The prize is given to a memorial to the Norwegian scientist Christian Olaf Bernhard Birkeland, who is known for the theories of atmospheric electric current, the influence of the solar wind on the polar lights and invention of the plasma arc leading to the Birkeland-Eyde method for industrial nitrogen fixation for synthesizing artificial fertilizers. Because of these merits, Kristian Birkeland has been nominated for the Nobel Prize seven times, and 2017 is also the 100th anniversary of his death. Up to now, "Kristian Birkeland Medal" received four prominent scientists: two from NASA, one from Massachusetts Lowell University and one Swiss scientist from the Physikalisch-Meteorologisches Observatorium Davos Weltstrahlungszentrum.
The second secretary of the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in the Kingdom of Belgium Lada Muraj attended the ceremony, as well as the Croatian state secretary of the Ministry of Science and Education dr. Sc. Tome Antičić, who personally handed over the award "Kristian Birkeland Medal" to Dr. Bojan Vršnak.
According to the official explanation of the awarding committee, Dr. Sc. Bojan Vršnak made a significant contribution to the field of space weather, where coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are of particular importance and can cause solar and geomagnetic storms that can significantly jeopardize many important systems on Earth and in the space (e.g. power grid networks, satellites, GPS, communications etc.). For these purposes, Dr. Sc. Bojan Vršnak in cooperation with his team, has developed an analytical magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) model for heliospheric disturbances propagation called Drag-Based Model (DBM), which has found a wide application in the field of space weather. DBM is much faster than numeric MHD models, has the same and even better accuracy and it is very suitable for a real-time forecasts and alerts regarding the potential solar and geomagnetic storms.