The Effect of Plasma Boundaries on the Dynamic Evolution of Relativistic Radiation Belt Electrons

Abstract Understanding the dynamic evolution of relativistic electrons in the Earth s radiation belts during both storm and nonstorm times is a challenging task. The U.S. National Science Foundation s Geospace Environment Modeling (GEM) focus group “Quantitative Assessment of Radiation Belt Modeling” has selected two storm time and two nonstorm time events that occurred during the second year of the Van Allen Probes mission for in-depth study. Here, we perform simulations for these GEM challenge events using the 3D Versatile Electron Radiation Belt code. We set up the outer L* boundary using data from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites and validate the simulation results against satellite observations from both the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites and Van Allen Probe missions for 0.9-MeV electrons. Our results show that the position of the plasmapause plays a significant role in the dynamic evolution of relativistic electrons. The magnetopause shadowing effect is included by using last closed drift shell, and it is shown to significantly contribute to the dropouts of relativistic electrons at high L*. We perform simulations using four different empirical radial diffusion coefficient models for the GEM challenge events, and the results show that these simulations reproduce the general dynamic evolution of relativistic radiation belt electrons. However, in the events shown here, simulations using the radial diffusion coefficients from Brautigam and Albert (2000) produce the best agreement with satellite observations.
Year of Publication
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Date Published