Dr. Daniel Baker

Dr. Daniel Baker is Director of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado-Boulder and is Distinguished Professor of Planetary and Space Physics, Professor of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, and Professor of Physics there. In 2015 was named Distinguished Professor. His primary research interest is the study of plasma physical and energetic particle phenomena in planetary magnetospheres and in the Earth's vicinity. He conducts research in space instrument design, space physics data analysis, and magnetospheric modeling. Dr. Baker is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the International Academy of Astronautics (IAS), the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the National Academy of Engineering, and has received numerous awards in recognition of his achievements. He has also chaired numerous important panels dealing with various facets of solar-terrestrial physics and space weather. He has served as U.S. delegate to IAGA, as a member of the IAGA Executive Committee, and Chaired the IGY+50 Task Force for IAGA. Dr. Baker's lifetime research has focused on the physics of energetic particles in the narrowest sense, and on solar-planetary coupling from the broadest perspective. Most of his research has involved the interpretation of satellite-based electric field, magnetic field, and particle data, often involving multiple satellites providing linkages between the Sun and the plasma particle population of interest. Thus his research is inherently interdisciplinary between Divisions III and IV, but sometimes also involves Division II.

With over 800 peer-reviewed journal publications it is difficult to capture Dr. Baker's extensive accomplishments in a short letter. A look at Prof. Baker's most highly cited papers where he is first author, or second author with his student as first author, reveals a common theme: the relationship between relativistic electrons in the outer radiation belt and solar and solar wind properties and variability. In this context, he has led the way in clarifying this connection in the following contexts: the neutral-line model of magnetospheric substorms and role of coupling solar wind and IMF; acceleration of relativistic electrons over rapid time scales due to solar wind enhancements, including CMEs; relation between magnetospheric compression by the solar wind and outer-zone electron variability; using solar wind velocity to predict MeV electron radiation belt flux at geostationary orbit; the role of ULF waves in accelerating relativistic electrons; the influences of recurrent high-speed streams from coronal holes on relativistic electrons; attribution of the semiannual variation of MeV electrons at geostationary orbit to the semiannual variation of solar wind velocity; and the long-term effect of precipitating relativistic electrons on stratospheric odd nitrogen levels, which impact ozone content in the middle atmosphere. This single research thrust alone is characterized by significant overlap between the disciplinary coverages of Divisions III, IV and II.

It could be argued that Dr. Baker's most distinct scientific and leadership contributions lie in the subject area of space weather. To be sure the magnetospheric research that he does falls within this realm. What I am referring to here are his scientific contributions that link solar and solar wind variability to space environment variability at Earth, and moreover to their impacts on our society. Refer to the accompanying "list of selected recent publications" for several of his more important contributions in this area. For decades Dr. Baker has been a prominent leader in promoting space weather and its effects, including many aspects and applications outside space physics. In 2006, Baker chaired a committee for the National Research Council that issued a report titled "Space Radiation Hazards and the Vision for Space Exploration," which probed the physical risks and technology obstacles of extended human space journeys. This report was mainly aimed at the risks of solar energetic particle events. He also chaired a 2008 study by the NRC that examined the Economic and Societal Impacts of Space Weather. He has also testified in front of the U.S. Congress about the potential hazards of space weather, and has educated politicians, the general public and students about all aspects of space weather and space weather hazards. His overall contributions to the interdisciplinary subject of space weather have been immense.

His recent paper entitled "A major solar eruptive event in July 2012: Defining extreme space weather scenarios" (Baker et al., Space Weather, 11, 585-591, 2013) is a good example of his multidisciplinary scientific contribution to space weather, while at the same time raising potentially risky but realistic space weather scenarios to policy makers. Baker and his co-authors put forth the July, 2012 event (and its predicted geospace consequences) as one that should be employed to model "worst-case" space weather effects on technological systems such as the electric power grid, in much the same way that planners design for the "100-year flood".

Dr. Baker's space weather research contributions are abundant, highly-cited and impactful. He has played a major role in educating scientists, policy makers and the public world-wide on the basic physics underlying space weather, as well as potential impacts on our 21st-century technologically-dependent society.