Contrasting the responses of three different ground-based instruments to energetic electron precipitation
In order to make best use of the opportunities provided by space missions such as the Radiation Belt Storm Probes, we determine the response of complementary subionospheric radiowave propagation measurements (VLF), riometer absorption measurements, cosmic noise absorption, and GPS-produced total electron content (vTEC) to different energetic electron precipitation (EEP). We model the relative sensitivity and responses of these instruments to idealized monoenergetic beams of precipitating electrons, and more realistic EEP spectra chosen to represent radiation belts and substorm precipitation. In the monoenergetic beam case, we find riometers are more sensitive to the same EEP event occurring during the day than during the night, while subionospheric VLF shows the opposite relationship, and the change in vTEC is independent. In general, the subionospheric VLF measurements are much more sensitive than the other two techniques for EEP over 200 keV, responding to flux magnitudes two-three orders of magnitude smaller than detectable by a riometer. Detectable TEC changes only occur for extreme monoenergetic fluxes. For the radiation belt EEP case, clearly detectable subionospheric VLF responses are produced by daytime fluxes that are ∼10 times lower than required for riometers, while nighttime fluxes can be 10,000 times lower. Riometers are likely to respond only to radiation belt fluxes during the largest EEP events and vTEC is unlikely to be significantly disturbed by radiation belt EEP. For the substorm EEP case both the riometer absorption and the subionospheric VLF technique respond significantly, as does the change in vTEC, which is likely to be detectable at ∼3–4 total electron content units.
Authors: Rodger, Craig J., Clilverd, M.A., Kavanagh, Andrew J., Watt, Clare E.J., Verronen, Pekka T., Raita, Tero