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Call for nominations: international space weather and space climate medals

Dear colleagues,

We are happy to announce the 2021 contest for the international space weather and space climate medals. The new medal recipients will be announced in a medal ceremony at the European Space Weather Week, 25th October 2021. The winners will be invited to present a 20 minute lecture during a dedicated session.

All three prizes are prestigious recognitions of recipients’ major contributions in the field of space weather. 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 for Space Weather and Space Climate:

The recipient of the Kristian Birkeland Medal must have demonstrated a unique ability to combine basic and applied research to develop useful space weather products that are being used outside the research community, and/or across scientific research disciplines. The work must have led to a better physical comprehension of the solar-terrestrial phenomena related to space weather, to a drastic improvement of space weather modeling, or to a new generation of instruments.

The Baron Marcel Nicolet Medal for Space Weather and Space Climate:

The recipient of the Baron Marcel Nicolet Medal must have demonstrated a unique ability to bind the space weather community in a spirit of peace and friendship, to educate within the space weather community, to go also beyond the space weather research community and address larger audiences, and/or to serve the space weather.

The Alexander Chizhevsky Medal for Space Weather and Space Climate:

The Alexander Chizhevsky Medal is awarded to an early career scientist in recognition of outstanding achievements in space weather with an innovative approach.  The nominee must be an early career scientist within 8 years of receiving their Ph.D. at the time of nomination.   The period may be increased to include the duration any parental leave after their Ph.D.

How to nominate?

In order to nominate a person for one of the international space weather medals, please send a pdf document including:

  • Your full name (first and last name) and professional address.
  • The full name (first and last name) and professional address of the person that you wish to nominate.
  • Which of the three medals you are nominating the person for.
  • Reasons for the nomination (two pages). Please make sure that these reasons relate to space weather and fulfill the criteria below.
  • A full CV for the nominee.
  • Please include letters of support from two colleagues, preferably outside your own home institution. You may also include those two colleagues as co-signatories on the proposal. For the Chizhevsky prize, a recommendation letter from the PhD advisor (in case (s)he is not the person sending the application) is recommended.
  • Up to five references (journal articles, prizes, patents…).

Self-nominations are not allowed. The medal committee members cannot be nominated or nominate.

You may resubmit a nomination that was previously unsuccessful. Please indicate in your nomination that you wish the committee to reconsider it. You can update the documents or ask the committee to reconsider files already submitted.

Send your documents by email only to The deadline for the nominations is 5th September 2021.

Composition of the Medal Committee:

The representatives of the Academies are:
  • Nicole Gutt, the Royal Academy of Belgium
  • Øyvind Sørensen of the Norwegian Academy of Science
  • Dr. Galina Kotova, of the Russian Academy of Science
The scientific Medal committee is 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

The Medal Committee is chaired by J. Lilensten

Kristian Birkeland

Olaf Kristian Bernhard Birkeland was born in Oslo, Norway, on 13 December 1867 and died in Tokyo on 15 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; 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 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 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. Chizhevsky was built in Kaluga also.

More information is available at

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'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 professor at the Universities of Liège (ULg) and Brussels (ULB). He received the title of Baron in 1987.