Observations of the upper frequency cutoffs of the auroral kilometric radiation
Abstract. Intense auroral kilometric radiation (AKR) is being frequently observed with POLRAD from the Auroral Probe (Interball-2). Observations of the abrupt upper frequency cutoffs (UFCs) in the spectra of AKR are reported. The UFCs can be observed at a frequency range from 300 to 700 kHz, corresponding to AKR generation altitudes from approximately 4800 to 2100 km, and are distributed in magnetic local time (MLT) hours similarly to the AKR events, with a maximum at 1 h MLT. The observed frequency extent of the UFCs is ≤12 kHz, and is often determined by the instrumental resolution (4 kHz). It is suggested that the UFC may be associated with an abrupt switching on of the generation mechanism, when the electron density becomes sufficiently low inside a plasma depletion at an altitude where the ratio of fpe/fce crosses some threshold value. The steepness of the UFCs can imply a non-linear process of generation. The estimated distance of the e-folding field aligned wave amplification is between 3 and 8 km. The UFCs are sometimes, though very seldom (<10%), accompanied by narrow band (less than 4 kHz) "ridges" of radiation observed at the cutoff frequency. They are smoothly drifting in frequncy for several minutes. The power density of radiation in the "ridge" can be up to 2 orders of magnitude stronger than in the accompanying wide band emission of AKR. The "ridge" at UFC can imply either energy concentration at the source bottom, or focusing, if specific conditions for the escape of the radiation are assumed.
Key words. Magnetospheric physics (auroral phenomena; plasma waves and instabilities) · Radio science (magnetospheric physics)