AGU Centennial

The American Geophysical Union is turning 100 years old next year. The society has launched a major campaign to celebrate this triple-digit milestone of existence. They even have a nice logo:


Details of the design of this logo are explained here.

There will be special events at both the 2018 and 2019 Fall AGU Meetings, one kicking off the festivities and the other wrapping it up. Note that the 2018 Meeting will be in Washington DC, with tours of the renovated now-net-zero AGU building. One of the big activities going on right now is the AGU Narratives Project, a joint activity with StoryCorps to record conversations about our experiences conducting Earth and space science.

JGR Space Physics is participating in the Centennial in several ways. Firstly, AGU is asking all of the journals to have a series of papers on Grand Challenges in their field. We are working on this. Secondly, we are making plans for a written version of the AGU Narratives project, a collection of papers from the pioneers of space physics. JGR Space Physics actually had a special issue on this exact topic over twenty years ago. There was also a book, a couple years later, entitled, “Discovery of the Magnetosphere.” We will be doing this again. We are also actively taking part in and coordinating with the AGU Centennial celebration planning.

To lead all of this, I have appointed one of the journal editors, Larry Kepko, to be the coordinator of our activities. He has fully embraced this role and is coming up with some good ways to have space physics to be integrally involved in the Centennial celebrations. If you have questions or comments about this, you can contact either him or me.

To make time for this, Dr. Kepko is pulling back a bit from the normal duties of being assigned “regular” submissions to the journal. I will still be assigning him a few papers, but far less than before. So, when you submit a manuscript, you can still request him as your preferred editor, but there is less chance that I will assign it to him because I am intentionally keeping his manuscript workload down.

This new role for Dr. Kepko, combined with a slowly increasing number of manuscript submissions over the years, is the need for adding two new editors to the JGR Space Physics board. The announced application deadline was yesterday (February 23), but you can still submit for a couple more days. I am off to the Editor-in-Chief meeting, which will occupy my time for the first half of next week. So, the deadline is unofficially extended until February 28. On March 1, when I am back in my office, I will start coordinating with the others on the search committee to begin the selection process. So, there is still time to apply for this position. If you have any questions, then please send me an email, or contact any of the current editors.


Annotating Manuscripts with

A few months ago, AGU introduced a new feature in GEMS – annotating the merged PDF of the manuscript. Senior AGU Pubs staff wrote an Eos Editors’ Vox article about it. AGU has partnered with, an online annotation tool, so that reviewers can highlight text and insert comments. Editors can then add additional comments before making a decision about the paper. The comments are labeled “reviewer 1,” “Editor,” etc., so that the author can identify which of the assessors made the remark. During the revision process, authors can respond to these comments directly in the annotated PDF.


            I have used it a couple of times and I have seen ~10 reviewers use it over the last few months. I think it works really well, so it is it time to publicize this feature and make the community aware of this powerful resource.

When you agree to review a manuscript, you will see this new section on the review page:


It’s just below the link to retrieve the paper and the link for submitting your review. When you click on it, you get a new browser window with the manuscript PDF:


This page already has several sections of text highlighted with example comments written. There are controls across the top bar for navigating around the document. When you highlight some text, a small pop-up window appears below it with the word “annotate” in it:


This opens a text box in the right-hand column in which you can type your comment:


The “You” at the top indicates the originator of the comment, then the highlighted text is repeated, and then a box for writing your comment, including rich text features like inserting hyperlinks, images, and LaTeX-based equations. Along the bottom of the text box is a row of buttons for specifying the type of remark you are making. Is it an overview comment? Pick “Summary.” Do you want to designate it as a “major” or “minor” concern? Go for it. Are you suggesting a small English usage correction? Then pick “Edit.” Are you suggesting a new reference or two, or commenting on a figure? Click that button, then. Finally, there is a “Confidential?” button that you can click if the remark is just to the Editor and not meant for the author. I promise to look through the comments and read these.

Back on the main reviewer page, you can actually see if there are annotations on the “annotated merged PDF.” It should appear as a new link, “Show Summary Table,” like this:


When you click on this, all of the comments in the PDF are shown:


Nice, huh?

