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 is a Professor of Physics and Director Emeritus at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

His 1964 paper “The development of the auroral substorm” became the foundation for the study of auroral activities. He has authored or co-authored over 500 papers and 11 books, including “Solar-Terrestrial Physics” (co-authored with Sydney Chapman) from Oxford University Press in 1972. Dr. Akasofu has a wide interest in all aspects of the solar-terrestrial relationship, including climate change; he predicted, notably, that global warming would halt around the year 2000. He earned mention as one of the “1000 most cited contemporary scientists” in 1981 (Institute for Scientific Information), and as a highly cited author in both 2002 (American Society of Information Science) and 2012 (Thomson Reuters).

Dr. Akasofu received the Chapman Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society of London in 1976, the Japan Academy of Science Award in 1979, the American Geophysical Union’s John Adam Fleming Medal in 1979 (as well as recognition as a 50-year AGU member in 2010), and the Hannes Alfvén Medal from the European Geosciences Union in 2011. The Emperor of Japan bestowed on him the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver in 2003. Akasofu is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (1977), the American Association for Advancement of Science (2001), and the Arctic Institute of North America. Asteroid 4949 carries his name.

Akasofu joined the Geophysical Institute (GI) of the University of Alaska as a graduate student in 1958 under the guidance of Sydney Chapman, receiving his PhD in 1961, and became a professor there in 1964. Akasofu served as director of the GI from 1986 to 1999, and then as founding director of the International Arctic Research Center (IARC) until his retirement in 2007. The National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges named him as one of its 125 “Centennial Alumni” in 1987. He was the recipient of the University of Alaska Edith R. Bullock Prize in 1977 and the Alaskan of the Year Denali Award in 1999. Upon his retirement in 2007, the University of Alaska Board of Regents officially named the building in which IARC is housed the “Syun-Ichi Akasofu Building.”

Recent Publications


Akasofu, S.-I. 2015, Auroral substorms as an electrical discharge phenomenon, Progress in Earth and Planetary Science, 2:20, doi:10. 1186/s40645-015-0050-9.

Akasofu, S.-I. 2015, Single spots, unipolar magnetic regions, and pairs of spots. Geophys. Res. Lett., 41, 3698-3700, doi: 10. 1002/2014GL06319.

Akasofu, S.-I. 2015, Why does the aurora flare up?, EOS, 96, No.8, doi: 10. 1029/2015EOo27907.

Akasofu, S.-I. 2015, Paradigm transitionsin solar-terrestrial physics from 1900: my personal view, Hist. Geo Space Sci., 6, 1-21, doi:10.5194/hgss-6-1.


Akasofu, S.-I. 2014, Single spots, unipolar regions, and pairs of spots: 2. The development of sunspots and the Hale boundary, Geophy. Res. Lett., 42, doi: 19. 1002/2014GL062887.

Akasofu, S.-I. 2014, A note on the baseline in considering the Ice Age, Climate, 2, 129-132; doi: 10.3390/cli2030129.


Akasofu, S.-I. 2013, Where is the magnetic energy for the expansion phase of auroral substorms accumulated?, J. Geophys. Res.:Space Phys., 118, 7219-7225, doi: 10. 1002/2013JA019042.

Akasofu, S.-I. 2013, The relationship between the magnetosphere and magnetosphericc/auroral substorms, Ann. Geophys., 31, 387-394; doi: 10.5194/angeo-31-387-2013.

Akasofu, S.-I. 2013, On the present halting of global warming, Climate,1,4-11, doi:10.3390/cli1010004.


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.


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.


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.