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Investigating the link between outer radiation belt losses and energetic electron escape at the magnetopause: A case study using multi-mission observations and simulations

Abstract Radiation belt flux dropout events are sudden and often significant reductions in high-energy electrons from Earth’s outer radiation belts. These losses are theorized to be due to interactions with the dayside magnetopause and possibly connected to observations of escaping magnetospheric particles. This study focuses on radiation belt losses during a moderate-strength, nonstorm dropout event on 21 November 2016. The potential loss mechanisms and the linkage to dayside escape are investigated using combined energetic electron observations throughout the dayside magnetosphere from the MMS and Van Allen Probes spacecraft along with global magnetohydronamic and test particle simulations. In particular, this nonstorm-time event simplifies the magnetospheric conditions and removes ambiguity in the interpretation of results, allowing focus on subequent losses from enhanced outward radial transport that can occur after initial compression and relaxation of the magnetopause boundary. The evolution of measured phase space density profiles suggest a total loss of approximately 60\% of the initial radiation belt content during the event. Together the in-situ observations and high-resolution simulations help to characterize the loss by bounding the following parameters: 1) the duration of the loss, 2) the relative distribution of losses and surface area of the magnetopause over which loss occurs, and 3) the escaping flux (i.e., loss) rate across the magnetopause. In particular, this study is able to estimate the surface area of loss to less than 2.9×106 RE2 and the duration of loss to greater than six hours, while also demonstrating the MLT-dependence of the escaping flux and energy spectrum .

Cohen, I.; Turner, D.; Michael, A.; Sorathia, K.; Ukhorskiy, A;

Published by: Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics      Published on: 05/2021

YEAR: 2021     DOI:

Radiation belt; Magnetospheric escape; energetic electrons; Flux dropout events; test particle simulations; Van Allen Probes

Sustained oxygen spectral gaps and their dynamic evolution in the inner magnetosphere

Abstract Van Allen Probes observations of ion spectra often show a sustained gap within a very narrow energy range throughout the full orbit. To understand their formation mechanism, we statistically investigate the characteristics of the narrow gaps for oxygen ions and find that they are most frequently observed near the noon sector with a peak occurrence rate of over 30\%. The magnetic moment (μ) of the oxygen ions in the gap shows a strong dependence on magnetic local time (MLT), with higher and lower μ in the morning and afternoon sectors, respectively. Moreover, we find through superposed epoch analysis that the gap formation also depends on geomagnetic conditions. Those gaps formed at lower magnetic moments (μ < 3000 keV/G) are associated with stable convection electric fields, which enable magnetospheric ions to follow a steady drift pattern that facilitates the gap formation by corotational drift resonance. On the other hand, gaps with higher μ values are statistically preceded by a gradual increase of geomagnetic activity. We suggest that ions within the gap were originally located inside the Alfven layer following closed drift paths, before they were transitioned into open drift paths as the convection electric field was enhanced. The sunward drift of these ions, with very low fluxes, forms a drainage void in the dayside magnetosphere manifested as the sustained gap in the oxygen spectrum. This scenario is supported by particle-tracing simulations, which reproduce most of the observed characteristics and therefore provide new insights into inner magnetospheric dynamics. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Yue, Chao; Zhou, Xu-Zhi; Bortnik, Jacob; Zong, Qiu-Gang; Li, Yuxuan; Ren, Jie; Reeves, Geoffrey; Spence, Harlan;

Published by: Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics      Published on: 04/2021

YEAR: 2021     DOI:

oxygen spectral gaps; corotational drift resonance; sustained gaps; drainage void; test particle simulations; Van Allen Probes