Note that you still need to click the link on the main reviewer page to complete the review:


You should answer the pull-down-menu questions and fill in any comments you want in the review text box. It is helpful if you, at the least include a sentence like, “Please see my detailed comments in the online annotated PDF.” This reminds the Editor to go to the annotated PDF and see your comments there. It is also helpful to include a short paragraph summary of your review there. In fact, you can make your review a hybrid of the two, with major comments in the review text box and specific comments embedded in the annotated PDF.

In addition to the Eos article and this blog, there are also more detailed author instructions, reviewer instructions, and even editor instructions at the AGU website. The website also has a really good tutorial. Also, one caveat: it is an interactive web-based tool, so you have to be online to use it.

Also, this whole thing is optional. You don’t have to use it. So far, I’d say that most reviewers do not use it. But most reviewers could be using it, so please consider it. Many reviews include line-identified comments, and this new feature should be easier than typing the location coordinates into your review.

New JGR Space Physics Editor Search

We seek two new Editors to join the board of the Journal of Geophysical Research Space Physics. These are additional positions that will expand the editorial board from five to seven. The deadline for application submissions is 23 February 2018.


            Applicants should be dynamic, well-organized, independent-minded, and even-handed scientists with robust knowledge of space physics. As editor you should be committed to further strengthening JGR Space Physics as a leading journal in this field and be proactive in attracting innovative contributions in traditional disciplines and in emerging areas. Applicants from all fields of space physics across the journal’s full aims and scope are welcome.

Editors have several job duties. First and foremost is handling the reviewer assignments and decisions for manuscripts submitted to the journal. You could also be called upon for consultation about manuscripts assigned to other editors. There is an expectation of promoting the journal, especially at conferences you attend, and helping to write highlights of selected papers published in the journal. We hold regular teleconferences throughout the year, as well as a full editorial board meeting at the Fall AGU Meeting, to discuss management and strategic goals of the journal. The expected time commitment of a JGR Space Physics editor is ~5 hours per week.

The term for these new editors would be 4 years with a flexible start date soon after selection. This term extends past the end date of the other editors, creating a bridge to the next Editor in Chief and board. Questions regarding the scope of work and editorial philosophy should contact me. AGU has written guidelines to editors. The search committee is committed to diversity and highly encourages women and minorities to apply. The journal serves a world-wide community of space physics researchers and international applicants are welcome.

If you would like to be considered for one of these Editor positions with JGR Space Physics, please send your curriculum vitae with a letter of interest via email to If you would like to nominate a highly qualified colleague, then please send a letter of recommendation to the same email address. Please make sure that you specify “JGR Space Physics Editor Search” in the subject line of the email.

      Review of applications will begin immediately after the submission deadline. Again, the deadline for applications is 23 February 2018.

Top-10 Papers of 2007

Here is one more post in this set of three with my lists of top papers from past years of JGR Space Physics. Here is the list for 2007; so, ~10 year-old papers. As a final reminder, these citation counts listed below were taken from Web of Science on December 30, 2017.

The list of Top-10 Most Cited Papers published in 2007 in JGR Space Physics:

  1. Summers, D., et al., Timescales for radiation belt electron acceleration and loss due to resonant wave-particle interactions: 2. Evaluation for VLF chorus, ELF hiss, and electromagnetic ion cyclotron waves, 310 citations
  2. Zhang, J., et al., Solar and interplanetary sources of major geomagnetic storms (Dst <= -100 nT) during 1996-2005, 267 citations (note: has a correction)
  3. Newell, P. T., et al., A nearly universal solar wind-magnetosphere coupling function inferred from 10 magnetospheric state variables, 232 citations
  4. Li, W., et al., Dynamic evolution of energetic outer zone electrons due to wave-particle interactions during storms, 214 citations
  5. Summers, D., Timescales for radiation belt electron acceleration and loss due to resonant wave-particle interactions: 1. Theory, 183 citations
  6. Lei, J., Comparison of COSMIC ionospheric measurements with ground-based observations and model predictions: Preliminary results, 167 citations
  7. Vadas, S. L., Horizontal and vertical propagation and dissipation of gravity waves in the thermosphere from lower atmospheric and thermospheric sources, 146 citations
  8. Meredith, N. P., et al., Slot region electron loss timescales due to plasmaspheric hiss and lightning-generated whistlers, 128 citations
  9. Omura, Y., et al., Relativistic turning acceleration of resonant electrons by coherent whistler mode waves in a dipole magnetic field, 118 citations
  10. Fejer, B. G., et al., Equatorial ionospheric electric fields during the November 2004 magnetic storm, 117 citations

For this crew, let’s suggest Totally Awesome stickers:


These are, like last time, from Zazzle.

