Syun-Ichi Akasofu

Syun-Ichi Akasofu
Founding Director & Professor of Physics Emeritus
affiliations: IARC
location: 415 R/P Akasofu Building
email: sakasofu attsymbol for nospam iarc [dot] uaf [dot] edu
phone: 907-474-6012


Dr. Syun-Ichi Akasofu, Professor of Physics, Emeritus, was director of the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska Fairbanks from 1986 to 1999 and the founding director of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska Fairbanks from its establishment in 1998 until January of 2007. He originally came to the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1958 as a graduate student to study the aurora under Sydney Chapman, receiving his PhD in 1961. He has been professor of geophysics since 1964. Dr. Akasofu has published more than 550 professional journal articles, authored and co-authored 11 books. He has collaborated with numerous colleagues nationally and internationally, and has guided nine students to their Ph.D. degrees.

Dr. Akasofu's auroral work has earned national and international recognition. His 1964 paper has become the foundation of the discipline of auroral/magnetospheric substorms. He was named one of the "1000 Most Cited Scientists" in 1981. His 1946 paper was cited as one of the most quoted papers even in 2002. In 1980, he was named a Distinguished Alumnus by UAF. The Royal Astronomy Society of London presented Dr. Akasofu with its Chapman Medal. He has been honored with the Japan Academy of Sciences Award, and the John Adams Fleming Award of the American Geophysical Union. In 1985, he gave a lecture on the aurora to the Emperor of Japan. In 2003, the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Star, was conferred on him by the Emperor of Japan. The Hannes Alfvén medal was awarded by the European Geoscience Union in 2011. He was named a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 1977, and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2001. In 1985, Dr. Akasofu became the first recipient of the Chapman Chair Professorship at the University of Alaska Fairbanks; and in 1987, he was named one of the "Centennial Alumni" by the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges. In addition, he has received awards of appreciation for his efforts in support of international science activities from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan in 1993 and from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of Japan in 1996. He was the recipient of the University of Alaska Edith R. Bullock Prize for Excellence in 1997. He also received the 1999 Alaskan of the Year Denali Award, and the 2003 Aurora Award from the Fairbanks Convention and Visitors' Bureau. Asteroid (4949) at a distance of 2.2 astronomical unit bears Akasofu's name.

As director of the Geophysical Institute, Dr. Akasofu concentrated his effort on establishing the institute as a key research center in the Arctic. He also played a critical role in the establishment of the Alaska Volcano Observatory and the modernization of the Poker Flat Research Range. As director of the International Arctic Research Center, he supported an international project of the Arctic Ocean.

Upon his retirement in 2007, the University of Alaska Board of Regents officially named the building that houses the International Arctic Research Center the "Syun-Ichi Akasofu Building" in recognition of "his tireless vision and dedicated service to the university, the state, and country in advancing arctic science."

Recent Publications


Akasofu, S-I. On the Present Halting of Global Warming. Climate. 1(1):4-11.  Abstract

Akasofu, S-I. The relationship between the magnetosphere and magnetospheric/auroral substorms. Annales Geophysicae. 31(3):387-394.  Abstract


Akasofu, S-I. Auroral Morphology: A historical account and major auroral features during auroral substorms. Auroral Phenomenology and Magnetospheric Processes: Earth and Other Planets. Geophysical Monograph. :29-38  Abstract


Akasofu, S-I. 2011. The choice of the concept of magnetic field lines or of electric current lines: Alfvén medal lecture. Annales Geophysicae. 29(7):1215-1232.

Akasofu, S-I. 2011. The scientific legacy of Sydney Chapman. Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union. 92(34):281.

Akasofu, S-I. 2011. A Historical Review of the Geomagnetic Storm-Producing Plasma Flows from the Sun. Space Science Reviews. 164:85–132.  Abstract


Akasofu, S-I. 2010. Auroral Substorms Paradigm Shifts in Research. Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union. 91(31):269.

Akasofu, S-I. 2010. On the recovery from the Little Ice Age. Natural Science. 02(11):1211-1224.  Abstract