Network community structure of substorms using SuperMAG magnetometers
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionNature Communications. 2021, 12, 1842. 10.1038/s41467-021-22112-4
Geomagnetic substorms are a global magnetospheric reconfiguration, during which energy is abruptly transported to the ionosphere. Central to this are the auroral electrojets, large-scale ionospheric currents that are part of a larger three-dimensional system, the substorm current wedge. Many, often conflicting, magnetospheric reconfiguration scenarios have been proposed to describe the substorm current wedge evolution and structure. SuperMAG is a worldwide collaboration providing easy access to ground based magnetometer data. Here we show application of techniques from network science to analyze data from 137 SuperMAG ground-based magnetometers. We calculate a time-varying directed network and perform community detection on the network, identifying locally dense groups of connections. Analysis of 41 substorms exhibit robust structural change from many small, uncorrelated current systems before substorm onset, to a large spatially-extended coherent system, approximately 10 minutes after onset. We interpret this as strong indication that the auroral electrojet system during substorm expansions is inherently a large-scale phenomenon and is not solely due to many meso-scale wedgelets.