On the loss mechanisms of radiation belt electron dropouts during the 12 September 2014 geomagnetic storm

Radiation belt electron dropouts indicate electron flux decay to the background level during geomagnetic storms, which is commonly attributed to the effects of wave-induced pitch angle scattering and magnetopause shadowing. To investigate the loss mechanisms of radiation belt electron dropouts triggered by a solar wind dynamic pressure pulse event on 12 September 2014, we comprehensively analyzed the particle and wave measurements from Van Allen Probes. The dropout event was divided into three periods: before the storm, the initial phase of the storm, and the main phase of the storm. The electron pitch angle distributions (PADs) and electron flux dropouts during the initial and main phases of this storm were investigated, and the evolution of the radial profile of electron phase space density (PSD) and the (μ, K) dependence of electron PSD dropouts (where μ, K, and L* are the three adiabatic invariants) were analyzed. The energy-independent decay of electrons at L > 4.5 was accompanied by butterfly PADs, suggesting that the magnetopause shadowing process may be the major loss mechanism during the initial phase of the storm at L > 4.5. The features of electron dropouts and 90°-peaked PADs were observed only for >1 MeV electrons at L < 4, indicating that the wave-induced scattering effect may dominate the electron loss processes at the lower L-shell during the main phase of the storm. Evaluations of the (μ, K) dependence of electron PSD drops and calculations of the minimum electron resonant energies of H+-band electromagnetic ion cyclotron (EMIC) waves support the scenario that the observed PSD drop peaks around L* = 3.9 may be caused mainly by the scattering of EMIC waves, whereas the drop peaks around L* = 4.6 may result from a combination of EMIC wave scattering and outward radial diffusion.
Year of Publication
Earth and Planetary Physics
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Date Published