We have investigated the seasonal and diurnal variation of SAPS (Subauroral Polarization Streams) occurrence based on 3663 SAPS events identified in DMSP ion drift observations in the Northern Hemisphere during July 2001 and June 2003. Their relationships with high latitude convection electric field, substorm, and ionospheric conductivity have been addressed. SAPS occurrences show a clear seasonal and diurnal variation with the occurrence rates varying by a factor of 5. It is found that the convection electric field might play a dominant role in association with SAPS occurrence. Peak convection electric fields mark the occurrence maximum of SAPS. Substorm might play a secondary role related to SAPS occurrence. It account for the secondary maximum in SAPS occurrence rate during December solstice. Our work demonstrates that the substorm induced electric field can develop SAPS during relatively low global convection. Somewhat low fluxtube-integrated conductivity is favorable for SAPS to develop. Another topic is the temporal relationship between SAPS and substorm phases. SAPS can occur at substorm onset, substorm expansion and recovery phases. Most probably SAPS tend to occur 60 min/45 min after substorm onset during quiet/more disturbed geomagnetic activity, respectively. This indicates that enhanced global convection helps SAPS to develop quicker during substorms. The peak plasma velocity of SAPS is increased on average only by 5–10 % by the substorm process.