Colin Forsyth (UCL MSSL): Identifying the times and impacts of explosive energy release in the magnetosphere
Earth’s magnetosphere is continually being energized by its interaction with the solar wind. This energy builds up within the magnetosphere over time before being explosively released, with 10^15 J of magnetic energy being used to energize the plasma population throughout the magnetosphere and being dumped into the ionosphere. These intervals of energy release, known as substorms, are the key driver of much of the dynamic processes in the magnetosphere, from the changes in the coupling between the ionosphere and magnetosphere, to the energization of the radiation belts, processes which come together under the banner of space weather. However, identifying substorms and understanding their effects on the magnetosphere is still a challenge for space scientists. In this seminar, I will present a new technique for identifying all parts of a substorm using a global network of over 100 magnetometers and show that the effect of substorms on the radiation belts is not what we previously believed.