Job Posting: Secretary 100% (percentage negotiable)

The International Space Science Institute (ISSI) is an Institute of Advanced Studies where scientists from all over the world meet in a multi- and interdisciplinary setting to reach out for new scientific horizons.

To support these activities, ISSI is seeking a

Secretary 100% (percentage negotiable)

 As soon as possible or as agreed

Duties include:

  • Secretarial tasks, including mailings and maintenance of mailing lists
  • Hotel and travel arrangements both for visiting scientists and staff
  • Checking and classification of invoices
  • Preparation of meetings / documentation, writing minutes
  • Correspondence in German / English

We’re looking for someone who is:

Native German speaker with excellent spoken and written English; good French is a plus

  • Skilled in MS Word, Internet and team collaboration tools; knowledge of other programs, especially Access, Powerpoint and Excel, is a plus
  • Willing to work in a small team, but
  • Able to work independently
  • Willing to assist other staff members in administrative matters as needed

We offer:

  • An interesting, challenging international atmosphere
  • A small organization with 15 members
  • Salary commensurate with experience
  • Employment conditions similar to the University of Bern

Job application and usual documents (in German or English) should be sent as a pdf-file by e-mail to

“Planetary Space Weather Science and Solar System Exploration” with Christina Plainaki (Italian Space Agency (ASI), Italy)

In the recent years, thanks to Solar System exploration, our knowledge on the interactions between a planetary body and its local space environment, where perturbations of solar or non-solar origin may occur, has been dramatically increased. Our understanding of the so called planetary space weather science is of paramount importance also for getting clues on similar –in their nature– phenomena that evolve in the circum-terrestrial environment, nevertheless, at different temporal and spatial scales. Moreover, determining the properties of radiation environments inside planetary magnetospheres is one of the key challenges of magnetospheric physics research. At the same time, it allows the design and manufacturing of satellites and payloads that are resistant to hazardous environments. In this talk, the speaker will discuss some examples of space weather science approaches, especially in the context of the Outer Solar System exploration. Moreover, the speaker will try to evidence the role of theoretical and/or data-driven modeling during preparation for upcoming exploration missions and discuss some future perspectives.

Christina Plainaki is a researcher of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) with activity in the fields of circumterrestrial and planetary Space Weather. Her research work is mainly focused on the modelling of the effects of radiation and plasma bombardment on moon icy surfaces, where phenomena such as sputtering and radiolysis generate tenuous atmospheres. She also studies the ion circulation in Ganymede’s mini-magnetosphere and its temporal and spatial variability in the context of planetary space weather. Her work is very relevant to the preparation for future missions in the outer Solar System, to the planning of observations and to the interpretation of both remote sensing and in situ data. She currently participates in different Solar System exploration missions such as the NASA Juno mission, the ESA JUICE mission, and the ESA/JAXA BepiColombo mission. She has written more than 100 scientific peer-reviewed papers (20 as a lead author) and has given numerous invited talks and seminars in international conferences as well as invited lectures in the context of PhD summer schools and courses.

Webinar was recorded on January 26, 2023


Oscillatory Processes in Solar and Stellar Coronae

Volume 76 in the Space Science Series of ISSI 

The volume presents a broad and in-depth overview of recent achievements and the current state of research in magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) oscillatory and wave phenomena in the coronae of the Sun and stars. Major progress in coronal wave studies has been achieved thanks to the combination of high-precision multi-wavelength observations with spaceborne and ground-based facilities, elaborated theory of the interaction of MHD waves with plasma non-uniformities, state-of-the-art numerical simulations, and novel data analysis techniques. It has allowed the research community to reach a new look at the role played by MHD wave processes in the enigmatic phenomena of coronal plasma heating and wind acceleration as well as powerful energy releases such as flares and coronal mass ejections. In addition, the waves are intensively used as natural probes in the remote diagnostics of the coronal plasma parameters and physical processes operating in solar and stellar coronae via the method of MHD seismology. Individual chapters cover recent cutting-edge results obtained on the analysis and theoretical modelling of several most intensively studied coronal MHD wave phenomena, namely, kink and sausage oscillations of coronal loops and other field-aligned plasma structures, plus running and standing slow magnetoacoustic waves. A dedicated chapter assesses the reliability of proposed theoretical mechanisms for heating of the coronal plasma by MHD waves. Another chapter summarizes the current state of our understanding of the physical mechanisms and observational properties of quasi-periodic pulsations in solar flares, considers their analogy with similar processes detected in stellar flares, and thus establishes solid ground for the further exploitation of the solar-stellar analogy. An important discussion of novel data analysis techniques designed recently for MHD seismology applications is presented in a devoted chapter. The direction of future advances in the designated research areas are discussed.

