Mapping Auroral Activity with Twitter

The article “Mapping Auroral Activity with Twitter” was recently accepted to the American Geophysical Union (AGU) journal Geophysical Research Letters (GRL). The study presented in the article compared the  daily number of aurora-related tweets to several measures of auroral activity and found that the two data showed strong correlation.


Twitter is a popular, publicly-accessible, social media service that has proven useful in mapping large-scale events in real-time. In this study, for the first time, the use of Twitter as a measure of auroral activity is investigated. Peaks in the number of aurora-related tweets are found to frequently coincide with geomagnetic disturbances (detection rate of 91%). Additionally, the number of daily aurora-related tweets is found to strongly correlate with several auroral strength proxies (ravg ≈ 0.7). An examination is made of the bias for location and time of day within Twitter data, and a first order correction of these effects is presented. Overall, the results suggest that Twitter can provide both specific details about an individual aurora and accurate real-time indication of when, and even from where, an aurora is visible.

The work undertaken was a small part of the much bigger Aurorasaurus project.