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.



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.

Open Special Sections of JGR-Space

Here’s a public service announcement for the special sections that are open to new submissions at JGR Space Physics right now. If you have an idea for a special section, then please feel free to contact any of the editors and, when you are ready to propose, please fill out the form. There’s nothing quite like a deadline to motivate the community to finalize and write up their findings.


Dayside Magnetosphere Interactions

            Submission deadline: 30 November 2017

This special collection addresses the processes by which solar wind mass, momentum, and energy enter the magnetosphere. Regions of interest include the foreshock, bow shock, magnetosheath, magnetopause, and cusps, the dayside magnetosphere, and both the dayside polar and equatorial ionosphere. Results from spacecraft observations (e.g., MMS, Cluster, Geotail, THEMIS, and Van Allen Probes), ground-based observations (all-sky camera, radar, and magnetometer), MHD, hybrid and PIC simulations are all included. Parallel processes occur at other planets, and recent results from NASA’s MAVEN mission to Mars, as well as ESA’s Mars and Venus Express missions are also included.

Mars Aeronomy

            Submission deadline: 5 January 2018

The Mars upper atmosphere, ionosphere, magnetosphere, and solar-wind interactions are becoming increasingly important for understanding loss of atmosphere to space and the evolution of the Martian climate.  Recent observations have been made from Mars Express over the last decade, from MAVEN for the most-recent Mars year, and from Mars Odyssey, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the Mars Orbiter Mission; landed spacecraft and earlier orbiters also provided valuable information. The International conference on Mars Aeronomy held in May 2017 in Boulder, Co, USA brought together all aspects of Mars aeronomy, including pertinent observations, analyses, theoretical models and results. The proposed special issue will collect the papers presented at the conference as well as will be open to all relevant manuscripts about the Mars upper atmosphere and space environment, even if the authors did not attend the conference. This collection is a joint special section between JGR-Space Physics and JGR-Planets, so the authors can submit manuscripts to either journal. The submission deadline is 5 January 2018.

Science and Exploration of the Moon, Near-Earth Asteroids, and the Moons of Mars

            Submission deadline: 31 January 2018

This special collection, sponsored by NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) invites papers focusing on the science and exploration of the Moon, near-Earth asteroids, and the moons of Mars. We invite contributions covering topics including, but not limited to, geologic investigations, dust/exosphere/plasma environments, surface remote sensing studies, field analog studies, laboratory analyses, and geophysical modeling relevant to the bodies of interest. In addition, we invite contributions focusing on efforts to prepare for future human exploration of these bodies. Special collection submissions can be submitted to JGR-Planets, JGR-Space Physics, Earth and Space Science, or GeoHealth. Potential authors do not need to be members of a SSERVI team to submit a paper to this special collection.

Hurricane Special Session

I am very saddened to hear about the loss of life in Texas, the Caribbean Islands, Puerto Rico, and Florida as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma made landfall this past month. There is also tremendous loss of life in Bangladesh due to the severe flooding happening there. And we can’t forget the huge earthquake off the coast of Central America. I hope that survivors can find a way to make their way through the chaos left behind from these disasters.

We can already be thinking about what to learn from these beasts of nature. Specifically, AGU has created a late-breaking session for the Fall Meeting about these large and devastating hurricanes. Originally, it was just about Hurricane Harvey, but the scope has been expanded to include Irma.


            The first author rule is relaxed for late-breaking sessions. Even if you have submitted one already, you can submit another to this (or any other) session created after the original submission deadline.

Space physics can participate in this session. Storms in the troposphere produce atmospheric gravity waves that break in the lower thermosphere, heating this region and creating ripples in ionospheric density. Sometimes magnetic fields are shaken, creating ULF waves that propagate into the magnetosphere. Harvey is particularly intriguing because it parked itself for such a long time, allowing this energy coupling to influence a particular spot for an unusually long time. There are probably other lower-upper atmospheric connections of interest.

The deadline for this session is October 31, so you have time to do some preliminary analysis before making a decision about an abstract submission.

AGU HQ staff and the journal EiCs are already discussing the possibility of a joint special section about new science findings from these hurricanes. I have no details on that yet but, if you pursue a study on this topic, then please keep an eye out for this special section. Even if it doesn’t materialize, then please consider submitting such papers to an appropriate journal, like Space Weather, Geophysical Research Letters, Radio Science, or JGR Space Physics.

