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Northern lights' social networking reveals true scale of magnetic storms



 Northern Lights
Credit: CC0 Public Domain
            

Magnetic disturbances caused by phenomena like the northern lights can be tracked by a 'social network' of ground-based instruments, according to a new study from the University of Warwick.
                                               

The researchers, led by Professor Sandra Chapman from the University's Department of Physics, have described the observations of over 1

00 ground based magnetometers in terms of a time-varying directed network of connections. They monitor the development of geomagnetic substorms using the same mathematics used to study social networks.

The Geophysical Research Letters opens up the opportunity to develop more accurate models of substorms and

The northern lights, or Aurora Borealis, occur when charged with our Sun bombard the Earth's magnetic field. This generates energy and energy in the ionosphere which generates large amounts of electrical current in the ionosphere. Small versions of these substorms are common, but occasionally larger storms occur.




The magnetic field from ground based magnetometers in the auroral region superposed over space-based images of the aurora. Credit: SuperMAG

Using over 100 magnetometers that form the SuperMAG initiative led by dr. Jesper Gjerloev, the researchers use the mathematical concepts from network science to monitor the development of substorms in the arctic auroral region. As a substorm develops and the electrical current in the ionosphere grows, individual magnetometers want to register a change in the magnetic field. Pairs of magnetometers became linked with each other, expanding their network of 'friends' and allowing the researchers to monitor how the auroral disturbance from the substance forms and propagates, and how quickly.

Substorms from the Aurora Borealis create an electrical current in the atmosphere that is echoed at ground level. Localized changes in the Earth's magnetic field can disrupt power lines, electronic and communications systems and technologies such as GPS.




The dynamical network constructed from the magnetometer data, which are the same propagated signal. Credit: University of Warwick

Professor Sandra Chapman of the University of Warwick's Department of Physics said, "When talking about space weather, it is useful to provide a single number or rating 100% observations. [19659005] The aim of this report is to provide an overview of all the information from 100+ observations ] "SuperMAG is a great example of how to do international co-operation is to solve problems like the weather on a planetary scale, using data from stations located in all the countries that abut the Arctic Circle."
                                                                                                                        


Northern Light secrets uncovered thanks to social networking tools


More information:
L. Orr et al. Grounded magnetometer data, Geophysical Research Letters (2019). DOI: 10.1029 / 2019GL082824

Provided by
University of Warwick




Citation :
                                                 Northern lights' social networking reveals true scale of magnetic storms (2019, June 21)
                                                 retrieved 23 June 2019
                                                 from https://phys.org/news/2019-06-northern-social-networking-reveals-true.html
                                            

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