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  1. Abstract

    Electron diffusion by whistler‐mode chorus waves is one of the key processes controlling the dynamics of relativistic electron fluxes in the Earth's radiation belts. It is responsible for the acceleration of sub‐relativistic electrons injected from the plasma sheet to relativistic energies as well as for their precipitation and loss into the atmosphere. Based on analytical estimates of chorus wave‐driven quasi‐linear electron energy and pitch‐angle diffusion rates, we provide analytical steady‐state solutions to the corresponding Fokker‐Planck equation for the relativistic electron distribution and flux. The impact on these steady‐state solutions of additional electromagnetic ion cyclotron waves, and of ultralow frequency waves are examined. Such steady‐state solutions correspond to hard energy spectra at 1–4 MeV, dangerous for satellite electronics, and represent attractors for the system dynamics in the presence of sufficiently strong driving by continuous injections of 10–300 keV electrons. Therefore, these analytical steady‐state solutions provide a simple means for estimating the most extreme electron energy spectra potentially encountered in the outer radiation belt, despite the great variability of injections and plasma conditions. These analytical steady‐state solutions are compared with numerical simulations based on the full Fokker‐Planck equation and with relativistic electron flux spectra measured by satellites during one extreme event and three strong events of high time‐integrated geomagnetic activity, demonstrating a good agreement.

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  2. Abstract

    Relativistic electron losses in Earth's radiation belts are usually attributed to electron resonant scattering by electromagnetic waves. One of the most important wave modes for such scattering is the electromagnetic ion cyclotron (EMIC) mode. Within the quasi‐linear diffusion framework, the cyclotron resonance of relativistic electrons with EMIC waves results in very fast electron precipitation to the atmosphere. However, wave intensities often exceed the threshold for nonlinear resonant interaction, and such intense EMIC waves have been shown to transport electrons away from the loss cone due to theforce bunchingeffect. In this study we investigate if this transport can block electron precipitation. We combine test particle simulations, low‐altitude observations of EMIC‐driven electron precipitation by the Electron Losses and Fields Investigations mission, and ground‐based EMIC observations. Comparing simulations and observations, we show that, despite the low pitch‐angle electrons being transported away from the loss cone, the scattering at higher pitch angles results in the loss cone filling and electron precipitation.

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  3. Abstract

    Resonant scattering by electromagnetic ion cyclotron (EMIC) waves is one of the most effective mechanisms of relativistic electron losses in Earth’s inner magnetosphere. Low‐altitude spacecraft measurements, however, often show that the energy range of precipitating electrons is wider than theoretical predictions based on the cold plasma dispersion of EMIC waves. To explain this discrepancy, we examine the diffusion rates of EMIC waves by including hot plasma effects in their dispersion relation. Using the observed ion distribution functions, we investigate the hot plasma effects on the EMIC wave dispersion for a wide frequency range. We develop analytical equations for hot plasma effects on EMIC dispersion, and apply this model to diffusion rate evaluations. We show that hot ion effects tend to increase the minimum resonant energy for the frequency range around wave intensity maxima, but can decrease the minimum resonant energy for the higher‐frequency part of wave spectra.

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  4. 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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