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Storm time, short-lived bursts of relativistic electron precipitation detected by subionospheric radio wave propagation

Authors


Abstract

[1] In this study we report on ground-based observations of short bursts of relativistic electron precipitation (REP), detected by a subionospheric propagation sensor in Sodankylä, Finland during 2005. In two ∼4 hour case study periods from L = 5.2, around local midnight, several hundred short-lived radio wave perturbations were observed, covering a wide range of arrival azimuths. The vast majority (∼99%) of these perturbations were not simultaneous with perturbations on other paths, consistent with a precipitation “rainstorm” producing ionospheric changes of small spatial sizes around the Sodankylä receiver. The recovery time of these radio wave perturbations are ∼1.2 s, which is consistent with the modeled effects of a burst of >2 MeV precipitating electrons. This agrees with satellite observations of the microburst energy spectrum. The energetic nature of the precipitation which produces the FAST perturbations suggests that they should be observable in both day and night conditions. While it is widely assumed that satellite-detected REP microbursts are due to wave-particle interactions with very low-frequency chorus waves, the energy spectra predicted by our current models of chorus propagation and wave-particle interaction are not consistent with the experimentally observed radio wave perturbations presented here or previously reported satellite observations of REP microbursts. The results inferred from both the satellite and subionospheric observations, namely the absence of a large, dominant component of <100 keV precipitating electrons, fundamentally disagrees with a mechanism of chorus-driven precipitation. Nonetheless, further work on the modeling of chorus-driven precipitation is required.

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