A substorm workshop was held at the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, from September 18 to 21, 1991. Approximately thirty substorm researchers participated in the workshop, including twenty-five from the United States, two from Canada, and one participant each from Germany, France, and Japan.
The purpose of the workshop was to critically assess our understanding of the substorm phenomenon. To understand a substorm is to understand how the magnetosphere and ionosphere interact with each other in response to the ever-changing conditions in the solar wind. A substorm is a global phenomenon involving coupling of the solar wind, the magnetosphere, and the ionosphere. The complexity of this coupled system is the main reason why it has been so difficult to establish the temporal and spatial connections between substorm features observed in the polar ionosphere and in the magnetosphere.