Steve: The Optical Signature of Intense Subauroral Ion Drifts

W. E. Archer, B. Gallardo-Lacourt, G. W. Perry, J. P. St.-Maurice, S. C. Buchert, E. Donovan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Little is currently known about the optical phenomenon known as Steve. The first scientific publication on the subject suggests that Steve is associated with an intense subauroral ion drift (SAID). However, additional inquiry is warranted as this suggested relationship as it is based on a single case study. Here we present eight occurrences of Steve with coincident or near-coincident measurements from the European Space Agency's Swarm satellites and show that Steve is consistently associated with SAID. When satellite observations coincident with Steve are compared to that of typical SAID, we find the SAID associated with Steve to have above average peak ion velocities and electron temperatures, as well as extremely low plasma densities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6279-6286
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 28 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


  • SAID
  • Steve
  • Swarm satellites
  • ionosphere


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