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On the Formation of Phantom Electron Phase Space Density Peaks in Single Spacecraft Radiation Belt Data

Abstract This paper examines the rapid losses and acceleration of trapped relativistic and ultrarelativistic electron populations in the Van Allen radiation belt during the September 7-9, 2017, geomagnetic storm. By analyzing the dynamics of the last closed drift shell (LCDS) and the electron flux and phase space density (PSD), we show that the electron dropouts are consistent with magnetopause shadowing and outward radial diffusion to the compressed LCDS. During the recovery phase an in-bound pass of Van Allen Probe A shows an apparent local peak in PSD, but which does not exist. A careful analysis of the multipoint measurements by the Van Allen Probes reveals instead how the apparent PSD peak arises from aliasing monotonic PSD profiles which are rapidly increasing due to acceleration from very fast inwards radial diffusion. In the absence of such multi-satellite conjunctions during fast acceleration events, such peaks might otherwise be associated with local acceleration processes.

Olifer, L.; Mann, I.; Ozeke, L.; Morley, S.; Louis, H.;

Published by: Geophysical Research Letters      Published on: 05/2021

YEAR: 2021     DOI:

Van Allen Probes; magnetopause shadowing; ULF wave radial diffusion; electron phase space density


Modeling cross L shell impacts of magnetopause shadowing and ULF wave radial diffusion in the Van Allen belts

We present simulations of the outer electron radiation belt using a new ULF wave-driven radial diffusion model, including empirical representations of loss due to chorus and plasmaspheric hiss. With an outer boundary condition constrained by in situ electron flux observations, we focus on the impacts of magnetopause shadowing and outward radial diffusion in the heart of the radiation belt. Third invariant conserving solutions are combined to simulate the L shell and time dependence of the differential flux at a fixed energy. Results for the geomagnetically quiet year of 2008 demonstrate not only remarkable cross L shell impacts from magnetopause shadowing but also excellent agreement with the in situ observations even though no internal acceleration source is included in the model. Our model demonstrates powerful utility for capturing the cross-L impacts of magnetopause shadowing with significant prospects for improved space weather forecasting. The potential role of the plasmasphere in creating a third belt is also discussed.

Ozeke, Louis; Mann, Ian; Turner, Drew; Murphy, Kyle; Degeling, Alex; Rae, Jonathan; Milling, David;

Published by: Geophysical Research Letters      Published on: 10/2014

YEAR: 2014     DOI: 10.1002/2014GL060787

magnetopause shadowing; Radiation belt; ULF wave radial diffusion