Reproducing the observed energy-dependent structure of Earth's electron radiation belts during storm recovery with an event-specific diffusion model

We present dynamic simulations of energy-dependent losses in the radiation belt " slot region" and the formation of the two-belt structure for the quiet days after the March 1st storm. The simulations combine radial diffusion with a realistic scattering model, based data-driven spatially and temporally-resolved whistler mode hiss wave observations from the Van Allen Probes satellites. The simulations reproduce Van Allen Probes observations for all energies and L-shells (2 to 6) including (a) the strong energy-dependence to the radiation belt dynamics (b) an energy-dependent outer boundary to the inner zone that extends to higher L-shells at lower energies and (c) an " S-shaped" energy-dependent inner boundary to the outer zone that results from the competition between diffusive radial transport and losses. We find that the characteristic energy-dependent structure of the radiation belts and slot region is dynamic and can be formed gradually in ~15 days, although the " S-shape" can also be reproduced by assuming equilibrium conditions. The highest energy electrons (E > 300 keV) of the inner region of the outer belt (L ~ 4-5) also constantly decay, demonstrating that hiss wave scattering affects the outer belt during times of extended plasmasphere. Through these simulations, we explain the full structure in energy and L-shell of the belts and the slot formation by hiss scattering during storm recovery. We show the power and complexity of looking dynamically at the effects over all energies and L-shells and the need for using data-driven and event-specific conditions.
Year of Publication
Geophysical Research Letters
Date Published