April 26, 2017 – Research professor Delores Knipp has been selected to give the 2017 CEDAR Prize Lecture. Knipp is receiving the honor for her space weather research “unraveling the physical connection between shock-led interplanetary coronal mass ejections (ICMEs) and the subsequent response in the neutral thermosphere.”
CEDAR, the Coupling, Energetics and Dynamics of Atmospheric Regions program, is a National Science Foundation initiative that provides funding to engineers and scientists investigating the make-up and behavior of the middle and upper atmosphere, which extends 6,000 miles above Earth’s surface. This region where the tenuous atmosphere links to space is also home to orbiting military, communications, and research satellites. Even the low concentrations of atmospheric gases can be significantly impacted by radiation and storms from the sun.
The application of Knipp’s research is in forecasting low orbit satellite drag effects for collision avoidance. She recently received international attention for work showing Earth’s atmosphere consistently counteracts high altitude temperature spikes of hundreds of degrees that are caused by strong solar storms. Building on work of earlier scientists, Knipp and her team of graduate students determined the energy from extreme storms lead to unanticipatedly intense emissions from the trace chemical nitric oxide in the atmosphere, which results in rapid cooling.
Her research also earned wide notice last year for a paper on a 1967 solar storm that nearly took the US to the brink of war.
Multiple peers in the scientific community nominated Knipp for the Prize Lecture. She will deliver it at CEDAR’s Summer Workshop, set for June in Keystone, Colorado.