S.141 just passed the Senate!

Perhaps not all of you closely follow the U.S. Congress. Okay, I don’t either. There is one, though, that the readers of JGR Space Physics should know about, and specifically its positive progress that I’d like to celebrate. Yes, some good news from Washington, DC, this past week: the Senate passed by unanimous consent Senate Bill S.141, the “Space Weather Research and Forecast Act”. Tuesday was the momentous day and it has now been referred to several committees in the House of Representatives.


            The full text of the bill essentially dictates, with a bunch of “shalls”, that government agencies should implement the National Space Weather Action Plan and be thinking about space weather influences within their scope of activities, including this:

“(1) BASIC RESEARCH.—The Director of the National Science Foundation, Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Secretary of Defense shall continue to carry out basic research activities on heliophysics, geospace science, and space weather and support competitive, merit-based, peer-reviewed proposals for research, modeling, and monitoring of space weather and its impacts, including science goals outlined in Solar and Space Physics Decadal surveys conducted by the National Academy of Sciences.”

CBO has done a cost estimate for the implementation of this Act, with the biggest item being that NOAA should launch a “SOHO replacement” with a coronograph to image CMEs for space weather prediction. This bill isn’t a budget allocation so it comes with no new money, just mandates to several agencies.

A vote by “unanimous consent” means that they did not actually take a vote, and not even really a voice vote. What it means is that everyone in the chamber at that time agreed enough to not object and demand a real vote. Pretty cool that no Senator opposed this bill, a bill which contains the words “coronal mass ejection” and puts our science front and center. If you want to watch it, then here is the C-SPAN video; go to 1:46 to see Senator Peters talk about space weather on the Senate floor (~10 minutes). It’s nice to know that our field is appreciated by at least a few lawmakers. This is a nice follow-on to AGU’s Earth Day special collection of Commentaries on the societal relevance of Earth and space science. If you haven’t read it yet, then I highly recommend checking out the Cassak et al. article in JGR Space Physics.

Keep up the good work!

The March for Science


The March for Science is tomorrow, April 22, 2017. This is happening on Earth Day 2017, along with many environmental events like local cleanups, tree planting, and park restoration. It’s going to be a big day for getting out and doing something for the planet. Yesterday, AGU released their cross-journal Earth Day Special Collection of Commentaries on the value of science for society, so this is a follow-on to my post on that, discussing something that you can do, this weekend, to help promote science.


            I’m participating in the Ann Arbor satellite version of the March for Science. We’ll meet at the University of Michigan “Diag” at noon, hear some speeches, and then walk a circuitous path through campus and downtown Ann Arbor. Here I am with my sign and my AGU-sanctioned March for Science T-shirt:


Yes, as a sponsor of the March for Science, the organizers made shirts with the AGU logo on the back. Sweet!

I really hope that it will be a good day. As outlined in the Marcher Pledge, the organizers are putting the emphasize on the positive benefits that humanity gets from scientific advancement. In addition, the Principles and Goals page is definitely worth the read and goes into even more detail about the objectives of the march. This is the right place to put the focus. Science does a lot for making life better, plus there is just the cool factor of learning something new about the universe that we, as a species, didn’t know before.

If you couldn’t tell from my sign, I really like that the March for Science takes diversity and inclusion seriously and has even issued a statement reinforcing this position. Science is better when the group tackling a problem comes from a broad range of backgrounds and perspectives. While the institutions where they got their PhD is one form of diversity in the group, this isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m talking about people of different genders, races, ethnicities, religious affiliations, hometowns, home countries, and different personal histories. We need to be inclusive of this wide spectrum of people in our research groups and help each member to fully participate and contribute to the solution. This is something that strive to achieve in my research group and with editing JGR Space Physics. I am glad that this is one of the core principles of the March for Science.

You can still sign up to walk on Saturday, either in DC or at one of the more than 600 other Marches for Science around the world. You don’t have to do this step but it really helps the organizers know what kind of crowd to expect and therefore plan a better event.

Finally, if you were still waffling about whether to go to the March, PHD Comics has a flow chart to help you decide.


Addendum:  here is a picture of me at the March for Science with the final/augmented version of my sign:


Earth Day Special Collection

It’s up! The AGU’s Earth Day Special Collection of Commentaries about the awesomeness of Earth and space science is now available. It is a cross-journal collection, spanning all AGU journals, including JGR Space Physics. Yes, we just published a Commentary (Cassak et al.) on relevance of space physics research to “contemporary society.” I look forward to reading the other articles in this special section, including the Commentary from Ray Greenwald in Radio Science and several Commentaries and other articles from Space Weather.