Again, all of these papers have an average of over 10 citations per year. That’s high for any annual count of any paper in our field, but to sustain it for 10 years, that’s truly phenomenal. These papers, and their authors, deserve special acknowledgment. Congratulations on writing such highly-cited papers!

An interesting thing to point out is the one-two punch of the Summers et al. papers, both making it into this top-10 list. Paper #1 derives the formulas for the timescale analysis of several different combinations of plasma wave and energetic electron characteristics and then Paper #2 applies the specific wave properties for several magnetospheric plasma waves of particular relevance to the radiation belts. Danny and crew had a very good year!

Counting the research topics, I see one solar-heliospheric paper, one techniques paper (the “Paper #1: theory” one just discussed), one solar wind-magnetosphere coupling function study, three ionosphere-thermosphere papers, and 4 on radiation belt results. No planetary space environment papers made the top-10 list, but all of the other major disciplines within the journal scope are there.

Top-10 Papers of 2012

I’d like to continue with my lists of top papers from past years of JGR Space Physics. Here is the list for 2012. Again, the citation information used to generate this list was taken from Web of Science on December 30, 2017.

The list of Top-10 Most Cited Papers published in 2012 in JGR Space Physics:

  1. Meredith et al., Global model of lower band and upper band chorus from multiple satellite observations, 95 citations
  2. Usanova et al., THEMIS observations of electromagnetic ion cyclotron wave occurrence: Dependence on AE, SYMH, and solar wind dynamic pressure, 89 citations
  3. Min et al., Global distribution of EMIC waves derived from THEMIS observations, 89 observations
  4. Gjerloev, J. W., The SuperMAG data processing technique, 86 citations
  5. Schrijver, C. J., et al., Estimating the frequency of extremely energetic solar events, based on solar, stellar, lunar, and terrestrial records, 68 citations
  6. Jin, H., et al., Response of migrating tides to the stratospheric sudden warming in 2009 and their effects on the ionosphere studied by a whole atmosphere-ionosphere model GAIA with COSMIC and TIMED/SABER observations, 66 citations
  7. Jia, X., et al., Magnetospheric configuration and dynamics of Saturn’s magnetosphere: A global MHD simulation, 62 citations
  8. Dwyer, J. R., The relativistic feedback discharge model of terrestrial gamma ray flashes, 61 citations
  9. Fu, H. S., et al., Pitch angle distribution of suprathermal electrons behind dipolarization fronts: A statistics overview, 56 citations
  10. Park, J., et al., Effect of sudden stratospheric warming on lunar tidal modulation of the equatorial electrojet, 54 citations

You should go get yourself a Super! sticker:




Remember, all of these papers are only ~5 years old, so these citation numbers indicate a healthy rate of more than 10 per year since publication. That’s very high for our field.

I see one planetary study, one heliospheric, one techniques paper, three ionosphere-thermosphere related, and 4 magnetospheric physics focused papers in the list. So, the studies are distributed across all major themes of the journal’s scope.

That the top 3 are about plasma waves in the magnetosphere is probably not a coincidence; with the launch and commissioning of the Van Allen Probes in late 2012, this topic has become a central focus of the community since then. So, a stating-the-obvious take-away point from these examples: when there will be a flood of papers on a particular topic from a new spaceflight mission, it is perhaps useful to get a pre-mission paper published just before the prime mission phase.

DEI Pledge

As most readers of this blog probably know, JGR Space Physics is a journal of the American Geophysical Union. AGU strives to be a society for Earth and space scientists across the world, but one country is right there in the name…America. In light of recent comments by the President of the United States, I feel compelled to respond with a post. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day here in America, it is a perfect time to push back against racism and other forms of bigotry. I think that silence makes us complicit and I, for one, detest our president’s position.


