The role of small-scale ion injections in the buildup of Earth\textquoterights ring current pressure: Van Allen Probes observations of the March 17 <sup>th</sup> , 2013 storm
Energetic particle transport into the inner magnetosphere during geomagnetic storms is responsible for significant plasma pressure enhancement, which is the driver of large-scale currents that control the global electrodynamics within the magnetosphere-ionosphere system. Therefore, understanding the transport of plasma from the tail deep into the near-Earth magnetosphere, as well as the energization processes associated with this transport, is essential for a comprehensive knowledge of the near-Earth space environment. During the main phase of a geomagnetic storm on March 17th 2013 (minimum Dst ~ -137 nT), the Radiation Belt Storm Probes Ion Composition Experiment (RBSPICE) instrument on the Van Allen Probes observed frequent, small-scale proton injections deep into the inner nightside magnetosphere in the region L ~ 4 \textendash 6. Although isolated injections have been previously reported inside geosynchronous orbit, the large number of small-scale injections observed in this event suggests that, during geomagnetic storms injections provide a robust mechanism for transporting energetic ions deep into the inner magnetosphere. In order to understand the role that these injections play in the ring current dynamics, we determine the following properties for each injection: i) associated pressure enhancement, ii) the time duration of this enhancement, iii) and the lowest and highest energy channels exhibiting a sharp increase in their intensities. Based on these properties, we estimate the effect of these small-scale injections on the pressure buildup during the storm. We find that this mode of transport could make a substantial contribution to the total energy gain in the storm-time inner magnetosphere.
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Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics