President’s Message

It is really an honor for me to serve as the President of SCOSTEP.  I will do my best to serve various SCOSTEP efforts to promote solar terrestrial physics (STP). The scientific field of solar-terrestrial physics is rapidly changing, mainly because of expansion of human activities into space and because of growing interest in Earth’s climate change.  The original scientific interest and knowledge are going to be applied to various applications, as represented by the terminologies of “space weather” (short-term variability) and “space climate” (long-term variability).  In this sense, various efforts have been made in recent years (1) to understand the physical mechanisms that cause the observed phenomena and (2) to predict the phenomena that affects human life.  For this understanding and prediction of the variability of the sun-earth system, the connection from the sun to the earth, and from the earth surface to the middle and upper atmosphere, and to geospace is of essential importance.

Under the International Science Council (ISC), SCOSTEP is the only organization to deal with this sun-earth connection.  I will serve on this point to encourage more communication among scientists in different disciplines and regions from the sun to the earth.  I would like to encourage this communication by operating mailing lists, the website, and newsletters, as well as promoting interdisciplinary symposia, conferences and workshops under SCOSTEP.  The participating bodies of SCOSTEP consist of COSPAR, IAU, IUGG (IAGA and IAMAS), IUPAP, SCAR, URSI, and WDS.  This structure of SCOSTEP also allows coordination of the wide scientific area related to solar-terrestrial physics.  I would like to stimulate collaboration with these participating bodies by promoting joint sessions and symposia.

The uniqueness of SCOSTEP is to launch international / interdisciplinary multi-year programs on the sun-earth relationship, such as CAWSES, CAWSES-II and VarSITI.  This is very different from other participating bodies of SCOSTEP.  Through this program, SCOSTEP can address the changing situation of the solar-terrestrial system, providing a timely platform for the community to work together.  The VarSITI (Variability of the Sun and Its Terrestrial Impact, 2014-2018) focused on the decreasing trend of solar activities and its consequences on earth.  The next program, PRESTO – PREdictability of variable Solar-Terrestrial cOupling, is a timely topic for our community due to the increasing interest on the effect of the variability on human activity in space and on earth’s climate.  This direction will also introduce new possibilities for collaboration with the community of space use and applications.  I think SCOSTEP should encourage such collaboration, for example, with the International Space Weather Initiative (ISWI) of the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) and other bodies related to space use and climate change.

Through my past experiences of field measurements and school organizations in developing countries, I feel that governments in developing countries are gradually understanding the importance of space weather research.  This is due to their increased use of satellite signals for communication and navigation applications with the awareness that ionospheric plasma bubbles can degrade these systems significantly.  Under these circumstances, capacity building activities led by SCOSTEP are getting more important for young scientists in the developing countries.  SCOSTEP will continue to encourage more capacity-building activities, by coordinating/supporting international schools, operating the SCOSTEP visiting scholar (SVS) programs for students and young scientists, and distributing a comic series on solar-terrestrial sciences. 

Finally I would like to point out the importance of database construction and open data policies in solar-terrestrial physics.  Since solar-terrestrial physics deals with global-scale phenomena and relies significantly on remote-sensing and in-situ techniques; international collaboration and exchange of various different types of data are essentially important to understand the physical mechanisms of the phenomena.  In that sense, we encourage development of user-friendly databases and data analysis tools as well as efforts of keeping long-term data quality in collaboration with the World Data System (WDS).  

Kazuo Shiokawa

SCOSTEP President 2019-2022

September 14, 2019