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Scientific aims of the team

In recent years ‘Space Weather’ has become in one of the ‘hits’ in physical research indexly because of two different motives. On one side, the effects of geomagnetic storms (the most important phenomena in terms of space weather) on telecommunications and technological systems in general justify the increasing development of this research area. On the other hand, satellites are currently gathering data with unprecedented resolution in space and time, which leads to improvements in the scientific knowledge on physical mechanisms involved.

The term ‘weather’ implies somehow that the goal of research should be to forecast, at least, geomagnetic storms in terms of geomagnetic indices as a function of time. Solar activity and its consequences on the interplanetary space turned out to play a crucial role perturbing the Earth's magnetosphere. In this way, the study of space weather’ (or the solar terrestrial relationship) has developed into four major disciplines: solar physics, interplanetary physics, magnetospheric physics and ionospheric physics (aeronomy). This presently used scheme, in which scientists work separately on their own speciality, does not succeed to make correct predictions (less than 40% turn out to be right). To be successful, space weather researchers need to synthesize and integrate the traditional four major disciplines. Although more progress within those disciplines is still needed, such efforts alone cannot accomplish the task of forecasting space weather.

The present project proposal joins scientists with different, but complementary, expertise in the different disciplines previously mentioned. In this way, a more reliable space weather forecasting can be achieved. The international team has expertise in observational solar physics (SOHO), interplanetary and magnetospheric physics (WIND, ACE and ULYSSES), geomagnetic indices and theoretical modelling of solar activity and solar wind. The goal of the present project is to study every stage of the Sun-Earth connection through a joint analysis and interpretation of a wide range of observational data gathered by ground observations and satellites. The results obtained will allow us to evaluate the predictive capabilities of different theoretical models.