Progress in Earth and Planetary Science (PEPS), which is the journal of the Japanese Geoscience Union. Awards were presented to the top three most accessed papers during 2015-2016. Oberheide’s paper – titled “The geospace response to variable inputs from the lower atmosphere: a review of the progress made by Task Group 4 of CAWSES-II” – won first place.

From 2009-2013, Oberheide led Task Group 4, which was a Climate and Weather of the Sun-Earth System program under the umbrella of the Scientific Committee for Solar-Terrestrial Physics. Oberheide’s group studied the “geospace response to waves generated by meteorological events, their interaction with the mean flow, and their impact on the ionosphere and their relation to competing thermospheric disturbances generated by energy inputs from above, such as auroral processes at high latitudes.”

“I led a task group of more than 100 scientists from more than 20 countries with the objective of laying the scientific foundation for a better understanding of space weather – a task important for a technological society,” said Oberheide, a professor of atmospheric and space physics in the department of physics and astronomy in the College of Science. “The paper summarizes our efforts, and I am glad to see that it got quite a bit of traction.”

Space weather refers to changes in Earth’s space environment due to processes in the atmosphere and geomagnetic storms resulting from eruptions on the sun. Space weather ultimately affects human activities and technologies on Earth and in space. It can disrupt communication and GPS, overload power grids, alter weather patterns on the surface, and impact satellite operations, astronauts and air travel. Predicting space weather and enhancing the national preparedness is thus a high priority for NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense and other federal agencies.

Oberheide’s paper emphasized the “role of gravity waves, planetary waves and tides, and their ionospheric impacts” by explaining how these atmospheric phenomena connect weather on Earth’s surface with space weather. The paper’s international team of co-authors included Kazuo Shiokawa, Subramanian Gurubaran, William E Ward, Hitoshi Fujiwara, Michael J Kosch, Jonathan J Makela and Hisao Takahashi.