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Yuri Y. Shprits

Yuri Y. Shprits
Yuri Y. Shprits

The 2011 Arne Richter Award for Outstanding Young Scientists is awarded to Yuri Y. Shprits for his outstanding work on the dynamic modelling of the Earth’s Van Allen radiation belts, which allows a better understanding of how particles are accelerated to very high energies.

Yuri Y. Shprits studies electron transport and acceleration in the Earth’s Van Allen radiation belts and has developed large numerical codes to model the relativistic electron flux in these belts. He has shown that while ultra-low frequency (ULF) waves can transport and accelerate electrons inside the radiation belts, they cannot explain increases in the MeV electron flux observed by satellites during geomagnetic storms. In fact, he showed that ULF waves could cause substantial loss of electrons during the main part of the storm via outward transport to the magnetopause. Thus any acceleration process that increases the electron flux must overcome these losses. He went on to show that Whistler Mode waves could increase the relativistic electron flux during storms and demonstrated this via modelling of the exceptional 2003 Halloween geomagnetic storm. This need for an additional electron acceleration mechanism has also been confirmed independently by other groups, using analysis of other satellite data.

Shprits has also been the first to apply data assimilation techniques, which are widely used in atmospheric and ocean physics, to model the radiation belts. He has used data assimilation to confirm that wave-particle interactions are critical for understanding radiation belt dynamics. Yuri’s work provides outstanding results that will be tested by NASA’s RBSP, the Japanese ERG and the Canadian ORBITALS space missions.

But Shprits is also an excellent scientific workshop organizer and session convener, as, for example, the Inner Magnetospheric Coupling Workshop he organized in 2008, or the EGU 2010 session “Dynamic Processes in Planetary Inner Magnetospheres: Radiation Belts, Ring Current, Plasmasphere and Ionosphere”, for which he was the main Convener.

During the last six years Yuri Y. Shprits has authored or co-authored 34 manuscripts and 3 chapters in books. Published papers include also manuscripts in the Nature Publishing Group journals and invited review papers.