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Radiation belt electron acceleration by chorus waves during the 17 March 2013 storm

AuthorThorne, R.; Li, W.; Ma, Q.; Ni, B.; Bortnik, J.;
KeywordsAtmospheric waves; Van Allen Belts; Van Allen Probes
AbstractLocal acceleration driven by whistler-mode chorus waves is suggested to be fundamentally important for accelerating seed electron population to ultra-relativistic energies in the outer radiation belt. In this study, we quantitatively evaluate chorus-driven electron acceleration during the 17 March 2013 storm, when Van Allen Probes observed very rapid electron acceleration up to multi MeV within \~15 hours. A clear peak in electron phase space density observed at L* \~ 4 indicates that the internal local acceleration process was operating. We construct the global distribution of chorus wave intensity from the low-altitude electron measurements by multiple POES satellites over a broad L-MLT region, which is used to simulate the radiation belt electron dynamics driven by chorus waves. Our simulation results show remarkable agreement with the observed electron PSD near its peak in timing, energy dependence, and pitch angle distribution, but other loss processes and radial diffusion may be required to explain the differences in observation and simulation at other locations away from the PSD peak. Our simulation results suggest that local acceleration by chorus waves is likely to be a robust and repetitive process and plays a critical role in accelerating radiation belt electrons from injected convective energies (\~ 100 keV) to ultra-relativistic energies (multi MeV).
Year of Publication2014
Number of Pages
Date Published08/2014