Resonant interactions between relativistic electrons and electromagnetic ion cyclotron (EMIC) waves provide an effective loss mechanism for this important electron population in the outer radiation belt. The diffusive regime of electron scattering and loss has been well incorporated into radiation belt models within the framework of the quasi‐linear diffusion theory, whereas the nonlinear regime has been mostly studied with test particle simulations. There is also a less investigated, nonresonant regime of electron scattering by EMIC waves. All three regimes should be present, depending on the EMIC waves and ambient plasma properties, but the occurrence rates of these regimes have not been previously quantified. This study provides a statistical investigation of the most important EMIC wave‐packet characteristics for the diffusive, nonlinear, and nonresonant regimes of electron scattering. We utilize 3 years of observations to derive distributions of wave amplitudes, wave‐packet sizes, and rates of frequency variations within individual wave‐packets. We demonstrate that EMIC waves typically propagate as wave‐packets with ∼10 wave periods each, and that ∼3–10% of such wave‐packets can reach the regime of nonlinear resonant interaction with 2–6 MeV electrons. We show that EMIC frequency variations within wave‐packets reach 50–100% of the center frequency, corresponding to a significant high‐frequency tail in their wave power spectrum. We explore the consequences of these wave‐packet characteristics for high and low energy electron precipitation by H‐band EMIC waves and for the relative importance of quasi‐linear and nonlinear regimes of wave‐particle interactions.
Wave‐particle resonant interaction is a key process controlling energetic electron flux dynamics in the Earth's radiation belts. All existing radiation belt codes are Fokker‐Planck models relying on the quasi‐linear diffusion theory to describe the impact of wave‐particle interactions. However, in the outer radiation belt, spacecraft often detect waves sufficiently intense to interact resonantly with electrons in the nonlinear regime. In this study, we propose an approach for estimating and including the contribution of such nonlinear resonant interactions into diffusion‐based radiation belt models. We consider electron resonances with whistler‐mode wave‐packets responsible for injected plasma sheet (∼100 keV) electron acceleration to relativistic energies and/or for their precipitation into the atmosphere. Using statistics of chorus wave‐packet amplitudes and sizes (number of wave periods within one packet), we provide a rescaling factor for quasi‐linear diffusion rates, that accounts for the contribution of nonlinear interactions in long‐term electron flux dynamics. Such nonlinear effects may speed up 0.1–1 MeV electron diffusive acceleration by a factor of ×1.5–2 during disturbed periods. We discuss further applications of the proposed approach and the importance of nonlinear resonant interactions for long‐term radiation belt dynamics.more » « less
- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Electron resonant interaction with whistler mode waves is traditionally considered as one of the main drivers of radiation belt dynamics. The two main theoretical concepts available for its description are quasi‐linear theory of electron scattering by low‐amplitude waves and nonlinear theory of electron resonant trapping and phase bunching by intense waves. Both concepts successfully describe some aspects of wave‐particle interactions but predict significantly different timescales of relativistic electron acceleration. In this study, we investigate effects that can reduce the efficiency of nonlinear interactions and bridge the gap between the predictions of these two types of models. We examine the effects of random wave phase and frequency variations observed inside whistler mode wave packets on nonlinear interactions. Our results show that phase coherence and frequency fluctuations should be taken into account to accurately model electron nonlinear resonant acceleration and that, along with wave amplitude modulation, they may reduce acceleration rates to realistic, moderate levels.
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