The Role of the Dynamic Plasmapause in Outer Radiation Belt Electron Flux Enhancement
Abstract The plasmasphere is a highly dynamic toroidal region of cold, dense plasma around Earth. Plasma waves exist both inside and outside this region and can contribute to the loss and acceleration of high energy outer radiation belt electrons. Early observational studies found an apparent correlation on long time scales between the observed inner edge of the outer radiation belt and the modeled innermost plasmapause location. More recent work using high-resolution Van Allen Probes data has found a more complex relationship. For this study, we determine the standoff distance of the location of maximum electron flux of the outer belt MeV electrons from the plasmapause following rapid enhancement events. We find that the location of the outer radiation belt based on maximum electron flux is consistently outside the plasmapause, with a peak radial standoff distance of ∆L ~ 1. We discuss the implications this result has for acceleration mechanisms.
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Geophysical Research Letters