Relativistic electron pitch-angle scattering by electromagnetic ion cyclotron waves during geomagnetic storms

Summers, Danny and Thorne, Richard M. (2003) Relativistic electron pitch-angle scattering by electromagnetic ion cyclotron waves during geomagnetic storms. Journal of Geophysical Research, 108 (A4). pp. 1-12. ISSN 2156-2202

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During magnetic storms, relativistic electrons execute nearly circular orbits about the Earth and traverse a spatially confined zone within the duskside plasmapause where electromagnetic ion cyclotron (EMIC) waves are preferentially excited. We examine the mechanism of electron pitch-angle diffusion by gyroresonant interaction with EMIC waves as a cause of relativistic electron precipitation loss from the outer radiation belt. Detailed calculations are carried out of electron cyclotron resonant pitch-angle diffusion coefficients Dααfor EMIC waves in a multi-ion (H+, He+, O+) plasma. A simple functional form for Dαα is used, based on quasi-linear theory that is valid for parallel-propagating, small-amplitude electromagnetic waves of general spectral density. For typical observed EMIC wave amplitudes (l-10nT), the rates of resonant pitch-angle diffusion are close to the limit of "strong" diffusion, leading to intense electron precipitation. In order for gyroresonance to take place, electrons must possess a minimum kinetic energy Emin which depends on the value of the ratio (electron plasma frequency/ electron gyrofrequency); Emin also depends on the properties of the EMIC wave spectrum and the ion composition. Geophysically interesting scattering, with Emin comparable to 1 MeV, can only occur in regions where (electron plasma frequency/electron gyrofrequency) ≥ 10, which typically occurs within the duskside plasmapause. Under such conditions, electrons with energy ≥ 1 MeV can be removed from the outer radiation belt by EMIC wave scattering during a magnetic storm over a time-scale of several hours to a day.

Item Type: Article
Item ID: 487
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Mathematics and Statistics
Date: 3 April 2003
Date Type: Publication

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