Sue and John Ballard ’55 TT’56 Professorship Inaugural Lecture: Forecasting Space Weather

William Lotko, Sue and John Ballard ’55 TT’56 Professor of Engineering, Thayer School of Engineering

Friday, October 11, 2013, 3:30pm

Spanos Auditorium

This seminar is part of the Jones Seminars on Science, Technology, and Society series.

What is space weather? What causes it? How does it impact people and technological systems? Can it be forecast? How can forecasts be used?

Most weather in space is caused by storms on the Sun that propagate radiation and solar gases toward Earth. Adverse conditions during intense storms pose threats to human activities in space and to the communications, electric power transmission, and satellite systems on which modern society depends. The Holy Grail in forecasting space weather is to observe and follow disturbances as they emerge from the Sun and then use numerical models and multipoint measurements to determine their impact on geospace and at the Earth’s surface. This goal has a long horizon, but its arc is bending toward success through multidisciplinary R&D efforts at Dartmouth and beyond. This first Ballard lecture addresses practical (everyday), exotic (apocryphal), and sublime (unpredictable) aspects of space weather and what we are doing at Dartmouth to enable forecast capabilities.

About the Speaker

William Lotko is best known for work on global geospace dynamics and magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling. His students have recently developed accurate methods for predicting auroral electron precipitation and, using computer simulations, discovered the causes of planetary-scale oscillations in geospace and anomalous upwelling of the thermosphere.

Professor Lotko, while leading NSF's Geospace Environment Modeling Program, partnered with academic, industrial and government scientists to advocate for the creation of a U.S. National Space Weather Program. He is a founding member of the Center for Integrated Space Weather Modeling, an NSF Science and Technology Center, Research Affiliate of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, former editor in chief for the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, and fellow of the American Geophysical Union.

Professor Lotko has served as Director of the M.S./Ph.D. Program at Thayer School, and as Senior Associate Dean and Interim Dean. Among his many educational contributions, he especially enjoys mentoring students in research and in project courses on engineering design, innovation, and invention.