Substorms with Christine Gabrielse

Written by Alexa Halford

Space physicists are not necessarily the most creative of people. Two of our biggest types of events are called “storms” and “substorms”. So have you ever wondered what is the difference between the two? Well size of event is one thing, but there are others too. CUSIA team member Christine Gabrielse gave a magnetosphere seminar talk at Substorms and helps to explain just what exactly is a substorm, and you can watch it here.

Substorms are wonderful because they happen quiet often and produce beautiful auroral displays. I highly encourage everyone to go see the aurora as it’s really very beautiful. One thing you notice when watching the aurora is all the swirling lights in the sky that rarely stand still for too long.

As you may have guessed, this is part of why CUSIA is interested. Those swirls map from the atmosphere back out into the magnetosphere where they are connected to magnetospheric dynamics which are pushing those particles into the atmosphere creating the dancing lights. As we can see the aurora is not showing the same structures from one hemisphere to the other – okay it’s actually really difficult to see that because we don’t always have data from both hemispheres at the same time. However, much of the data and models we have do show that this isn’t always symmetric. Understanding why it isn’t, and what that means for processes in the magnetosphere and ionosphere is a huge area of study. CUSIA team members are on it! And you can be too. Check out the CAM to learn more, contribute an article yourself, or comment and add to the knowledge that our team members are collecting and become a force multiplier!

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