This volume presents results from a workshop held at the International Space Science Institute in Beijing (ISSI-BJ) on 14–19 October 2019.

This volume is edited by V.M. Nakariakov, D. Banerjee, B. Li, T. Wang, I. Zimovets, M. Falanga and co-published as Topical Collection in Space Science Reviews (partial Open Access) >>

“Satellite Drag Effects on Satellite Operations and Debris in Low Earth Orbit” with Eelco Doornbos (Royal Netherlands Meteorological Office, NL)

Satellites in low Earth orbit travel through the uppermost layer of the neutral atmosphere, where their movement is affected by variations in the density and wind. These variations affect the amount of fuel required by active satellites to fulfil their mission, as well as the duration that debris objects remain in space. The number of objects in low Earth orbit has been rapidly increasing. With it, concerns over the long-term sustainability of the use of this region of space have been on the rise as well. The trend in the number of objects is due to the ever increasing relevance of satellite missions to our society, combined with technological developments such as miniaturisation and the rise of mega-constellations. But also in-orbit breakups of rocket stages and satellites have been major contributors. In this talk, the speaker will provide an overview of the physics and technology related to this topic, as well as the ways in which international collaboration will be essential to provide solutions.

Eelco Doornbos is a space weather scientist at KNMI, the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. He started his career as a researcher at Delft University of Technology, working on the modelling of satellite drag, applied in the precise orbit determination of oceanography satellites. For his PhD, he contributed to algorithms for creating data products on the density and wind in the upper atmosphere from measurements of the motion of satellites. This experience resulted in lead roles in thermosphere data processing projects for the ESA Earth Observation missions GOCE and Swarm. During the same period he also taught MSc level courses in orbital mechanics. In 2019, he moved to KNMI, where he is now working on space weather hazards in a much wider sense, among others by helping to establishing a knowledge center and alerting service for government and vital sectors in the Netherlands.

Webinar was recorded on January 19, 2023

Jean-Pierre Swings (1943–2023)

It is with great sadness that we have learned that Jean-Pierre Swings passed away Monday January 16, 2023, in the afternoon, as a result of respiratory difficulties.

Jean-Pierre Swings

Jean-Pierre Swings was an emeritus professor of astronomy at the University of Liège, Belgium. His scientific research was related to various fields of astrophysics connected to stars, galaxies, gravitational lensing, and space technologies. He was a very active member of important committees related to the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO). He was also essential in the framework of the European Astronomical Society (EAS) and of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), being IAU General Secretary between 1985 and 1988. For quite a few years, he was a very active member of the ISSI Board of Trustees, until he had to step down because of health problems.

ISSI has lost a faithful and pleasant friend.  We shall miss his numerous and varied deep skills, his smile, his humor, his laughter, his joie de vivre, and the pleasure it was to work efficiently with him.

We express our deepest condolences to his wife, children, and his family.

Georges Meylan

On behalf of the ISSI Board of Trustees, Directorate, and Staff

Climate Tipping Points: Earth Observations to Address a Key Climate Uncertainty

Workshop Report Tipping Points and Understanding EO data needs for a Tipping Element Model Intercomparison Project (TipMIP) by Annett Bartsch, Hannah Liddy, Mike Rast, Narelle van der Wel, Richard Wood, Sophie Hebden, Tim Lenton, Victor Brovkin

It’s fair to say that climate tipping points — defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as critical thresholds in a system that, when exceeded, can lead to a significant change in the state of the system — are by now a familiar concept, often used to convey the urgency of addressing climate change. World leaders at the COP27 climate conference of the UNFCCC in Sharm el-Sheik in November 2023 agreed on the need to understand the impact of tipping points on the cryosphere. 

The growing popularity of this concept for motivating climate action also underscores the need for the scientific community to better understand the risks posed by self-reinforcing and difficult-to reverse processes taking place in the climate system. We need to understand the impacts that tipping points will have at different levels of global warming in order to guide mitigation and adaptation efforts. 

The risks gaining particular attention include shifts in the Amazon from rainforest to savannah, a slowing- and potential shutting down of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), ice loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets as well as growing CO2 and CH4 emissions from thawing permafrost. Our best global climate models don’t yet include all potential climate tipping processes. This limits the scientific information available to guide policies to manage the risks to social systems, and we are still a long way from implementing an observing system that can monitor the onset of tipping points. 

Future Earth has been working closely with the World Climate Research Program (WCRP) through the Earth Commission and the AIMES global research network to build the research agenda in this area, hosting a series of webinars focused on different climate tipping elements. One key research activity is to improve climate model representation of tipping elements through a model intercomparison exercise. From the observations side, researchers came together with climate modelers at a Workshop hosted at the International Space Science Institute in Bern, Switzerland in October 2022, supported by the European Space Agency (ESA)-Future Earth joint program.

