Leads New NSF Science Technology Center for Modeling
Space Weather

Boston, MA — The National Science Foundation (NSF)
has named Boston University to lead the Center for Integrated Space
Weather Modeling (CISM), a new $20 million, multi-institutional NSF
Science and Technology Center. The center will create computer models
able to provide advance warning of potentially harmful space weather
events that could put astronauts at risk, disable satellites, disrupt
communications, or cause costly damage on earth. In addition to BU,
the center consists of research groups at seven other universities and
several government and non-profit research organizations and commercial

"Space weather" includes a wide range of phenomena that arise
in space near the earth through the interaction of powerful forces associated
with the sun, the earth, and the constant outward flow of material from
the sun known as the solar wind. Because of global reliance on satellite-based
communications and monitoring systems, continent-wide power grids, and
other technologies like extended pipeline facilities, all of which are
vulnerable to the effects of space weather, understanding the phenomenon
has become as important as understanding monsoons, hurricanes, and El

W. Jeffrey Hughes, director of the new BU center, says that CISM will
focus on the central and most ambitious research goal of the U.S. government’s
National Space Weather Program: building a comprehensive, physics-based
computer model that can accurately simulate the complex, closely interconnected
variables-from explosions on the sun to aurora on the earth and almost
everything in-between-that give rise to the specific manifestations
of space weather.

"Within this goal," Hughes elaborates, "we will not
only do new science, but we will also build a robust and operationally
useful forecasting tool for both civilian and military space weather
forecasters and create novel education programs that will give students
at all levels a better understanding of the geospace environment."

At present no computer model includes all the elements that make up
space weather and not one can reliably predict near-earth phenomena
as few as two days in advance, the goal of the CISM effort. "Current
predictions are based on techniques analogous to those used by meteorologists
50 years ago," says Charles Goodrich, deputy director of CISM.
"We are confident," Goodrich goes on, "that with the
knowledge base and the advanced computer technology now available, we
can create the first integrated predictive space weather model within
the next ten years."

As a first step, the Boston University-led CISM will create a single
comprehensive model by coupling existing sub-models, several of which
have been developed by members of the consortium. This early effort
will be refined over time as it is tested against empirical observations
from many sources, both ground-based-such as CISM-member Stanford’s
Wilcox Solar Observatory-and space-based-such as NASA’s Advanced Composition
Explorer and HESSI (High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager) satellites.
The model will grow and evolve as new knowledge and understanding of
the underlying physics are developed.

The Boston University-led center is one of six new Science and Technology
Centers the NSF has announced it will begin funding this year. NSF established
the Science and Technology Center program in 1987 to fund important
fundamental research efforts that also create educational opportunities,
encourage technology transfer, and provide innovative approaches to
interdisciplinary research challenges. NSF’s support for the Center
for Integrated Space Weather Modeling at Boston University is $20 million
over the next five years, renewable for another five years.

Universities in the BU-led consortium include Alabama A & M, Dartmouth
College, Rice University, Stanford University, the University of California,
Berkeley, the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the University of
Texas at El Paso. Government and industrial members are the National
Center for Atmospheric Research, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric
Administration’s Space Environment Center, Science Applications International
Corporation, the Space Science Institute, and Lockheed Martin Corporation.

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Additional Background:

Space Weather
Impact of Space Weather
Integrated Modeling
CISM Member Institutions
NSF Science and Technology Centers

For More Information, Visit The CISM Website: