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A tiny module for reading SuperMAG indices and substorm lists.

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A tiny module for reading SuperMAG indices and substorm lists.

For the SuperMAG data visit

If using any of these data products, please remember to cite the relevant SuperMAG papers and acknowledge SuperMAG (see here:


Install this module using pip3:

pip3 install smindex --user

Or by cloning and building this repository:

git clone
cd smindex
python3 bdist_wheel
pip3 install dist/smindex-1.0.0-py3-none-any.whl --user

Then set up an environment variable which point to where you want to store the data in your ~/.bashrc file:

export SMINDEX_PATH = /path/to/smindex/data/

Downloading Indices

For best results, visit the indices page on the SuperMAG website and select the following indices to download:


(follow this link:,SMR,SMER.L,SMER.U,SMER.E,SME.MLAT,SME.MLT,SME.E,SME.UL&fidelity=low&start=2001-01-30T00%3A00%3A00.000Z&step=14400&tab=download)

The data format should be ASCII and ideally download full year files.

These data files should then be placed in the directory $SMINDEX_PATH/download where they can be processed.

They can be converted to a binary format which is quick to read:

import smindex

Read Indices

Use the smindex.GetIndicesfunction to read the converted index files:

#Read a single year file
data = smindex.GetData(2005)

#or a range of years
data = smindex.GetData([2005,2008])

Downloading Substorm Lists

Substorm lists (by Frey et al., 2004 and 2006; Liou 2010; Newell and Gjerloev, 2011; Forsyth et al., 2015; Ohtani and Gjerloev, 2020) can be downloaded from the following page:

The ASCII file format is readable by this module. The files should be placed in $SMINDEX_PATH/substorms.

Once you have all of the data files, they can be combined using the following function:


Reading Substorms

The best way to read the substorm lists is to use the GetSubstorms function:

#get everything:
ss = smindex.GetSubstorms()

#get a single date (25th January 2005 in this case)
ss = smindex.GetSubstorms(Date=20050125)

#get a range of dates
ss = smindex.GetSubstorms(Date=[20050101,20050125])


Frey, H. U., Mende, S. B., Angelopoulos, V., and Donovan, E. F. (2004), Substorm onset observations by IMAGE‐FUV, J. Geophys. Res., 109, A10304, doi:10.1029/2004JA010607.

Frey, H.U. and Mende, S.B., 2006, March. Substorm onsets as observed by IMAGE-FUV. In Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Substorms (pp. 71-76). Calgary, Alberta, Canada: Univ. of Calgary.

Forsyth, C., Rae, I. J., Coxon, J. C., Freeman, M. P., Jackman, C. M., Gjerloev, J., and Fazakerley, A. N. ( 2015), A new technique for determining Substorm Onsets and Phases from Indices of the Electrojet (SOPHIE), J. Geophys. Res. Space Physics, 120, 10,592– 10,606, doi:10.1002/2015JA021343.

Gjerloev, J. W. (2012), The SuperMAG data processing technique, J. Geophys. Res., 117, A09213, doi:10.1029/2012JA017683.

Gjerloev, J. W., R. A. Hoffman, S. Ohtani, J. Weygand, and R. Barnes, Response of the Auroral Electrojet Indices to Abrupt Southward IMF Turnings (2010), Annales Geophysicae, 28, 1167-1182.

Liou, K. (2010), Polar Ultraviolet Imager observation of auroral breakup, J. Geophys. Res., 115, A12219, doi:10.1029/2010JA015578.

Newell, P. T., and J. W. Gjerloev (2011), Evaluation of SuperMAG auroral electrojet indices as indicators of substorms and auroral power, J. Geophys. Res., 116, A12211, doi:10.1029/2011JA016779.

Newell, P. T., and J. W. Gjerloev (2011), Substorm and magnetosphere characteristic scales inferred from the SuperMAG auroral electrojet indices, J. Geophys. Res., 116, A12232, doi:10.1029/2011JA016936.

Newell, P. T. and J. W. Gjerloev (2012), SuperMAG-Based Partial Ring Current Indices, J. Geophys. Res., 117, doi:10.1029/2012JA017586.

Ohtani, S., and J. Gjerloev, Is the Substorm Current Wedge an Ensemble of Wedgelets?: Revisit to Midlatitude Positive Bays, accepted, J. Geophys. Res, 2020.

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