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Magnetospheric substorms represent the basic dynamic process in the coupled solar wind – magnetosphere – ionosphere system. Recent satellite missions have considerably advanced our means to monitor this vast environment. These observations are interpreted in the context of a hierarchy of models: Global MHD simulations and various techniques of nonlinear physics are used to characterize the large-scale features, whereas microphysical models are used to study the small-scale processes. Empirical models are described in order to address questions that involve meso-scale or multi-scale phenomena. We discuss some of the recent observations and relate those to new advancements in various modeling techniques.