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U.S. Coordinating Group of SCOSTEP

SCOSTEP Overview

The National Academy of Sciences is the U.S. adhering member of Scientific Committee on Solar Terrestrial Physics (SCOSTEP), an interdisciplinary body of the International Science Council (ISC).

Through its programs, SCOSTEP advances scientific knowledge of solar terrestrial physics (STP), supports a globally-aware and engaged STP community, and promotes the development of early-career STP scientists. SCOSTEP provides the necessary scientific framework for international collaboration and dissemination of the derived scientific knowledge, in collaboration with other ISC bodies.

These bodies include the Committee of Space Research (COSPAR), International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy (IAGA), International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences (IAMAS), International Astronomical Union (IAU), International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG), Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), and the International Union of Radio Science (URSI). SCOSTEP is also a permanent observer at the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS).

For an introduction to SCOSTEP's current VarSITI program, explained in detail below, watch this brief YouTube video on geomagnetic storms and their influence on Earth.

Paulett Liewer Appoiointed U.S. Representative to SCOSTEP
The NAS has appointed Paulett C. Liewer ( to be the U.S. National Adherent Representative to SCOSTEP. She will represent the NAS at SCOSTEP governance meetings.
PreSTo: SCOSTEP’s Scientific Program for 2019-2023
As work on VarSITI concluded, SCOSTEP sought community input and consensus in developing a new scientific program for 2019-2023. Formal and informal discussions were held, and the community was invited to submit white papers. Three topics were emphasized: (1) current status; (2) knowledge gaps, and (3) future directions in observations and modeling to fill those gaps.

The proposed new program, Variability and Predictability of the Solar-Terrestrial Coupling (PreSTo), focuses on the predictability of the Sun-Earth System on timescales from a few hours to centuries. It will look at predictability of (1) space weather on timescales from seconds to days and months, including processes at the Sun, in the heliosphere and in the Earth's magnetosphere, ionosphere, and atmosphere, and (2) sub-seasonal to decadal and centennial variability of the Sun-Earth system, with a special focus on climate impacts, and linking to the World Climate Research Program Grand Challenge on Near-Term Climate Predictions and IPCC assessment. The Context Test, the Events Regions Timescales slide, and the overview slides can be found at

VarSITI: SCOSTEP's Current Scientific Program for 2013-2018 Concludes
SCOSTEP’s scientific program for 2013-2018, Variability of the Sun and Its Terrestrial Impact (VarSITI), reached its planned completion at the end of 2018. VarSITI promoted and facilitated international collaboration in data analysis, modeling, and theory to understand how solar variability affects the Earth. VarSITI had four scientific elements:
  1. Solar Evolution and Extrema (SEE)
  2. International Study of Earth Affecting Solar Transients (ISEST)/MiniMax24
  3. Specification and Prediction of the Coupled Inner-Magnetospheric Environment (SPeCImeN)
  4. Role Of the Sun and the Middle atmosphere/thermosphere/ionosphere In Climate (ROSMIC)

Of the 1,016 VarSITI scientists representing 71 countries, 93 were from the United States. Three of the VarSITI programs had co-leaders from the United States:

  • SEE: Petrus Martens, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
  • ISEST: Jie Zhang, George Mason University; and Nat Gopalswamy, NASA Goddard
  • SPeCIMEN: Jacob Bortnik, University of California, Los Angeles; and Shri Kanekal, NASA Goddard

Information on VarSITI meetings, databases, and publications can be found at A VarSITI Completion Symposium ( was held from June 10--14, 2019, in Sofia, Bulgaria.

SCOSTEP Holds Quadrennial Symposium
SCOSTEP held its 14th Quadrennial Solar-Terrestrial Physics Symposium (STP14) on July 9--13, 2018 at York University in Toronto, Canada. The meeting highlighted the achievements of the VarSITI program and continued planning of SCOSTEP’s next scientific program (2019-2022).  The scientific sessions of the meeting were focused around "the three major chains of physical processes operating in the solar terrestrial domain: (i) the mass chain in the form of plasma and particles emitted from the Sun, (ii) the electromagnetic radiation chain in the form of irradiance and flare emissions, and (iii) the intra-atmospheric chain representing energy flow from the Earth into space.” Many of the presentations can be found on the meeting website at

United Nations/U.S. Workshop on International Space Weather Initiative
The United Nations/United States Workshop on the International Space Weather Initiative was held at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA, on July 31-August 4, 2017.  As noted in SCOSTEP’s Annual Report (1 January – 31 December 2017),  “the workshop marked the 10th anniversary of the International Heliophysical Year (IHY), and addressed future international cooperation in space weather activities linked to the preparations for the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE+50) under its thematic priority 4, ‘International framework for space weather services’.   

The focus of this workshop was on recent advances made in scientific research by utilizing ISWI instrument data in conjunction with space mission data in adding significant new knowledge on space weather phenomena near Earth and interplanetary space. It highlighted achievements made over the past ten years and showcased the worldwide development of science, capacity building, and outreach.  

This workshop led to the:  (i) Creation of an international coordination mechanisms of operational space weather services, including monitoring, forecasting, awareness raising, with the overall goal to protect life, property and critical infrastructure; and (ii) Recommendations for improved collection, exchange and delivery of space weather data, as well as improved operational analysis, modelling and forecasting methods through the promotion of best practices, suggestions of means to improve accuracy, reliability and interoperability.” 

SCOSTEP Visiting Scholar (SVS) Program
SCOSTEP's Visiting Scholar (SVS) Program provides training opportunities for young scientists and graduate students from developing countries. These young scientists work for periods of 1-3 months in well-established solar-terrestrial physics laboratories and organizations. The training helps the young scientists advance their careers and establish valuable networks.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center hosted four of the seven SCOSTEP Visiting Scholars in 2018. These were Ranadeep Sarkar (Udaipur Solar Observatory, India), Suresh Karuppiah (Department of Physics, Arul Anandar College in Madurai, India), Rhorom Rriyatikanto (Space Science Center, National Institute of Aeronautics and Space, Indonesia), and G. Sindhuja (Udaipur Solar Observatory, India). More information can be found at

SCOSTEP Comic Books Raise Public Awareness 
SCOSTEP also sponsors a series of ‘Comic Books’ designed to raise the awareness of the general public, and young people in particular, about issues in solar-terrestrial science. The comic books are available in English, Spanish, and a number of other languages, and can be found at

What are the Polar Regions?!

What are Cosmic Rays?!

What is Global Warming?!

What is the Ozone Hole?!

What is the Solar Wind?!

What is the Aurora?!

What is the Geomagnetic Field?!

What is the Sun-Climate Relationship?!

What is the Upper Atmosphere?!

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 1629773. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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