ISSI Workshop Participants

Animated discussions covered how Earth Observation (EO) together with modeling efforts can support monitoring and process understanding of tipping points and their interactions, climate feedbacks, and abrupt climate change more broadly. The EO and modeling communities have operated somewhat in silos. This workshop illustrated how important it is to get scientists from both communities into one room to understand one another’s challenges and priorities. This is what was achieved in the ISSI Bern Workshop, and it highlighted how exciting it is to examine research questions from observational, modeling and theoretical perspectives.

What is TIPMIP?

Coordinated coupled-model intercomparison projects are a useful approach to assess our understanding of climate processes by providing a standard set of experiments and initialization data that can be run by individual climate modeling centers around the world. The differences in the model outputs create an ensemble of simulated climate behavior that can be used to explore the robustness or uncertainty – both spatially and temporally – of the processes involved.

The ‘TIPMIP’ – TIPping element Model Intercomparison Project initiative, led by Earth Commissioner Ricarda Winkelmann, who is based at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, will outline a set of experiments to explore the sensitivity of tipping behavior in response to rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

There is not a strong quantitative understanding within the climate research community about the drivers or processes involved in triggering climate tipping points, since they often fall into the category of ‘High Impact, but Low Likelihood’ events, and so are seen fairly infrequently in model results. Therefore, the first phase of TIPMIP experiments will take a highly idealized approach that can be easily run by a range of models.

It will begin with a set of experiments that provide a strong forcing of the climate system, with an increase in atmospheric CO2 of 1% per year. In addition, three more experiments will be defined to assess the impacts associated with specific levels of CO2. These experiments will lay the groundwork for understanding climate tipping behaviour and how societal activity can both drive and be impacted by abrupt change.

Earth Observations for Direct Monitoring of Tipping Behavior

The limited temporal extent of the satellite record – spanning 4-5 decades at best – means that direct monitoring of trends and indicators for the onset of tipping points is restricted to ‘fast’ tipping points that occur over decades, that would apply to winter sea ice in the Arctic, the subpolar gyre, the Sahel/Monsoon system, forest dieback – both tropical and boreal, freshwater ecosystems, and Arctic permafrost. The workshop heard of the potential to develop proxy indicators of tipping behavior and instabilities, for example to indicate the triggering of collapse of the Antarctic Ice Sheet.

A major strength of EO is the ability to capture multiple temporal and spatial scales of tipping behavior, from local to regional to global, and from daily to interannual. Across these scales, there is potential for studying feedbacks in the Earth system that can lead to tipping points. There is opportunity to exploit satellite observations of the timing of events, to study extreme events and their impacts – including impacts on society, as well as cascading impacts and pace of change. The workshop identified the value of indicators with multiple variables that combine information from different sources to build a fuller picture of the processes occurring; for example to study the pressures affecting vegetation. It also called for better integration of EO data and platforms to facilitate the detection of tipping events.

Earth Observation for Modeling

EO has a key role to play in improving the ability of climate models to project possible climate futures. Climate models rely on long-term EO datasets like the Essential Climate Variables (ECVs), many of which are based on remote sensing data. ECVs developed by programs like the ESA Climate Change Initiative are used for model development, to assess model skill, (judged by how well models can reproduce past observations) and to constrain models – helping to determine certain parameters, for example, and to set initial conditions of part of the climate system at the start of a model simulation. The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) is an international scientific body that maintains the definitions of the ECVs required for systematic observations of the Earth’s climate. The goal is to help solve research challenges like climate tipping points, and to underpin climate services and adaptation measures.  

Applied to tipping points, there is huge scope to ‘assimilate’ — a statistical approach that brings the model’s outputs closer to the observational data — EO to improve process-based models. For example, ocean color and sea surface temperature data could be used to better constrain biogeochemical or ecosystem processes in ocean ecosystem models to lower the uncertainty of predictions of thresholds and timescales of regime shifts. 

Research Frontiers

Recent wildfire and flooding events have highlighted society’s fragility in the face of worsening climate extremes. Society also faces compound climate extremes whereby multiple hazards occur in the same location, or concurrent extremes occur at different locations. An open question is how extreme events might interplay with tipping points to drive worse impacts on society. Research frontiers will push our current EO datasets and modeling tools into new territory, in combinations that enable an exploration of the interactions between tipping points in the climate and society. 

Through this workshop and other coordinated efforts by Future Earth and WCRP, there will be more opportunities to engage with the tipping point research community and TIPMIP initiative. Recordings of past webinars and information about those upcoming can be accessed here. Moreover, scientific sessions and meetings at EGU in April 2023 will be another opportunity for building bridges across scientific communities to enable us to better characterize the interfaces and identify and constrain the risks posed by tipping points.

