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  1. Relativistic electron scattering by electromagnetic ion cyclotron (EMIC) waves is one of the most effective mechanisms for >1 MeV electron flux depletion in the Earth's radiation belts. Resonant electron interaction with EMIC waves is traditionally described by quasi-linear diffusion equations, although spacecraft observations often report EMIC waves with intensities sufficiently large to trigger nonlinear resonant interaction with electrons. An important consequence of such nonlinear interaction is the resonance broadening effect due to high wave amplitudes. In this study, we quantify this resonance broadening effect in electron pitch-angle diffusion rates. We show that resonance broadening can significantly increase the pitch-angle range of EMIC-scattered electrons. This increase is especially important for ∼1 MeV electrons, where, without the resonance broadening, only those near the loss cone (with low fluxes) can resonate with EMIC waves.

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  2. Abstract

    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.

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  3. Abstract

    Energetic electron precipitation into Earth's atmosphere is an important process for radiation belt dynamics and magnetosphere‐ionosphere coupling. The most intense form of such precipitation is microbursts—short‐lived bursts of precipitating fluxes detected on low‐altitude spacecraft. Due to the wide energy range of microbursts (from sub‐relativistic to relativistic energies) and their transient nature, they are thought to be predominantly associated with energetic electron scattering into the loss cone via cyclotron resonance with field‐aligned intense whistler‐mode chorus waves. In this study, we show that intense sub‐relativistic microbursts may be generated via electron nonlinear Landau resonance with very oblique whistler‐mode waves. We combine a theoretical model of nonlinear Landau resonance, equatorial observations of intense very oblique whistler‐mode waves, and conjugate low‐altitude observations of <200 keV electron precipitation. Based on model comparison with observed precipitation, we suggest that such sub‐relativistic microbursts occur by plasma sheet (0.1 − 10 keV) electron trapping in nonlinear Landau resonance, resulting in acceleration to ≲200 keV energies and simultaneous transport into the loss cone. The proposed scenario of intense sub‐relativistic (≲200 keV) microbursts demonstrates the importance of very oblique whistler‐mode waves for radiation belt dynamics.

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