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  1. Abstract

    During geomagnetic storms relativistic outer radiation belt electron flux exhibits large variations on rapid time scales of minutes to days. Many competing acceleration and loss processes contribute to the dynamic variability of the radiation belts; however, distinguishing the relative contribution of each mechanism remains a major challenge as they often occur simultaneously and over a wide range of spatiotemporal scales. In this study, we develop a new comprehensive model for storm‐time radiation belt dynamics by incorporating electron wave‐particle interactions with parallel propagating whistler mode waves into our global test‐particle model of the outer belt. Electron trajectories are evolved through the electromagnetic fields generated from the Multiscale Atmosphere‐Geospace Environment (MAGE) global geospace model. Pitch angle scattering and energization of the test particles are derived from analytical expressions for quasi‐linear diffusion coefficients that depend directly on the magnetic field and density from the magnetosphere simulation. Using a study of the 17 March 2013 geomagnetic storm, we demonstrate that resonance with lower band chorus waves can produce rapid relativistic flux enhancements during the main phase of the storm. While electron loss from the outer radiation belt is dominated by loss through the magnetopause, wave‐particle interactions drive significant atmospheric precipitation. We also show that the storm‐time magnetic field and cold plasma density evolution produces strong, local variations of the magnitude and energy of the wave‐particle interactions and is critical to fully capturing the dynamic variability of the radiation belts caused by wave‐particle interactions.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2025
  2. Abstract

    Whistler mode waves in the plasmasphere and plumes drive significant losses of energetic electrons from the Earth's radiation belts into the upper atmosphere. In this study, we conducted a survey of amplitude‐dependent whistler wave properties and analyzed their associated background plasma conditions and electron fluxes in the plasmasphere and plumes. Our findings indicate that extremely large amplitude (>400 pT) whistler waves (a) tend to occur atL > 4 over the midnight‐dawn‐noon sectors and have small wave normal angles; (b) are more likely to occur during active geomagnetic conditions associated with higher fluxes of anisotropic electrons at 10 s keV energies; and (c) tend to occur at higher latitudes up to 20° with increasing amplitude. These results suggest that extremely large amplitude whistler waves in the plasmasphere and plumes could be generated locally by injected electrons during substorms and further amplified when propagating to higher latitudes.

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  3. Abstract

    Whistler‐mode chorus waves play an essential role in the acceleration and loss of energetic electrons in the Earth’s inner magnetosphere, with the more intense waves producing the most dramatic effects. However, it is challenging to predict the amplitude of strong chorus waves due to the imbalanced nature of the data set, that is, there are many more non‐chorus data points than strong chorus waves. Thus, traditional models usually underestimate chorus wave amplitudes significantly during active times. Using an imbalanced regressive (IR) method, we develop a neural network model of lower‐band (LB) chorus waves using 7‐year observations from the EMFISIS instrument onboard Van Allen Probes. The feature selection process suggests that the auroral electrojet index alone captures most of the variations of chorus waves. The large amplitude of strong chorus waves can be predicted for the first time. Furthermore, our model shows that the equatorial LB chorus’s spatiotemporal evolution is similar to the drift path of substorm‐injected electrons. We also show that the chorus waves have a peak amplitude at the equator in the source MLT near midnight, but toward noon, there is a local minimum in amplitude at the equator with two off‐equator amplitude peaks in both hemispheres, likely caused by the bifurcated drift paths of substorm injections on the dayside. The IR‐based chorus model will improve radiation belt prediction by providing chorus wave distributions, especially storm‐time strong chorus. Since data imbalance is ubiquitous and inherent in space physics and other physical systems, imbalanced regressive methods deserve more attention in space physics.

