Work on the part of the National Science Foundation, NASA, and other agencies have resulted in a large body of knowledge on the characteristic spatial and temporal scales of space weather effects, as well as an embryonic national predictive capability. I will describe the upper atmospheric and solar drivers of space weather, and explore their significance for systems impacts such as geomagnetically induced currents and navigation reliability.
In particular, I will show how recent basic and applied space science community research is leading to the realization that geospace must be treated as a science. Since the first commercial uses of radio waves and wide area power distribution in the late 19th and early 20th century, human society has progressively come to rely on this infrastructure for the smooth functioning of daily life. In particular, continent-scale stable high voltage power transmission systems, point to point and satellite to ground communications links, and global precise navigation systems have all represented transformative technologies.
However, the presence of space weather - naturally induced variations in the plasma environment surrounding the coupled Earth/Sun system - can have significant impacts on these very systems. Geomagnetic disturbances, ionospheric variability, and strong magnetosphere/ionosphere coupling processes induce currents on power grids and provide non-uniform, scintillating radio wave propagation perturbations which seriously degrade information transmission fidelity on radio communications links. Although these space weather effects have always been present and some were historically noted (e.g. auroral displays, sunspots), the pervasive nature of modern technologies has made their impact felt by not only specialists but the general public. Additionally, significant space weather occurs over the heavily populated mid-latitude continental United States - a fact not widely appreciated until quite recently.
Dr. Philip J. Erickson is a Principal Research Scientist at MIT Haystack Observatory's Atmospheric Sciences Group with more than 15 years of experience in basic and applied space weather, atmospheric physics, signal processing, and radio physics research. He is one of the principal investigators and software radar implementers for the high power large aperture Millstone Hill ionospheric radar system, a National Science Foundation sponsored Upper Atmosphere Facility which uses the powerful technique of Thomson or incoherent scatter to provide ionospheric and neutral atmospheric diagnostics across the entire eastern continental United States. Dr. Erickson also helps lead MIT Haystack's extensive education and public outreach effort with general public and K-12 programs as well as new media approaches. He is the author or co-author of more than 20 refereed scientific journal articles, and currently serves on space science and atmospheric physics committees for NSF, NASA, and the International Radio Science Union (URSI). Dr. Erickson holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and a PhD in space plasma physics from Cornell University.
The meeting will be held at Olin College in Needham, MA. The presentation will start at 6:30PM. A brief Boston Chapter PES Meeting will precede the presentation. For further information please call Ron Tabroff at 978-535-2815 or e-mail Ron at email@example.com. Directions to Olin College: Take Route 95/128 to exit 19B (Highland Avenue, Needham). Follow Highland Avenue for 1.5 miles to a three-way intersection with Chapel and May Streets; bear slight right onto Chapel Street (to the right of the gas station). Take a right at the first light onto Great Plain Avenue/Rte 135. Proceed on Great Plain Avenue for 1.5 miles and the Olin College campus will be on the right. Enter the campus at "Olin Way" and follow the road around to the left to parking lot A, which provides access to all campus buildings. The meeting is being held at the Auditorium at Milas Hall.