1Tihany Geophysical Observatory, Eötvös Loránd Geophysical Institute, Hungary
2Hermanus Geomagnetic Observatory, Hermanus, South Africa
3Dept. of Physics and Electronics, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa
4Geodetic and Geophysical Research Institute, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Sopron, Hungary
5Belsk Geophysical Observatory, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland
6Nurmijärvi Geophysical Observatory, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Finland
7Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory, University of Oulu, Finland
Abstract. It is known that under certain solar wind (SW)/interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) conditions (e.g. high SW speed, low cone angle) the occurrence of ground-level Pc3–4 pulsations is more likely. In this paper we demonstrate that in the event of anomalously low SW particle density, Pc3 activity is extremely low regardless of otherwise favourable SW speed and cone angle. We re-investigate the SW control of Pc3 pulsation activity through a statistical analysis and two empirical models with emphasis on the influence of SW density on Pc3 activity. We utilise SW and IMF measurements from the OMNI project and ground-based magnetometer measurements from the MM100 array to relate SW and IMF measurements to the occurrence of Pc3 activity. Multiple linear regression and artificial neural network models are used in iterative processes in order to identify sets of SW-based input parameters, which optimally reproduce a set of Pc3 activity data. The inclusion of SW density in the parameter set significantly improves the models. Not only the density itself, but other density related parameters, such as the dynamic pressure of the SW, or the standoff distance of the magnetopause work equally well in the model. The disappearance of Pc3s during low-density events can have at least four reasons according to the existing upstream wave theory: 1. Pausing the ion-cyclotron resonance that generates the upstream ultra low frequency waves in the absence of protons, 2. Weakening of the bow shock that implies less efficient reflection, 3. The SW becomes sub-Alfvénic and hence it is not able to sweep back the waves propagating upstream with the Alfvén-speed, and 4. The increase of the standoff distance of the magnetopause (and of the bow shock). Although the models cannot account for the lack of Pc3s during intervals when the SW density is extremely low, the resulting sets of optimal model inputs support the generation of mid latitude Pc3 activity predominantly through upstream waves.