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  4. Abstract

    In this study, using Van Allen Probes observations we identify 81 events of electron flux bursts with butterfly pitch angle distributions for tens of keV electrons with close correlations with chorus wave bursts in the Earth's magnetosphere. We use the high‐rate electron flux data from Magnetic Electron Ion Spectrometer available during 2013–2019 and the simultaneous whistler‐mode wave measurements from Electric and Magnetic Field Instrument Suite and Integrated Science to identify the correlated events. The events are categorized into 67 upper‐band chorus (0.5–0.8fce) dominated events and 14 other events where lower‐band chorus (0.05–0.5fce) has modest or strong amplitudes (fcerepresents electron cyclotron frequency). Each electron flux burst correlated with chorus has a short timescale of ∼1 min or less, suggesting potential nonlinear effects. The statistical distribution of selected electron burst events tends to occur in the post‐midnight sector atL > 5 under disturbed geomagnetic conditions, and is associated with chorus waves with relatively strong magnetic wave amplitude and small wave normal angle. The frequency dependence of the electron flux peaks agrees with the cyclotron resonant condition, indicating the effects of chorus‐induced electron acceleration. Our study provides new insights into understanding the rapid nonlinear interactions between chorus and energetic electrons.

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  5. Abstract

    The present study addresses two basic questions related to banded chorus waves in the Earth’s magnetosphere: 1) are chorus spectral gaps formed near the equatorial source region or during propagation away from the equator? and 2) why are chorus spectral gaps usually located below 0.5fce(fce: electron gyro‐frequency)? By analyzing Van Allen Probes data, we demonstrate that chorus spectral gaps are observed in the source region where chorus waves propagate both in the parallel and anti‐parallel directions to the magnetic field. Chorus spectral gaps below 0.5fceare associated with electron parallel acceleration at energies above the equatorial Landau resonant energies. We explain that initially generated chorus waves quickly isotropize the electron distribution through Landau resonant acceleration, and the isotropization occurs for higher energies at higher latitudes. The isotropized population, after returning to the magnetic equator, leads to a chorus gap typically below 0.5fceby suppressing wave excitation.

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  6. Abstract

    The very‐low frequency (VLF) and low frequency (LF) waves from ground transmitters propagate in the ionospheric waveguide, and a portion of their power leaks to the Earth's inner radiation belt and slot region where it can cause electron precipitation loss. Using Van Allen Probes observations, we perform a survey of the VLF and LF transmitter waves at frequencies from 14 to 200 kHz. The statistical electric and magnetic wave amplitudes and frequency spectra are obtained at 1 < L < 3. Based on a recent study on the propagation of VLF transmitter waves, we divide the total wave power into ducted and unducted portions, and model the wave normal angle of unducted waves with dependences onLshell, magnetic latitude, and wave frequency. At lower frequencies, the unducted waves are launched along the vertical direction and the wave normal angle increases during the propagation until reaching the Gendrin angle; at higher frequencies, the normal angle of unducted waves follows the variation of Gendrin angle. We calculate the bounce‐averaged pitch angle and momentum diffusion coefficients of electrons due to ducted and unducted VLF and LF waves. Unducted and ducted waves cause efficient pitch angle scattering atL = 1.5 and 2.5, respectively. Although the wave power from ground transmitters at frequencies higher than 30 kHz is low, these waves can cause the pitch angle scattering of lower energy (2–200 keV atL = 1.5) electrons, which cannot resonate with the VLF transmitter waves at frequencies below 30 kHz, lightning generated whistlers, or plasmaspheric hiss.