There is also an Editors’ Vox article, authored by Brooks Hanson, AGU’s Director of Publications, and coauthored by all of the Editors in Chief of AGU’s journals, that summarizes the major themes across the scope of this special collection. An AGU press release was just issued about it, too. Here’s the graphic published with the Vox article:


            Earth is beautiful. Learning new things about Earth, and its home in the universe, is beautiful, too.

Space Weather is the natural home for touting the usefulness of space physics for societal needs, and indeed this journal is where nearly all such news, commentaries, and feature articles can be found. We (the journal editors) decided to solicit at least one article for JGR Space Physics, though, because this special collection is important, being published just before the March for Science. This is also a time when the anti-science movement, which has been around a long time and comes from both the left and the right, is emboldened. We thought it was important for every journal to participate in this special section, including JGR Space Physics.

So, we enlisted the AGU Space Physics and Aeronomy section’s Advocacy Committee to write an article on societal relevance of space physics. If you haven’t heard of this entity, it was created about three and half years ago to lead and coordinate efforts to remind policy makers about the importance of our science. Their charge also includes motivating the rest of the SPA community to get involved in science policy discussions. They were a natural choice for writing a Commentary for this special section.

The “Technical Reports” Paper Type

During our reviewing and publication of the special sections on Measurement Techniques in Solar and Space Physics,


the JGR Space Physics editors sometimes received questions about the appropriateness of “instrument papers” in this journal. The fact is that JGR Space Physics has accepted Technical Reports: Methods and Technical Reports: Data paper types for many years. The fraction of such papers, though, has been small, with most papers in this journal being the Research Article paper type. When we accepted the proposal for the MTSSP special sections, we knew that reviewing the expected ~150 manuscripts on space instrumentation would be a bit different for those receiving the reviews. It’s not a paper type that we normally get, so some in the space physics community were a little confused about this paper type being in this journal.


            I’ve written about the Technical Reports paper type before, but since we’ve reassessed what we want for this paper in JGR Space Physics, it is good to remind the space science community about the expectations for a manuscript in this paper type. The paper must describe a significant original contribution to the field, but this new contribution is the method, technique, or data set. Yes, that’s right: it does not have to include an original contribution to our scientific understanding of the space environment, as is the case for a Research Article paper type. It has to be applicable to scientific study of the space environment, but does not have to actually include such a study.

That said, the manuscript must have these elements:

  1. A section at the beginning why to I need to study the relevant aspect of space physics. You must motivate the publication of this technical advancement in JGR Space Physics by convincing readers that the science area to which it pertains is interesting.
  2. A series of clear statements about the novel elements of the method, technique, or data set. You must place the technical advancement in the context of existing technology or data in order to convince readers that the report contains an original and significant contribution in this area.
  3. A section on what new science is likely to accrue. You must include “at least one illustrative example,” to quote from the paper type description website above. This section closes the gap between the earlier two “must have” sections. That is, given the the current state of scientific discovery in the relevant subdiscipline of space physics and the cutting edge aspects of this new technique or data set, you must then discuss how this new technique will eventually lead to better scientific understanding.

So, authors: if you are writing a Technical Reports manuscript, then please ensure that it includes these three elements.

Also, reviewers: if you are assessing the publishability of a Technical Reports manuscript, please carefully consider these three elements.

AGU has a relatively new journal that is specifically targeted at this manuscript type: Earth and Space Science. Just entering its fourth year, E&SS spans all of AGU’s scientific disciplines, especially requesting papers on “methods, instruments, sensors, data and algorithms” for our field and across the AGU discipline spectrum. I had a recent blog post about signing up for E&SS table of content e-alerts.

A final point to make: Technical Reports paper types are limited to 13 Publication Units rather than the normal 25 for a Research Article paper type. This is to keep the description of the new method, technique, or data set focused. Extra figures and explanation can be put into the online Supplemental Information accompanying the published paper, if needed. You can go over a bit, though and no one should complain or send it back. That is, this limit is not a strict cutoff but is more like a guideline.

