A re-examination of latitudinal limits of substorm-produced energetic electron precipitation

The primary sources of energetic electron precipitation (EEP) which affect altitudes 30 keV) are expected to be from the radiation belts, and during substorms. EEP from the radiation belts should be restricted to locations between L = 1.5-8, while substorm produced EEP is expected to range from L = 4-9.5 during quiet geomagnetic conditions. Therefore, one would not expect any significant D-region impact due to electron precipitation at geomagnetic latitudes beyond about L = 10. In this study we report on large unexpectedly high latitude D-region ionization enhancements, detected by an incoherent scatter radar at L ≈ 16, which appear to be caused by electron precipitation from substorms. We go on to reexamine the latitudinal limits of substorm produced EEP using data from multiple low-Earth orbiting spacecraft, and demonstrate that the precipitation stretches many hundreds of kilometers polewards of the previously suggested limits. We find that a typical substorm will produce significant EEP over the IGRF L-shell range L = 4.6 ± 0.2-14.5 ± 1.2, peaking at L = 6-7. However, there is significant variability from event to event; in contrast to the median case, the strongest 25% of substorms have significant EEP in the range spaning L = 4.1 ± 0.1-20.7 ± 2.2, while the weakest 25% of substorms have significant EEP in the range spaning L = 5.5 ± 0.1-10.1 ± 0.7. We also examine the occurrence probability of very large substorms, focusing on those events which appear to be able to disable geostationary satellites when they are located near midnight MLT. On average these large substorms occur approximately 1-6 times per year, a significant rate given the potential impact on satellites.


Publication status:
Authors: Cresswell-Moorcock, Kathy, Rodger, Craig J., Kero, Antti, Collier, Andrew B., Clilverd, Mark A. ORCIDORCID record for Mark A. Clilverd, Häggström, Ingemar, Pitkänen, Timo

On this site: Mark Clilverd
1 October, 2013
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics / 118
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