Call for nominations:

International Space Weather and Space Climate Medals 2024

Deadline: 15th July 2024 (applications to be sent to medals [at]; see below)

Dear Colleagues,

We are happy to announce the 2024 contest for the three International Space Weather and Space Climate Medals. The medal recipients will be announced during the Medal Ceremony on 4th November 2024 at the European Space Weather Week in Coimbra (Portugal). Each winner will be invited to give a 20-minute lecture about his/her research in a dedicated session on the following day.

All three prizes are prestigious recognitions of the recipients’ major contributions in the field of Space Weather and Space Climate. Medal recipients’ achievements must have been documented via publications in peer-reviewed journals or book chapters, or must be technological contributions that have led to a fully implemented and documented 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 for Space Weather and Space Climate

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 used across scientific disciplines and/or even outside the research community. The work must have led to a better physical comprehension of the solar-terrestrial phenomena, to a crucial improvement of Space Weather and/or Space Climate modelling, or to a new generation of observational techniques or instruments.

The Baron Marcel Nicolet Medal for Space Weather and Space Climate

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 in a spirit of peace and friendship, fostering collaboration and cooperation, and/or for going even beyond the Space Weather and Space Climate research community by engaging larger audiences.

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 and Space Climate with an innovative approach. The nominee must be an early career scientist within eight (8) years of receiving his/her first PhD or an equivalent degree at the time of nomination. This period may be increased for confirmed career breaks (such as periods of sickness, military service, parental leave, and other care duties which took them away from their scientific work).

How to nominate?

In order to nominate a person for one of the International Space Weather and Space Climate Medals, please send one single pdf document which includes:

  • Your full name and professional address.

  • The full name and professional address of the person that you nominate (the nominee).

  • Which of the three medals the nominee is nominated for (only one medal type is allowed for each nominee).

  • Reasons for the nomination (two pages maximum). Please make sure that these reasons should relate to Space Weather and/or Space Climate and fulfill the criteria listed above.

  • A full CV of the nominee (three pages maximum).

  • Letters of support from two colleagues, preferably outside your own or the candidate’s institution. You may also include those two colleagues as co-signatories on the nomination proposal. For the Chizhevsky prize, a recommendation letter from the PhD advisor (in case the PhD supervisor is not the person submitting the nomination) is recommended.

  • Up to five references (journal articles, prizes, patents, etc.) of the nominee’s work.

Self-nominations are not allowed. Any individual can only nominate one person for a medal. Note that the medal committee members cannot nominate or be nominated.

Send the documents by email to:

The deadline for the nominations: 15th July 2024.

Composition of the Medal 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)

Claudio Cesaroni (2023 Chizhevsky)

Ex-officio members:

Ronald van der Linden: Representative of the E-SWAN Executive Board.

Mario M. Bisi: Representative of the ESWW Programme Committee.

Ilya Usoskin: Representative of the E-SWAN Publication Committee.

The Awards Committee is chaired by Andrea Opitz.

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. Altogether 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.

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.

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, and was fully 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.

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