Nonlinear Processes in Geosciences

NP Interviews: the Division President Stéphane Vannitsem

NP Interviews: the Division President Stéphane Vannitsem

Today’s NP Interviews hosts the Nonlinear Processes Division President Stéphane Vannitsem.

Stéphane is the head of the Dynamical Meteorology and Climatology Unit of the Research division of the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium, and lecturer at the Free University of Brussels. He is currently president of the Nonlinear Processes division of the European Geosciences Union and executive editor of the journal “Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics”. His main research interests and expertise are oriented toward the application and adaptation of techniques of dynamical systems theory, chaos theory and stochastic processes to the study of atmospheric and climate dynamics with emphasis on their variability and predictability.

What is the NP Division?

The Nonlinear Processes in Geosciences (NP) Division was born at the early stages of the development of the Union, at that time the European Geophysical Society (EGS), with the aim at promoting new techniques and theories on the properties and dynamics of systems displaying nonlinearities.

Why are nonlinearities important?

Nonlinearities are generic in our environment and are at the heart of the complexity of the systems geoscientists are dealing with. As these nonlinearities are affecting all fields of geosciences, the NP division is a truly interdisciplinary (even transdisciplinary) division attracting scientists working on nonlinear problems and/or at the crossroads between different disciplines.

What are these disciplines and aspects?

The main themes covered by our interdisciplinary division and the corresponding officers are listed at Aspects covered are the mathematics, the dynamics, the modelling and the statistics of nonlinear processes in all geosciences fields from the Earth interior to the outer space.

What about sessions and short courses during the General Assembly?

As an interdisciplinary division dealing with state-of-the-art and brand new techniques and with new nonlinear mechanisms, NP is of course promoting co-organization of sessions with the other divisions. At the same time, members of the division are proposing short courses in which advanced techniques are presented. These courses have a lot of success among young scientists, and are usually full and often people are standing outside the rooms. These courses are definitely a success for the NP division, allowing for more visibility of our activities and a faster diffusion of new promising approaches and new nonlinear mechanisms.

Great! Are there also some awards and medals?

On top of the usual oral and poster presentations, the NP division awards excellent young scientists by means of an outstanding Early Career Scientist (ECS) Award and for more accomplished scientists through the Lewis Fry Richardson Medal. The latter has been first awarded in 2004 and the list of awardees can be found at Lewis Fry Richardson was a pioneer in turbulence in which nonlinearities are the generic elements of the complex behavior of the fluid, and had also a strong vision on how numerical weather prediction should be made. All awardees have substantially contributed to advancing our understanding of the impact of nonlinearities throughout geosciences. The NP ECS Award was first delivered in 2011 and the list of young awardees can also be found at, illustrating how lively this field is and how young scientists are still enthusiastic by the problems to be solved from the challenging Earth System evolution to Solar Flares, or Rogue waves (without being exhaustive at all).

How large is the NP Division?

Since its start, the NP Division has grown in size until to reach an average of 300-400 abstracts per year. This size is obviously small as compared to the main divisions of the EGU that can reach several thousands of abstracts, but plays an essential role in diffusing new advanced techniques throughout the Union.

Is there a publishing journal for researchers in nonlinear processes?

The NP division members have set up in the early days of the EGS a journal “Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics”. This journal published by the EGU – and co-listed among the partner journals of the AGU – covers all aspects of nonlinear geophysics. The impact factor is not high, but the quality of papers and new ideas is. This forum is clearly a place for promoting research on nonlinear processes, and I encourage young scientists to take part of the nonlinear adventure by submitting good papers to this journal. The link to the journal is at

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I am a researcher at the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) in Rome, Italy. My research activity is focused on data analysis and modeling, via dynamical system and statistical mechanics approaches, to understand complexity in geoscience and near-Earth space plasma. My interests cover: - Complexity and chaos in geosciences - Extreme events in geosciences - Sea level variability: transient phenomena, long-term variability and trends - Geo-electromagnetic transient phenomena and effects on electric infrastructures - Turbulence in fluids and plasmas

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