            When tackling a problem, a diverse workforce brings together many perspectives and makes for a better solution. The USA prides itself on being the world’s melting pot, accepting immigrants from everywhere. A diverse population has helped to make America “Great.” This is exact what the inscription on the Statue of Liberty promotes. Yet, there has always been an undercurrent of racist, bigoted, prejudiced, and/or sexist attitudes in America, with some of the “already privileged” being skeptical and scared of the rise of the “under-privileged.” These feelings are based on ignorance, though. Each time, the rise of an under-privileged group works out well for America. Scientific research, in particular, loves diversity in the workforce.

As a white male of Norwegian descent, I know that I have led a privileged life. I am sure that, who knows how many times, I have benefited from the racism and sexism of others. While I cannot change my past life trajectory, I can steer the future.

So, I pledge to mindfully apply myself towards being a strong supporter of implementing practices at my work and in my daily life that increase diversity, equity, and inclusion. That last phrase is often shortened as DEI. Perhaps you’ve heard that acronym. It’s a good one to know, and I strongly encourage you to adopt a DEI mindset.

For JGR Space Physics authors and reviewers, one way to do this is to practice the Platinum Rule in your interactions with each other and suggest a diverse set of potential reviewers. In the workplace, it can include identifying and confronting Bro Culture and sexist microaggressions. Little by little, we can do a lot.

AGU is working on this too. It has been a strong position of AGU Presidents, and AGU has a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force working right now to review current policy and recommend changes.

            Keep the gates open. Challenge racism, sexism, and bigotry. Promote diversity.

The New AGU Journals App

AGU and Wiley have just released a new mobile device app for AGU journals. I have now downloaded it and surfed around a bit on it. My quick assessment can be summed up by the neighborhood boy in the movie, The Incredibles: “That was totally wicked!

They have had an app for mobile devices since before I became EiC of JGR Space Physics, and it has even undergone some upgrades. This is an extensive redesign. They have integrated all of the individual journal apps into a single app, and my initial experience with it was fantastic. Here is the sample screen shot they provide about it:


See the wheel at the bottom? Spin it to select your journal (or swipe left or right on the screen to move one by one). All of AGU’s 20 journals are there now. They also included Eos content in it, too, so you have full access to AGU news and highlights; it’s the Society News entry in the journal wheel (and in the upper left menu).

The image above is the “small device” layout of the app, i.e., for a phone. Here’s another screen shot, from my tablet, showing the “big device” layout of JGR Space Physics page within the app:


I like it bit better on the bigger device but both versions of the app worked well for me.

The app still has the “roaming” feature, which I find extremely convenient. It means that once you initiate a connection through your institution’s network, you will be “logged in” for full access (whatever your institution has) for the next 3 months. When you first open the app, you will get this screen:


            If you or your institution has a subscription to AGU journals, then click the top button. If you don’t have such access but want to buy it now, then click the second button. If you just want to use the app to read free content (Eos and the Open Access papers in the journals), then click the third button. If you click the first button, then click your method of access, probably either institutional or personal subscription. You will then need to log in to the Wiley Online Library to get access (or create an account, if you have never done this before). A very nice thing about this process is that this roaming set up is now down entirely through the app, at least for me as I configured it this morning. This was not the case before, where we had to use a browser window to go Wiley Online Library to turn on roaming and then go back to the app to complete the roaming connection, all while connected to your institution’s network. You will still have to refresh the roaming every 90 days, which is the inconvenience that we must endure to prevent access fraud and abuse, but this renewal is now much easier.

Once roaming is set up, you can then access AGU journal content through the app as if you were at that subscribing institution, regardless of where you are. This was a powerful feature of the old apps and I am glad that it is still a feature in this new app. I can now log in from home, the coffee shop, or wherever I have wifi access (for my tablet, at least) and read a journal article as if I were in my work office.

I am really looking forward to using this app.


TESS is back! Yes, it has been 3 years since we had the first Triennial Earth-Sun Summit and, in order to keep the name true, it is time for the next one.


The official website of the meeting is here, and abstract submissions are now open, with a deadline of Tuesday, February 20.

