This paper was published as Annales Geophysicae, 2006, 24 (11), pp. 3027-3040. It is also available from http://www.ann-geophys.net/24/3027/2006/angeo-24-3027-2006.html. Doi: 10.5194/angeo-24-3027-2006 \ud Ann. Geophys., 24, 3027-3040, 2006\ud http://www.ann-geophys.net/24/3027/2006/\ud doi:10.5194/angeo-24-3027-2006\ud © Author(s) 2006. This work is distributed\ud under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.A statistical study is presented of the unstable proton populations, which contain the free energy required to drive small-scale poloidal mode ULF waves in the magnetosphere, observed at invariant latitudes of 60° to 80°. The data are all in the form of Ion Distribution Functions (IDFs) amassed over ~6 years using the CAMMICE (MICS) instrument on the Polar spacecraft, and cover proton energies of 1 keV to 328 keV. The free energy contained in the unstable, positive gradient regions of the IDFs is available to drive resonant wave growth. The results show that positive gradient regions in IDFs on magnetic field lines corresponding to the lower invariant latitudes in the range under study occur predominantly in the afternoon sector at proton energies of 5 keV to 20 keV. In the morning and dawn sectors positive gradient regions are seen with a typical proton energy range of 5 keV to 45 keV. While the proton energy peaks in the afternoon sector at around ~7 keV the morning sector has two peaks occurring at ~10 keV and ~20–30 keV. The technique of Baddeley et al. (2004), employed to quantify the free energy in each IDF, found that as invariant latitude increased the free energy contained in the positive gradient regions fell. Positive gradient regions in the afternoon sector decrease in number with invariant latitude at a faster rate than those in the morning sector. The majority of positive gradient regions had free energy values of >1010 J with many at the lowest invariant latitudes having free energies of in excess of 1011 J. Positive gradient regions at proton energies of >100 keV are rarely observed, and have free energies of typically <10 J, which is too small to produce high m ULF waves of significant amplitude
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