The European Science Foundation (ESF) scientific network SPECIAL (Space Processes and Electrical Changes Influencing Atmospheric Layers) has started in December 1999 and will end in 2003/04. The purpose of this network is to investigate mechanisms possibly linking Space Weather and Earth Weather. Information on SPECIAL can be obtained from its WWW site at www.sgo.fi/SPECIAL.
Basically, participants are interested in the following three areas: 1.) The AC, and DC, global atmospheric electric current, i.e. charges, currents, and potential differences in the atmosphere, and its electrical conductivity; 2.) Tropospheric and stratospheric responses to energetic charged particle fluxes during well-observed space weather events, and statistical studies of such events; 3.) Sprites and Schumann resonances of the Earth-ionosphere cavity excited by tropical lightning.
Until now, the main achievements of SPECIAL are the establishment of a multitude of new collaborations between participating researchers. Moreover, an Expression of Interest from the whole of SPECIAL has been submitted to the VI Framework Programme. A part of the members of SPECIAL have succeeded in attracting the fund for a so-called Research Training Network from the V Framework Programme under the topic of "Coupling of Atmospheric Layers (CAL)." CAL addresses questions of how transient luminous events (sprites, elves, etc.) link the lower and upper atmosphere across the stratopause.