Climatology of high-β plasma measurements in Earth's inner magnetosphere

TitleClimatology of high-β plasma measurements in Earth's inner magnetosphere
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsCohen, R, Gerrard, AJ, Lanzerotti, LJ, Soto-Chavez, AR, Kim, H, Manweiler, JW
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Start Page717
Date Published01/2017
Keywordsclimatology; high-beta plasma; inner magnetosphere; RBSPICE; Van Allen Probes
AbstractSince their launch in August 2012, the Radiation Belt Storm Probe Ion Composition Experiment (RBSPICE) instruments on the NASA Van Allen Probes spacecraft have been making continuous high-resolution measurements of Earth's ring current plasma environment. After a full traversal through all magnetic local times, a climatology (i.e., a survey of observations) of high-beta (β) plasma events (defined here as β > 1) as measured by the RBSPICE instrument in the ∼45 keV to ∼600 keV proton energy range in the inner magnetosphere (L < 5.8) has been constructed. In this paper we report this climatology of such high-β plasma occurrences, durations, and their general characteristics. Specifically, we show that most high-β events in the RBSPICE energy range are associated with postdusk/premidnight sector particle injections or plasma patches and can last from minutes to hours. While most of these events have a β less than 2, there are a number of observations reaching β greater than 4. Other observations of particular note are high-β events during relatively minor geomagnetic storms and examples of very long duration high-β plasmas. We show that high-β plasmas are a relatively common occurrence in the inner magnetosphere during both quiet and active times. As such, the waves generated by these plasmas may have an underappreciated role in the inner magnetosphere, and thus the study of these plasmas and their instabilities may be more important than has been currently addressed.

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