TESS is a meeting designed to directly appeal to the readership of JGR Space Physics. Organized as a joint meeting of the AGU’s Space Physics and Aeronomy section and the AAS’ Solar Physics Division, it is a chance for our community to have our own meeting that spans the full range of space sciences within the solar system.

There are a lot of special sessions for TESS-2018. There are sessions focused on the Sun and solar atmosphere, the heliosphere, on geospace and near-Earth space weather, some on planetary space environments, and still others that cut across these “regional” boundaries and focus on a fundamental physical process or universal phenomenon. This last group of sessions seeks to draw together the various sub-field communities. There was a big emphasis on this cross-disciplinary theme for the first TESS meeting, and while the speaker lists were great at that conference, the attendance was relatively small (about 400) compared the full number of researchers in our field (several thousand, counting everyone from around the world). One drawback was that the only pre-arranged special sessions were these cross-disciplinary ones. This time, TESS-2018 has many discipline-specific special sessions already on the schedule, which I hope will excite the community and yield a large attendance at the conference. There will also be plenary session talks every morning, with no concurrent sessions in parallel with them. We’ll all be in the same room together for at least part of the every day.

If you are an organizer of one of these special sessions for TESS, then please think seriously about submitting a proposal to JGR Space Physics to organize a special section. I will probably be checking in with you about this before or after the conference.

The meeting is the last full week of May, with sessions scheduled Monday – Thursday, May 21-24 and an icebreaker on Sunday, May 20. The venue is a nice resort hotel in Leesburg, Virginia, a historic town just northwest of Washington, DC. I plan to attend, at least for the first half and perhaps for the full meeting, depending on family travel plans.

Top-10 Papers of 2015

It’s been suggested to me that I should occasionally use this space to list the “top papers” in JGR Space Physics. I did this once but that was a while ago. As 2017 came to a close (on December 30, to be specific), I surfed to Web Of Science and downloaded the citation information with the “publication name” search term “Journal of Geophysical Research Space Physics.” I did this for papers published in a few selected years: 2015, 2012, and 2007; so, 2, 5, and 10 year-old papers. The 2015 papers will be skewed a bit due to the proportionately large age difference from January 2015 to December 2015, but this is a year included in the Journal Impact Factor, so I thought I’d include it here. Also, not all of the 2017 citations to papers are included in WoS yet, especially from papers published late in the year. Still, these citation values are fairly complete and can provide insight into top papers in these years.

Yeah, this is how I spend my Saturday evenings. Don’t worry about me, though, it didn’t take that long.

I’ll spend a few posts here in January analyzing these citation reports. I won’t go into too much detail, as I know that there is a detailed manuscript on this topic in works. Top 10 lists are good to share, though, as are some basic stats on citations for these specific years.

For this first post, here is the list of Top-10 Most Cited Papers published in 2015 in JGR Space Physics:

  1. Kurth et al, Electron densities inferred from plasma wave spectra obtained by the Waves instrument on Van Allen Probes, 79 citations
  2. Livadiotis, Introduction to the special section on Origins and Properties of Kappa Distributions: Statistical Background and Properties of Kappa Distributions in Space Plasmas, 53 citations
  3. Astafyeva et al., Ionospheric response to the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day storm: A global multi-instrument overview, 50 citations
  4. Saikin et al., The occurrence and wave properties of H+-, He+-, and O+-band EMIC waves observed by the Van Allen Probes, 43 citations
  5. Jaynes et al., Source and seed populations for relativistic electrons: Their roles in radiation belt changes, 39 citations
  6. Li et al., Statistical properties of plasmaspheric hiss derived from Van Allen Probes data and their effects on radiation belt electron dynamics, 35 citations
  7. Saur et al., The search for a subsurface ocean in Ganymede with Hubble Space Telescope observations of its auroral ovals, 33 citations
  8. Engebretson et al., Van Allen probes, NOAA, GOES and ground observations of an intense EMIC wave event extending over 12 h in magnetic local time, 32 citations
  9. Li et al., Upper limit on the inner radiation belt MeV electron intensity, 31 citations
  10. Ni et al., Resonant scattering of outer zone relativistic electrons by multiband EMIC waves and resultant electron loss time scales, 29 citations

These authors all get a gold star for writing a highly-cited paper:


If you need more gold stars, you can buy them for yourself here, where I got the image.

