Eigil Friis-Christensen

Eigil Friis-Christensen

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Eigil Friis-Christensen is an expert in space physics, and Director of the Danish National Space Center
Danish National Space Center
The Danish National Space Center is a Danish sector research Institute and a part of the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. It is located in Copenhagen at Østerbro...



Friis-Christensen received a Magisterkonferens (Ph.D. equivalent) in Geophysics
Geophysics is the physics of the Earth and its environment in space; also the study of the Earth using quantitative physical methods. The term geophysics sometimes refers only to the geological applications: Earth's shape; its gravitational and magnetic fields; its internal structure and...

 from University of Copenhagen
University of Copenhagen
The University of Copenhagen is the oldest and largest university and research institution in Denmark. Founded in 1479, it has more than 37,000 students, the majority of whom are female , and more than 7,000 employees. The university has several campuses located in and around Copenhagen, with the...

 in 1971. In 1972, he was a geophysicist at the Danish Meteorological Institute. His interest in solar activity began in August, in his tent, when he experienced an extreme solar storm:

"I was in Greenland, on my first assignment in my new job as geophysicist at the Danish Meteorological Institute, setting up a chain of magnetometer stations on the west coast... watching ink pens of my recorder going so wild that they nearly tore the paper chart apart -- we had no digital recording at that time -- and I wondered whether such big events could also have an influence in the lower atmosphere, on weather and climate. That storm cut off my contact to the outside world for nine days -- all radio communication was blacked out -- so I had lots of time to reflect on the enormity of the forces at play."

Between 1976 and 1997, he was the Principal Investigator of the Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

A magnetometer is a measuring instrument used to measure the strength or direction of a magnetic field either produced in the laboratory or existing in nature...


Between 1991 and 1997, he was Head of the Solar-Terrestrial Physics Division, Danish Meteorological Institute
Danish Meteorological Institute
The Danish Meteorological Institute is the official Danish meteorological institute, administrated by the Ministry of Transport and Energy. The institute makes weather forecasts and observations for Denmark, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands....

. In 1992, he was also the Project scientist on the first Danish satellite, Ørsted, which was launched February 1999.

He was an Adjunct Professor of geophysics and space physics 1996 to 2006 at the Niels Bohr Institute
Niels Bohr Institute
The Niels Bohr Institute is a research institute of the University of Copenhagen. The research of the institute spans astronomy, geophysics, nanotechnology, particle physics, quantum mechanics and biophysics....

 of University of Copenhagen
University of Copenhagen
The University of Copenhagen is the oldest and largest university and research institution in Denmark. Founded in 1479, it has more than 37,000 students, the majority of whom are female , and more than 7,000 employees. The university has several campuses located in and around Copenhagen, with the...

 and has authored over 140 research articles or books. He lectures worldwide; in 2008 he made a presentation at the U.S. National Institute of Aerospace.

Solar activity and climate change

Friis-Christensen's 1991 paper, "Length of the Solar Cycle: An Indicator of Solar Activity Closely Associated with Climate", published in Science, presented his findings on global warming and sun activity correlation. The New York Times reviewed the Science article on 5 November 1991, stating, "While the correlation established by Dr. Friis-Christensen and Dr. Lassen falls short of definite proof, a number of scientists nevertheless called it remarkable in its close fit between the solar and temperature trends." Subsequent work with updated data has found that the correlation has not stood up.

In 2009, a number of leading experts, including one Nobel laureate, concluded that the graphs of Friis-Christensen and Svensmark showing apparent correlations between global warming, sunspots and cosmic rays were deeply flawed. Friis-Christensen agreed that any correlation between sunspots and global warming that he may have identified in the 1991 study has since broken down. There is, he said, a clear "divergence" between the sunspots and global temperatures after 1986, which shows that the present warming period cannot be explained by solar activity alone.

In 1997, Friis-Christensen and Henrik Svensmark
Henrik Svensmark
Henrik Svensmark is a physicist at the Danish National Space Center in Copenhagen who studies the effects of cosmic rays on cloud formation. His work presents hypotheses about solar activity as an indirect cause of global warming; his research has suggested a possible link through the interaction...

 revived suggestions of a possible link between galactic cosmic rays and global climate change assisted by solar wind
Solar wind
The solar wind is a stream of charged particles ejected from the upper atmosphere of the Sun. It mostly consists of electrons and protons with energies usually between 1.5 and 10 keV. The stream of particles varies in temperature and speed over time...

 intensity variation, which they termed cosmoclimatology. In 2002, he became Lead Investigator of Swarm. Friis-Christensen gave the Birkeland
Kristian Birkeland
Kristian Olaf Birkeland was a Norwegian scientist. He is best remembered as the person who first elucidated the nature of the Aurora borealis. In order to fund his research on the aurorae, he invented the electromagnetic cannon and the Birkeland-Eyde process of fixing nitrogen from the air...

 lecture "Unrest on the sun - storms on the Earth. The magnetic connection" in Oslo on 27 September 2007 .

Awards and honors

  • 1995, "Director Ib Henriksens" research prize.
  • 1995, elected member, executive committee, International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy
    Aeronomy is the science of the upper region of the atmosphere, where dissociation and ionization are important. The term aeronomy was introduced by Sydney Chapman, and the above definition stems from 1960. Today the term also includes the science of the corresponding regions of the atmospheres of...

    , IAGA.
  • 1996, elected Associate of London's Royal Astronomical Society
    Royal Astronomical Society
    The Royal Astronomical Society is a learned society that began as the Astronomical Society of London in 1820 to support astronomical research . It became the Royal Astronomical Society in 1831 on receiving its Royal Charter from William IV...

  • 2003, Vice-President, executive committee, IAGA
  • Appointed member, International Steering Committee, Solar-Terrestrial Energy Programme, STEP and S-RAMP.
  • 2008, Foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
    Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
    The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences or Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien is one of the Royal Academies of Sweden. The Academy is an independent, non-governmental scientific organization which acts to promote the sciences, primarily the natural sciences and mathematics.The Academy was founded on 2...

External links