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Annales Geophysicae


The Physics of Auroral Zone Electrons II (PHAZE II) sounding rocket was launched in February 1997 into active pre-midnight aurora. The resulting high frequency wave data are dominated by Langmuir waves. Consistent with many previous observations the Langmuir waves are sporadic, occurring in bursts lasting up to a few hundred ms. We compute statistics of the electric field amplitudes of these Langmuir waves, with two results. First, the shape of the distribution of running averages of the electric field amplitudes remains approximately stationary for a large range of widths of running average less than ~0.3 ms and for a large range of widths exceeding about 1 ms. The interpretation of this transition timescale is unclear but appears unlikely to be of instrumental origin. Second, for 2.6-ms running averages, corresponding to the latter range, the distribution of the logarithm of electric field amplitudes matches a Gaussian form very well for all nine cases studied in detail, hence the statistics are lognormal. These distributions are consistent with stochastic growth theory (SGT).