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  7. Abstract

    We analyze the drivers, distribution, and properties of the relativistic electron precipitation (REP) detected near midnight by the Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellites (POES) and Meteorological Operational (MetOp) satellites, critical for understanding radiation belt losses and nightside atmospheric energy input. REP is either driven by wave‐particle interactions (isolated precipitation within the outer radiation belt), or current sheet scattering (CSS; precipitation with energy dispersion), or a combination of the two. We evaluate the L‐MLT distribution for the identified REP events in which only one process evidently drove the precipitation (∼10% of the REP near midnight). We show that the two mechanisms coexist and drive precipitation in a broadL‐shell range (4–7). However, wave‐driven REP was also observed atL < 4, whereas CSS‐driven REP was also detected atL > 7. Moreover, we estimate the magnetotail stretching during each REP event using the magnetic field observations from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES). Both wave‐particle interactions and CSS drive REP in association with a stretched magnetotail, although CSS‐driven REP potentially shows more pronounced stretching. Wave‐driven REP events are localized inLshell and often occur on spatial scales of <0.3 L. Using either proton precipitation (observed by POES/MetOp during wave‐driven REP) as a proxy for electromagnetic ion cyclotron (EMIC) wave activity or wave observations (from GOES and the Van Allen Probes) at the conjugate event location, we find that ∼73% wave‐driven REP events are associated with EMIC waves.

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  8. Abstract

    Electron cyclotron harmonic (ECH) waves are known to precipitate plasma sheet electrons into the upper atmosphere and generate diffuse aurorae. In this study, we report quasiperiodic rising (3 events) and falling tone (22 events) ECH waves observed by Van Allen Probes and evaluate their properties. These rising and falling tone ECH waves prefer to occur during quiet geomagnetic conditions over the dusk to midnight sector in relatively high‐density (10–80 cm−3) regions. Their repetition periods increase with increasingLshell atL < 6, ranging from ∼60 to 110 s. The wave element duration varies from 10 to 130 s peaking at ∼40 s and the chirping rate peaks at ∼50 (∼−50) Hz/s for rising (falling) tones. Our findings reveal intriguing features of the ECH wave properties, which provide new insights into their generation and potential effects on electron precipitation.

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  9. Abstract

    Evolution of large‐scale and fine‐scale plasmaspheric plume density structures was examined using space‐ground coordinated observations of a plume during the 7–8 September 2015 storm. The large‐scale plasmaspheric plume density at Van Allen Probes A was roughly proportional to the total electron content (TEC) along the satellite footprint, indicating that TEC distribution represents the large‐scale plume density distribution in the magnetosphere. The plasmaspheric plume contained fine‐scale density structures and subauroral polarization streams (SAPS) velocity fluctuations. High‐resolution TEC data support the interpretation that the fine‐scale plume structures were blobs with ∼300 km size and ∼500–800 m/s in the ionosphere (∼3,000 km size and ∼5–8 km/s speed in the magnetosphere), emerging at the plume base and drifting to the plume. The short‐baseline Global Navigation Satellite System receivers detected smaller‐scale (∼10 km in the ionosphere, ∼100 km in the magnetosphere) TEC gradients and their sunward drift. Fine‐scale density structures were associated with enhanced phase scintillation index. Velocity fluctuations were found to be spatial structures of fine‐scale SAPS flows that drifted sunward with density irregularities down to ∼10 s of meter‐scale. Fine‐scale density structures followed a power law with a slope of ∼−5/3, and smaller‐scale density structures developed slower than the larger‐scale structures. We suggest that turbulent SAPS flows created fine‐scale density structures and their cascading to smaller scales. We also found that the plume fine‐scale density structures were associated with whistler‐mode intensity modulation, and localized electron precipitation in the plume. Structured precipitation in the plume may contribute to ionospheric heating, SAPS velocity reduction, and conductance enhancements.

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  10. Abstract

    In this study, we use observations of THEMIS and Van Allen Probes to statistically study the modulations of chorus emissions by variations of background magnetic field and plasma density in the ultra low frequency range. The modulation events are identified automatically and divided into three types according to whether the chorus intensity correlates to the variations of the magnetic field only (Type B), plasma density only (Type N), or both (Type NB). For the THEMIS observations, the occurrences of the Types B and N are larger than Type NB, while for the Van Allen Probes observations, most events are of Type N. The chorus intensity is mostly correlated to the magnetic field strength negatively and plasma density positively. The chorus intensity tends to increase when the magnitude of the magnetic field perturbation increases, but little dependence on plasma density perturbation amplitude is found.

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