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Why is the sun so weak these days?

Media Advisory from the University of Otago (Embargoed until Monday, January 13)  Why is the sun so weak these days?

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An international programme, that includes a scientist from the University of Otago, is being launched on Monday to understand why this has happened and how it will affect both Earth and the space environment. 

The Scientific Committee on Solar Terrestrial Physics (SCOSTEP) is launching the new scientific programme VarSITI (Variability of the Sun and Its Terrestrial Impact) on Monday (January 13, 2014). Solar-terrestrial scientists from all over the world participate in the VarSITI program. VarSITI is an international interdisciplinary research programme that will run for the next five years.

SCOSTEP is an Interdisciplinary body of the International Council for Science (ICSU).

The ICSU motto is “strengthening international science for the benefit of society”.  

SCOSTEP focuses on the science of Sun-Earth connection relevant to life and society on Earth.  The outcome of VarSITI will contribute to our better understanding of how life and society on Earth is affected by the Sun, including the solar impact upon Earth’s climate change.  This outcome will also be used  to aid the safe and reliable operation of space vehicles, such as navigation and communication satellites. 

Following a successful programme known as CAWSES (Climate and Weather of the Sun-Earth System) that recently ended, the VarSITI programme will focus on the declining phase of solar activity, which is already at its lowest level since the dawn of the space age.

The VarSITI programme was established after a collective effort by the international scientific community over the past year and ensures global cooperation in solar terrestrial research using data, models, and theory developed.  It focuses on four major themes: solar magnetism and extreme events, Earth impacting solar transients, magnetospheric changes, and consequences and processes in Earth’s atmosphere.  In order to progress the themes, four scientific projects headed by international experts have been defined.

The Four Elements of the new programme (VarSITI) are:   * Solar Evolution and Extrema (SEE) * MiniMax24/ISEST * Specification and Prediction of the Coupled Inner-Magnetospheric Environment (SPeCIMEN) Role Of the Sun and the Middle atmosphere/thermosphere/ionosphere In Climate (ROSMIC)


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