Societal impact of space climate

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 5:45 PM
Giovanni Lapenta, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
While space weather traditionally refers to short-term changes in the heliosphere and their prediction, space climate focuses more on long-term changes, on time scales from several months to millennia.

The long-term evolution of solar magnetic fields and solar magnetic activity modifies the solar radiative and particle emissions, thus affecting the properties of the solar wind, the heliospheric magnetic field and the near-Earth environment, including the Earth's atmosphere and climate. Keya mong these aefects is the amount of cosmic rays arriving on the Earth. Famous hostorical periods, such as the Maunder minimum or the stronger northern lights reported in Ancient Roman times and their link with the Earth climate are much debated.

The dramatic reduction of solar activity during the ongoing solar cycle 24 and the related sudden end of the Modern Grand Maximum of solar activity have given increasing importance to the topics related to space climate. There is evidence for weakening magnetic fields in sunspots, decreasing polar fields and reduction in solar wind density and pressure during the last decennium. As a consequence, geomagnetic activity and magnetic storminess have reduced to more quiet levels during this time. Possible related effects upon the atmosphere and climate are under keen evaluation. We report on the ongoing ativites and debates within the European Commission funded project eHeroes ( related to all aspects of space climate, including studies reporting changes in the solar and near-Earth space environment, and their effects in the atmosphere and climate, as well as evaluations of historical datasets upon which such studies are based.

Work funded by the European Commission.