This report was orginally published on




Sandra Chapman has been selected as the Johannes Geiss Fellow 2023

The International Space Science Institute ISSI is proud to announce

Prof. Sandra Chapman

(Physics Department, University of Warwick, United Kingdom) as the Johannes Geiss Fellow 2023.


Sandra Chapman, Johannes Geiss Fellow 2023

Sandra Chapman is primarily but not exclusively a plasma physicist working on non-linear and complex systems in astrophysics and in the laboratory. She is Professor of Physics and Director of the Centre for Fusion, Space and Astrophysics at the University of Warwick and Adjunct Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Tromso. She read Physics on an Exhibition Scholarship to Imperial College, London and her interest in nonlinear systems began with her PhD work (also at Imperial College). Her early work was recognised with the COSPAR Zeldovich Medal (commission D) and the EGS Young Scientists’ Medal. She was selected to give the 2014 Royal Astronomical Society James Dungey Lecture and the 2020 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting Ed Lorenz Lecture, was part of a team awarded a 2021 Lloyd’s of London Science of Risk Prize, and has been awarded the 2022 Royal Astronomical Society Chapman Medal. Sandra was a 2017/18 Fulbright-Lloyd’s of London Scholar, a 2003/4 Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Harvard and has also been granted Research Fellowships by the Nuffield Foundation and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. She has published over 200 papers in the refereed literature and a textbook on Electrodynamics. She is also an artist who works to bridge the ‘arts- science divide’ and has held a NESTA Dreamtime fellowship – working as an artist with the British Antarctic Survey in Antarctica.



The Fellowship is named after Prof. Johannes Geiss, the founder of the institute.

ISSI had received excellent proposals from top level scientists from which the selection committee chose the ninth JGF recipient after thorough evaluation. The selection committee consisted of the Directors and the Chair of the ISSI Science Committee.

ISSI is honored by the high interest from the science community in the Johannes Geiss Fellowship and would like to deeply thank all applicants.

ISSI/ISSI-BJ Joint Call for Proposals 2023 for International Teams in Space and Earth Sciences

This call is jointly released by ISSI (International Space Science Institute) in Bern and ISSI–Beijing (ISSI-BJ). ISSI & ISSI-BJ organise the same range of activities and share the same Science Committee. Applicants should indicate clearly whether they are applying for ISSI, ISSI-BJ, or a joint ISSI/ISSI-BJ project. Note that as of this year ISSI is implementing an anonymous peer-review of the science justification section of Team proposals. ISSI expects applicants to fully anonymise their proposals according to our guidelines, esp. when updating resubmissions. 

ISSI and ISSI-BJ invite scientists to submit project proposals for their International Team activity. International Teams are small groups of scientists involved in space research, working together on data analysis, theory and models. This call is open to all scientists, regardless of nationality or institutional affiliation, who are actively involved in any of the following research fields: 

1. Space Sciences: Astrobiology, Astrophysics and Cosmology, Fundamental Physics in Space, Magnetospheric and Space Plasma Physics, Planetary Sciences, Solar and Heliospheric Physics, and Solar-Terrestrial Sciences.

2. Earth Sciences using space data. This includes understanding and modelling Earth system processes, as well as climate change projections. 

Complete Call for Proposals for International Teams in Space and Earth Sciences >>

Proposal Submission Deadline: March 16, 2023 


Submit proposal

“The Shining Earth: The Polar Lights” with Jean Lilensten (Institut de Planétologie et d’Astrophysique de Grenoble, France)

The aurora borealis (to the north, and australis to the south of the Earth) are the most spectacular phenomena of a chain that connects the planet’s upper atmosphere to the solar activity. In this lecture, the speaker addresses the questions they raise: What solar origin ? What interaction between the solar wind and the space environment ? How are they formed? What are they witnessing? Do they exist elsewhere than on Earth? What research is still being done on auroras?

Jean Lilensten is currently senior researcher at the Institut de Planétologie et d’Astrophysique de Grenoble, France. At the beginning of the 90s, the scientific community working on the solar terrestrial relationships, had a relatively circumscribed field of research. Two major evolutions have marked it considerably. The first is space weather which aims at extending the scientific knowledge in order to be able to quantify the solar activity and its impacts on our societies. The second is comparative planetology. In the recent years, these currents seem to join together to form a “planetary space weather”. Jean Lilensten developed his research in both branches, addressing the impact of solar activity on different planets (Earth, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn). Amongst his most recent discoveries are the existence of blue auroras at Mars, and the polarisation of the auroral and nightglow emission at Earth. He published 15 books ranging from space weather to epistemology.

Webinar was recorded on January 12, 2023