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

AuthorLi, W.; Thorne, R.; Ma, Q.; Ni, B.; Bortnik, J.; Baker, D.; Spence, H.; Reeves, G.; Kanekal, S.; Green, J.; Kletzing, C.; Kurth, W.; Hospodarsky, G.; Blake, J.; Fennell, J.; Claudepierre, S.;
KeywordsVan Allen Probes
AbstractLocal acceleration driven by whistler-mode chorus waves is fundamentally important for accelerating seed electron populations to highly relativistic energies in the outer radiation belt. In this study, we quantitatively evaluate chorus-driven electron acceleration during the 17 March 2013 storm, when the Van Allen Probes observed very rapid electron acceleration up to several MeV within ~12 hours. A clear radial peak in electron phase space density (PSD) observed near L* ~4 indicates that an internal local acceleration process was operating. We construct the global distribution of chorus wave intensity from the low-altitude electron measurements made by multiple Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellites (POES) satellites over a broad region, which is ultimately used to simulate the radiation belt electron dynamics driven by chorus waves. Our simulation results show remarkable agreement in magnitude, timing, energy dependence, and pitch angle distribution with the observed electron PSD near its peak location. However, radial diffusion and other loss processes may be required to explain the differences between the observation and simulation at other locations away from the PSD peak. Our simulation results, together with previous studies, suggest that local acceleration by chorus waves is a robust and ubiquitous process and plays a critical role in accelerating injected seed electrons with convective energies (~100 keV) to highly relativistic energies (several MeV).
Year of Publication2014
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Number of Pages4681-4693
Date Published06/2014