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Syun-Ichi Akasofu
Syun-Ichi Akasofu

Dr. Syun-Ichi Akasofu was interviewed on May 4, 2000 by Bill Schneider at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) in Fairbanks, Alaska. In this interview, Syun talks about his career as a pioneering scientist in the study of the Aurora Borealis, as director of the Geophysical Institute, and as one of the founders of the International Arctic Research Center (IARC) and its collaboration with Japanese scientists. He discusses his own scientific research and accomplishments as director, as well as the achievements and legacy of the Geophysical Institute, past directors, and IARC. He also emphasizes the importance of scientific collaborations in order to develop broader and deeper understanding.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2000-18-03

Project: Geophysical Institute 50th Anniversary
Date of Interview: May 4, 2000
Narrator(s): Syun-Ichi Akasofu
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider
Location of Interview:
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1) Dr. Akasofu's Aurora research.

2) How Dr. Akasofu started to work on the Auroras.

3) Looking at the Aurora and defining its shape.

4) Studying the Aurora.

5) Aurora studies and developing the Poker Flat Research Range.

6) Improving the conditions at Poker Flat Research Range with help from outside funding.

7) How the International Arctic Research Center (IARC) developed.

8) How the International Arctic Research Center developed and the combination of several institutes working together to understand global warming.

9) Gulf Stream coming in to the Arctic Ocean and understanding the changes in the Arctic.

10) Why the Japanese are very supportive of the International Arctic Research Center.

11) Launching satellites and the Geophysical Institute's relationship with Japan.

12) Major achievements of the Geophysical Institute and its past directors.

13) Major achievements of the Geophysical Institute and its past directors continued.

14) Promoting the Geophysical Institute.

15) The Aurora and what it tells us about life on other planets.

16) Combining the sciences to help us understand a subject.

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Section 1: graduate student\ Chapman, Syndney\ Alaska\ letter -- wrote to Chapman\ questions\ response to letter\ Alaska -- moving to\ Chapman, Syndey -- worked under\ Elvey, Christian\ South Pacific\ magnetic stones\ thesis\ Geophysical Institute|

Section 2: fish-eye cameras\ International Geophysical Year (IGY)\ all-sky cameras\ data\ Moscow\ observe -- film\ work -- Aurora\ northern sky\ recedes\ Aurora\ magnetic pole\ annual ring\ Fairbanks\ after midnight -- Aurora recedes back to the north\ zone\ center line\ Fort Yukon\ southward\ old sky films|

Section 3: Aurora\ Fort Yukon\ northern sky\ ring\ oval\ Northern Hemisphere\ graduate student\ correspondence\ all-sky camera\ Alaska mini-station\ Anchorage\ data -- scan|

Section 4: Air Force\ Aurora\ satellite\ Aurora -- shape\ images\ earth -- looking down at\ midnight sky -- Aurora active\ earth -- rotate\ quiet Aurora\ Aurora active\ patchy Aurora\ old sky films\ Northern Hemisphere\ Siberia\ Canada\ photographs|

Section 5: Aurora -- quiet\ Aurora -- active\ Aurora activity\ Geophysical Institute -- director\ Poker Flat Program\ OSHA\ Poker Flat -- only high altitude rocket range in the U.S.|

Section 6: money -- finding\ NASA\ Stevens, Senator Ted\ funding\ Poker Flat\ upgrade process\ rocket range -- maintain\ launch rockets\ Canada -- closed range\ Norway\ scientists -- U.S.\ national projects -- very important\ funding -- shifted around\ Poker Flat -- upgrade|

Section 7: Insititutes -- four major ones\ Geophysical Institute\ Institute of Arctic Biology\ Institute of Marine Science\ Institute of Northern Engineering\ Institute -- discipline oriented\ glaciers -- how they move\ global change\ global warming\ temperature\ Arctic Ocean -- changes\ permafrost\ tree rings\ global change -- study\ disciplines -- combined to understand global change|

Section 8: glaciers -- why they move\ global change\ people -- bringing different ones together\ arctic ice\ area shrinking\ gulf stream\ Arctic Ocean -- ice melting|

Section 9: low pressure system\ global warming\ atmospheric scientists\ interdisciplinary\ climate change -- primary focus\ changes -- describe\ causes\ chain of processes\ central scheme\ common goal -- try to understand what's going on|

Section 10: Institute -- establishing\ Japanese -- government\ Japanese scientists -- shy\ students -- sent here\ learning English\ students -- come from many countries\ scientists -- treated as a guest\ students -- treated equally\ training -- don't get it\ University of Alaska Fairbanks -- international university|

Section 11: high altitude\ satellites -- tracking\ antenna\ Japanese satellites\ scientists\ Japan\ employee -- University of Alaska Fairbanks\ hires\ postdoctorate\ Japanese funded|

Section 12: Geophysical Institute -- world known\ Elvey, Christian\ Chapman, Sydney\ establish foundation\ geophysical scientific community\ researchers\ Elvey -- director\ Chapman -- scientific director\ foundation -- established by Elvey and Chapman\ International Geophysical Year|

Section 13: Mather, Keith\ Aurora\ expanding studies\ seismology\ atmospheric sciences\ Alaska earthquake\ earthquake -- research\ Mather, Keith -- built the foundation of what the Geophysical Institute is today\ geophysics|

Section 14: Roederer, Juan\ Akasofu, Syun-Ichi\ promote disciplines\ establish facilities\ Poker Flat -- upgrade\ Alaska Volcano Observatory\ disciplines -- bringing them together for solving common problems|

Section 15: Elder Hostel\ Aurora -- greenish\ oxygen\ green Aurora -- evidence of plant life on other planets\ Jupiter -- pinkish Aurora mostly hydrogen\ detection\ technology|

Section 16: scientists\ subjects -- dig deeper for better understanding\ Aurora science\ combining sciences\ life on other planets|