The Southwest Automatic Magnetic Identification Suite

Swamis Beach, Encinitas, California

Photo: Norman Koren, used with permission



SWAMIS is a freely available open source feature tracking suite. It was written with magnetic feature tracking in mind, but can be applied to feature tracking of a sequence of any kind of image. It was written by Craig DeForest and Derek Lamb at the Southwest Research Institute Department of Space Studies in Boulder, Colorado. The latest version can always be downloaded at the SWAMIS website.

Tracking with SWAMIS is accomplished with five steps, each step a separate program:

SWAMIS has been chosen to provide magnetic feature tracking for the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Future versions of SWAMIS will operate in full pipeline mode, instead of the "batch" mode that has been provided up to and including the 2010 November 9th release.

Things You Need

  1. The SWAMIS Guide (html  pdf)will guide you through the steps of installing the necessary programs and show you how to use SWAMIS. Note: This guide was last updated in 2005, and so is likely out of date. Contact Derek Lamb (email below) if you need help getting things installed and running.

  2. PGPLOT is a powerful library of graphics subroutines. SWAMIS uses it for monitoring of the tracking process, so it's not an absolute necessity, but it might be handy to have. If you're doing any sort of scientific plotting with SWAMIS results, you probably need this. You also need the PGPLOT Perl module, available from CPAN.

  3. The Perl Data Language (PDL). SWAMIS is written in PDL, a powerful, freely available scientific programming language. It is available via SolarSoft and is beginning to come with some Linux distributions, so it is possible that you already have it. The PDL webpage has the most up-to-date instructions for installing PDL.

  4. SWAMIS itself (md5). These are the PDL programs that actually do the tracking.


Here are some images of SWAMIS in action:

A sample frame showing the ability of SWAMIS to correctly track features in a magnetogram sequence.

Original and Tracked Magnetogram Frames

Around each feature we drew a contour of the detected feature, and labeled it with its identification number. The green, blue, yellow, and red circles represent different types of feature origins taking place.

Identifying the origins of magnetic 

Version History

2012-Aug-29 (md5)
Backported some features developed for SWAMIS for SDO. In frag_detect, features can also be found if there is a collection of 3 or more pixels above the low threshold. Small fix to the "downhill" discriminator. Made the swamis.pdl wrapper OS agnostic when removing the old contents of the directories.
2010-Nov-09 (md5)
Posted final "batch" SWAMIS version. frag_tabulate.pdl has been replaced with frag_tabulate_range.pdl. There have been a few bug fixes, some usability improvements, and some documentation added. The wrapper routine swamis.pdl now accepts options like a normal program. Future effort regarding SWAMIS will focus on supporting the Solar Dynamics Observatory and will be fully pipelined.
Abandoned integer version numbers. Posted SWAMIS version 2008-05-19.
SWAMIS version 1.0 released. Updated SWAMIS Guide with section 2.1--How SWAMIS Works.
Original website and version 0.9beta posted.


The following is a list of publications that use SWAMIS in a main or supporting role. If we are missing any, please let us know!

Last updated 2014-May-21. Send page comments to .

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