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What Causes Radiation Belt Enhancements: A Survey of the Van Allen Probes Era

AuthorBoyd, A.J.; Turner, D.L.; Reeves, G.D.; Spence, H.E.; Baker, D.N.; Blake, J.B.;
KeywordsLocal Acceleration; Phase space density; Radiation belt; THEMIS; Van Allen Probes
AbstractWe survey radiation belt enhancement events during the Van Allen Probes era to determine what mechanism is the dominant cause of enhancements and where it is most effective. Two primary mechanisms have been proposed: (1) betatron/Fermi acceleration due to the Earthward radial transport of electrons which produces monotonic gradients in phase space density (PSD) and (2) \textquotedblleftlocal acceleration" due to gyro/Landau resonant interaction with electromagnetic waves which produces radially localized, growing peaks in PSD. To differentiate between these processes, we examine radial profiles of PSD in adiabatic coordinates using data from the Van Allen Probes and THEMIS satellites for 80 outer belt enhancement events from October 2012-April 2017 This study shows that local acceleration is the dominant acceleration mechanism for MeV electrons in the outer belt, with 87\% of the enhancement events exhibiting growing peaks. The strong correlation of the location of these with geomagnetic activity further supports this conclusion.
Year of Publication2018
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Number of Pages
Date Published05/2018