I am not sure if there are any lessons to learn from this list, but it is fun to share it and commend these authors on a job well done. Here are a couple of other tidbits about the list.

The truly surprising one on this list, at least to me, is #2: the special section preface.  Over 50 citations to a preface in just under 3 years is, well, amazing. If you have a look at it, though, then you will quickly realize that it is a tutorial on the topic of Kappa distributions in space plasmas, with 82 references to papers published in a wide range of years, from 1862 to 2014. It’s really a topical review.

Also, 6 of the 10 are about the Earth’s radiation belts or plasma waves relevant to this particle population. This is not surprising given that, in 2015, NASA’s Van Allen Probes mission was just finishing its prime mission phase, with a full scan of local time of data available for analysis. The continued success of this mission’s data set for scientific discovery has propelled radiation belt papers to the top of this list. The top-cited paper (Kurth et al) is not included in this count of 6 but is related to the topic, being a study of the thermal plasma density in Earth’s inner magnetosphere from this same mission. Because the thermal plasma density is a critical controlling factor for plasma waves and wave-particle interactions, it should probably be added to the count, making it 7 of 10. It was a good year for radiation belt papers.

More On Plain Language Summaries

For over a year now, AGU has been including the option of a Plain Language Summary with manuscript submissions to any of its journals. This can be about as long as a regular Abstract to your paper, but should be written so that those outside of space physics can understand it. From the AGU text requirements page, the definition goes like this:

“The plain language summary should be written for a broad audience. It should be free of jargon, acronyms, equations and any technical information that would be unknown to the general public. The purpose is to explain the study to the public. A good summary should state the general problem, what was done, and the result.”

This description should be ingrained in all of us, not just those submitting papers in the near future but also anyone reviewing a manuscript for JGR Space Physics or another AGU journal. Yes, if you are asked to review a paper and it has a Plain Language Summary, then please read it and comment on its quality. This should be considered as an essential part of the review process, just like assessing the Key Points and keywords that the authors have provided for the paper.

AGU now has more information about these Plain Language Summaries to help you write a good one. For me, this advice about creating a Plain Language Summary comes down to the final bullet point: take the time to do it right. This is not something that you should crank out during the GEMS submission process. That not only will just be an initial draft of what it could be but also won’t be vetted by your coauthors. Their name is on the paper too, and the Plain Language Summary is published with the paper, right below the official Abstract, so you should definitely include your coauthors in its creation. Please do not just change a few words from your regular Abstract, but instead write it from scratch and edit it to make it appealing to a nonspecialist audience.

Here is the nice graphic from that webpage, by @JoannaScience:


She did a cartoon for one of my Editors’ Vox articles. This graphic above pretty much sums up how space physics Abstracts are understood by non-space-physicists. Our niche of AGU has to work especially hard at communicating our work to the public; learning how to write a good Plain Language Summary is an excellent start.

AGU has put together a page with some really good Plain Language Summaries. Have a look to see the kind of summary that resonates.

For now, this paragraph is optional, and I have been told that roughly 20% of manuscript submissions include a Plain Language Summary. Writing a good Plain Language Summary, however, greatly increases the chances of your paper being highlighted by AGU in some way. AGU HQ staff read every Plain Language Summary for all accepted papers across all AGU journals. If they come across a good one. At 20%, this is about 5 summaries per day. When they come across a really good one, the paper will, at the very least, receive a social media highlight. They might work with the journal Editor that handled the paper to create an Editors’ Highlight for the paper. Or, it might even be the initial nugget of a Research Spotlight or Editors’ Vox article about the paper. The point is that the paper could be elevated to receive a highlight regardless of what the reviewers and editor thought about its highlight worthiness. If you write a good highlight, then your paper will have an increased chance of receiving special highlight attention from AGU.

While I have not seen stats on whether the various highlighting that AGU does for papers results in more citations, I have seen the stats on page views and full-text downloads, and the link is clear and extremely favorable. Traffic towards the paper is typically greatly enhanced with a highlight. So, it is in your best interest to spend some time on the Plain Language Summary.