Challenges towards Exascale Computing

Opportunities in the multiscale-multiphysics modeling of space weather

Giovanni Lapenta (K.U.Leuven)


Space weather events involve complex systems with a wide variety of physics processes and a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. The modelling of space weather requires to combine the capability to simulate system-scale processes requiring typically fluid models with the capability of resolving the fundamental microphysics at the kinetic level.  Some fundamental processes can develop at scales as small as meters or even less while the overall evolution can involve the whole solar system. We review the challenges and opportunities of modelling such multiscale and multiphysics processes. We will present one specific approach, the implicit moment method, and outline its viability for space weather modeling as well as its generality and applicability to very different areas of science and technology such as astrophysics, material science, nanotechnology and solid mechanics.


Master Degree in Nuclear Engineering at the Politecnico di Torino, February 1990. Ph.D. in Plasma Physics at the Politecnico di Torino, September, 1993. Visiting Scientist at the  Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) from 1992 to 1994. Director's Postdoctoral Fellow at LANL from 1994 to 1996. Tenured Research Professor of Computational Physics at Politecnico di Torino, 1996-2000. Technical Staff Member at LANL, 1998-2008. Professor of Space Weather, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, since January 2007.

Lapenta's research is currently focused on the study of various aspects of space weather and of solar, space and astrophysical systems. Lapenta?s expertise is in the development and use of theoretical and simulation tools for different problems in plasma physics. Lapenta is also involved in applying theoretical and simulation tools to the interpretation of experimental and observational findings. Lapenta is also involved in plasma and radiation physics research with application to laboratory and industrial systems.

Lapenta has been involved in large research efforts in USA and in Europe, as principal investigator and as co-investigator. Examples are the ExaScience Lab Intel Europe (leader of the applications work package), the SOTERIA space weather research network between 16 centers on 11 EU countries (coordinator of the project), the SWIFF EC-FP7 network between 7 centers in 5 countries (coordinator of the project), the NASA Sun Earth Connection Theory program and the NASA MMS-IDS project; a number of LANL internal projects and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) projects; the Italian Institute for the Physics of Matter (INFM) project on non-neutral plasmas. Lapenta has published about 500 works (130 on international peer-reviewed journals).