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AURORASAURUS: citizen science, early warning systems and space weather

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Conference paperpeer-review

  • Andrea Tapia
  • Nicolas Lalone
  • Elizabeth MacDonald
  • Michelle Hall
  • Nathan Case
  • Matt Heavner
Publication date10/2014
<mark>Original language</mark>English


We have created Aurorasaurus, a website, a mobile application and a scientific tool that allows a community of users to better predict sightings of the aurora borealis. We focus on the aurora borealis as a rare and unpredictable event (as a proxy for a natural disaster), as it is in the middle latitudes, highly populated areas in North American and Europe. In the northern half of the continental United States the aurora may be visible once or twice per year. In the Southern half, perhaps only once every 20 years, especially during a solar maximum. We feel that the similarities between natural disaster occurrence and auroral occurrence can offer a chance for researchers to test elements of an Early Warning System. The years around 2014 are the latest solar maximum recurring on an eleven-year solar cycle. Now is the time when aurora is more likely over populated areas, and this is the first solar maximum with social media, an unprecedented opportunity to engage the public, the scientific community, and the media. Space weather scientists have only coarse means to predict where the aurora will occur. Forecasts derived from state-of-the-solar wind models and satellite-based observations of the Sun estimate the arrival of the coronal mass ejection.