Summer 2016 Open Special Sections

Occasionally I post an article here about the open special sections with JGR Space Physics and it’s time I did that again. At the main page for the journal there is a link a little bit down the right-hand column, “Call for Papers”.

There are two or five open special sections right now, depending on how you count them.

“Geospace system responses to the St. Patrick’s Day storms in 2013 and 2015”: March 17 has been an exciting day this solar cycle, with very large geomagnetic storms occurring in both 2013 and 2015. This special section is open to any paper on any aspect of geospace activity during these two storms. Of particular interest to the organizers are coupling across geospace boundaries, especially from the magnetosphere to the ionosphere-thermosphere and down to the mesophere. We even have a special banner logo for it:


The deadline has shifted a month to July 15. This is only a month away, so get writing and get the paper in soon.

“Measurement Techniques in Solar and Space Physics”: in the late 1990s, there was a two-part Geophysical Monograph set on this same topic. It was time to do it again. After a conference in April 2015, the organizers explored options for publishing articles from the presentations. They selected JGR Space Physics. The expectation was ~150 papers across all possible instrumentation methodologies for our field, and so we divided into 4 special sections. One is subtitled “Particles”, another “Fields”, a third one is “Photons”, and a fourth is “Ground-Based and Optical.” We have over 85 submissions (unique papers, not counting revision submissions) and we are expecting quite a few more. The original deadline has past but we have shifted it to allow the remaining papers to come in: it is now August 15. Most of the papers in these 4 special sections are Technical Reports: Methods paper type, which require an original contribution to how we do space physics and a demonstrated applicability to eventually lead to additional understanding of space physics, but the Methods paper itself does not have to include a scientific advancement itself. Also, note that you didn’t have to attend the conference to submit a paper to any of these special sections; everyone with an instrumentation advancement is welcome to write a paper for these collections.

I know that there is at least one proposal in the works for another special section. If you are thinking about it, then please grab the Special Section Proposal Form just a few spots down from “Call for Papers” in the right-hand column of the journal website. Or email me and I’ll send it to you.

Recently Closed Special Sections

To follow on with my last post on open special sections, I wanted to bring them to your attention the special sections of JGR Space Physics that have closed in the past year. A listing of “published” special sections can be found by clicking the “Special Issues” link near the top of the journal homepage. The central column of the Special Issues page gives descriptions and links to those that have recently closed or updated (i.e., a trailing paper finally published). Also on this page is a search mechanism for finding special sections based on their status or designated tags. For instance, clicking the “Accepting Submissions” filter yields “No results available.” This is because, as of today, there are no published papers for any of the five currently open special sections.


In the last 12 months, there have been 6 special sections closed for submissions and either at or nearing full publication of the manuscripts submitted to it. In order of how they appear on the page (as of today), they are:

Pulsating Aurora and Related Magnetospheric Phenomena: covering all aspects of observational, theoretical, and modeling studies of pulsating aurora, one of the major classes of aurora. There are 12 papers in this section.

Low-Frequency Waves In Space Plasmas: includes ground-based as well as satellite observational studies of low-frequency waves, not only in Earth’s magnetosphere but across the solar system. There are 26 papers in this section.

Long‐term Changes and Trends in the Stratosphere, Mesosphere, Thermosphere, and Ionosphere: joint with JGR-Atmospheres, this covers findings and insights on how the middle and upper atmosphere are evolving naturally and due to man-made climate change. There are 10 papers in this section.

Origins and Properties of Kappa Distributions: includes studies on the physical mechanisms leading to kappa distributions in plasma and wave distributions, and the non-equilibrium thermodynamics that describes these populations. There are 19 papers in this section.

Variability of the Sun and Its Terrestrial Impact VarSITI: VarSITI, SCOSTEP’s new international research program, focuses on three big chains in solar-terrestrial relations: (1) the mass chain in the form of plasmas and particles emitted from the Sun, (2) the electromagnetic chain in the form of fields, irradiance (total and spectral) and flare emissions, and (3) the intra-atmospheric chain representing energy flow and coupling. There are 20 papers in this section.

New perspectives on Earth’s radiation belt regions from the prime mission of the Van Allen Probes: includes not only strictly observational papers focused solely on the Van Allen Probes data sets but also comparative mission studies and related theoretical and modeling studies. There are 41 papers in this section.

If any of these subjects interests you, then I highly encourage you to browse these pages and read some of the papers. It’s one-stop shopping for the latest (and greatest!) on that topic.