Space Science Reviews

, Volume 171, Issue 1–4, pp 121–139 | Cite as

A Comparison of Ground Level Event e/p and Fe/O Ratios with Associated Solar Flare and CME Characteristics

  • S. W. KahlerEmail author
  • E. W. Cliver
  • A. J. Tylka
  • W. F. Dietrich


Solar energetic particle (SEP) events reaching rigidities >1 GV are observed at 1 AU as ground-level events (GLEs). They are considered to be extreme cases of gradual SEP events, produced by shocks driven by wide and fast CMEs that are usually associated with long-duration (>1 hour) soft X-ray (SXR) flares. However, some large gradual SEP events, including GLEs, are associated with flares of short-duration (<1 hour) timescales comparable to those of flares seen with impulsive, low-energy SEP events with enhanced charge states, heavy-element abundances, and e/p ratios. The association of some GLEs with short-duration SXR events challenges us to understand the GLE event-to-event variation with SXR durations and whether it truly reflects the nature of the particle acceleration processes or simply the characteristics of the solar regions from which large, fast CMEs arise. We examine statistically the associated flare, active region (AR), and CME characteristics of ∼40 GLEs observed since 1976 to determine how the GLE e/p and Fe/O ratios, each measured in two energy ranges, depend on those characteristics. The abundance ratios trend weakly to lower, more coronal, and less scattered values with increasing flare timescales, thermal and nonthermal peak fluxes, and measures of source AR sizes. These results and the wide range of solar longitude connections for GLEs with high abundance ratios argue against a significant role for flare effects in the GLEs. We suggest that GLE SEPs are accelerated predominately in CME-driven shocks and that a coupling of flare size and timescales with CME properties could explain the SEP abundance correlations with flare properties.


Acceleration of particles Interplanetary medium Sun: particle emission Sun: radio radiation Sun: coronal mass ejections 


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Copyright information

© U.S. Government 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. W. Kahler
    • 1
    Email author
  • E. W. Cliver
    • 1
  • A. J. Tylka
    • 2
  • W. F. Dietrich
    • 3
  1. 1.Air Force Research LaboratoryRVBXSHanscom AFBUSA
  2. 2.Space Science DivisionNaval Research LaboratoryWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Praxis, Inc.AlexandriaUSA

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