Articles | Volume 28, issue 2
03 Feb 2010
 | 03 Feb 2010

A study of L-dependent Pc3 pulsations observed by low Earth orbiting CHAMP satellite

D. C. Ndiitwani and P. R. Sutcliffe

Abstract. Field line resonances (FLR) driven by compressional waves are an important mechanism for the generation of ULF geomagnetic pulsations observed at all latitudes during local daytime. References to observations of toroidal standing Alfvén mode oscillations with clearly L-dependent frequencies from spacecraft in the outer magnetosphere for L>3 are limited in the literature. Such observations in the inner magnetosphere for L<3 have not yet been reported in the literature. This study offers two interesting case studies of observations of ULF waves by the low Earth orbiting CHAMP satellite. The magnetic field measurements from CHAMP, which are of unprecedented accuracy and resolution, are compared to Hermanus magnetometer data for times when CHAMP crosses the ground station L-shell, namely for 13 February 2002 and 18 February 2003. The data were analysed for Pc3 pulsation activity using the Maximum Entropy Spectral Analysis (MESA) method to visualise FLRs in the vector magnetometer data. For the first time observations of Pc3 toroidal oscillations with clearly L-dependent frequencies for lower L-shell values (L<3) observed by an LEO satellite are reported. These observations show FLR frequencies increasing as a function of decreasing latitude down to L=1.6 and then decreasing as a result of the larger plasma density of the upper ionosphere. The L-dependent frequency oscillations were observed in the presence of a broadband compressional wave spectrum. Our observations thus confirm the well-known magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) wave theoretical prediction of a compressional wave being the driver of the field line resonance.