The influence of solar wind variability on magnetospheric ULF wave power
Abstract. Magnetospheric ultra-low frequency (ULF) oscillations in the Pc 4–5 frequency range play an important role in the dynamics of Earth's radiation belts, both by enhancing the radial diffusion through incoherent interactions and through the coherent drift-resonant interactions with trapped radiation belt electrons. The statistical distributions of magnetospheric ULF wave power are known to be strongly dependent on solar wind parameters such as solar wind speed and interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) orientation. Statistical characterisation of ULF wave power in the magnetosphere traditionally relies on average solar wind–IMF conditions over a specific time period. In this brief report, we perform an alternative characterisation of the solar wind influence on magnetospheric ULF wave activity through the characterisation of the solar wind driver by its variability using the standard deviation of solar wind parameters rather than a simple time average. We present a statistical study of nearly one solar cycle (1996–2004) of geosynchronous observations of magnetic ULF wave power and find that there is significant variation in ULF wave powers as a function of the dynamic properties of the solar wind. In particular, we find that the variability in IMF vector, rather than variabilities in other parameters (solar wind density, bulk velocity and ion temperature), plays the strongest role in controlling geosynchronous ULF power. We conclude that, although time-averaged bulk properties of the solar wind are a key factor in driving ULF powers in the magnetosphere, the solar wind variability can be an important contributor as well. This highlights the potential importance of including solar wind variability especially in studies of ULF wave dynamics in order to assess the efficiency of solar wind–magnetosphere coupling.