Occurrence characteristics of relativistic electron microbursts from SAMPEX observations

We study the occurrence of relativistic microbursts observed by the Solar Anomalous Magnetospheric Particle Explorer (SAMPEX) satellite. An algorithm is used to identify 193,694 relativistic microbursts in the > 1.05 MeV electron fluxes occurring across the time period 23 August 1996 to 11 August 2007, nearly a full solar cycle. Our observations are normalized to provide the change in absolute occurrence rates with various parameters. We find that relativistic microbursts are mostly confined to the outer radiation belt, from L = 3–8, occurring primarily on the morningside, between 0 and 13 magnetic local time (MLT). This L and MLT distribution is consistent with the L and MLT distribution of whistler mode chorus amplitude. Thus, our observations favor whistler mode chorus wave activity as a driver of relativistic microbursts. Relativistic microbursts become more frequent as the geomagnetic activity level increases and are more frequent during equinoxes than during the solstices. The peak occurrence frequency of the relativistic microbursts moves to lower L as the geomagnetic activity increases, reaching a peak occurrence rate of one microburst every 10.4 s (on average) at L = 4 for 6.6 ≤ Kp ≤ 8.7. Microbursts primarily occur outside of the plasmapause and track the inward movement of the plasmapause with increasing geomagnetic activity. The L and MLT distribution of the relativistic microbursts exhibits a peak occurrence of one microburst every 8.6 (98.0) s during active (disturbed) conditions, with the peak located at L = 5 (L = 5.5) and 08 (08) MLT.


Publication status:
Authors: Douma, Emma, Rodger, Craig J., Blum, Lauren W., Clilverd, Mark A. ORCIDORCID record for Mark A. Clilverd

On this site: Mark Clilverd
1 August, 2017
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics / 122
Link to published article: