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Waves, Particles, and Storms in Geospace: A Complex Interplay

Balasis Waves, Particles, and Storms in Geospace: A Complex InterplaySince the almost simultaneous discovery over sixty years ago of Earth’s radiation belts by Soviet and US scientists, our understanding of the belts’ processes has increased manifold. The aim of this volume is to present an overview of the current understanding of the dynamics of the belts, and how wave and particle interactions are influenced by the Solar Wind.

This is not an introductory book, and neither does it claim to be. It incorporates the latest discoveries based on data gathered by the twin Van Allen probes launched in 2012. I freely admit that despite my solid grounding in physics and basic understanding of space physics, I struggled. On the other hand, the book is fascinating and richly rewards the persistent.

When I studied at the Swedish Institute for Space Physics in 1989, radiation belts were still thought to be relatively stable. After reading this volume, I now know that the region of Earth’s radiation belts is highly dynamic—temporary belts even form during magnetic storms. I also learnt that even though the most important processes in Earth’s radiation belts are thought to have been identified, the details of how they interact during solar storms is far from understood. This means that accurate prediction of space weather is still impossible and understanding space weather is important. The Solar Storm of 1859 reportedly set telegraph wires on fire, and the impact of a similar event on our digital society could well be cataclysmic. Even minor magnetic storms can cause charged particles to precipitate into the upper atmosphere, where they can locally deplete the ozone layer, affect weather and, in the long-term, force climate change. Some ultra-low-frequency waves generated by magnetic storms might also have a direct influence on living organisms.

The volume consists of eighteen papers. The first three (plus the introduction) cover an overview of the processes in Earth’s radiation belts and the history of the field of space physics. Thirteen of the following papers cover observational data from the Van Allen, and other probes, as well as current theories of wave-particle interactions. One of the papers presents the current knowledge of the radiation belts of the outer planets.

After finishing the volume, I could only find a few minor flaws: the first is an emphasis on satellite observations, with only one paper covering the contribution of ground-based observations to our understanding of Geospace; the second is the omission of a glossary.

Reviewed by Lars Backstrom

WAVES, PARTICLES, AND STORMS IN GEOSPACE: A COMPLEX INTERPLAY, by Georgios Balasis, Ioannis A. Daglis & Ian R. Mann, 2016. Published by: Oxford University Press 448 pp (hbk) ISBN: 9780198705246 List Price: £85.00 W: