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A density-temperature description of the outer electron radiation belt during geomagnetic storms

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date01/2010
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Journal numberA01208
Number of pages20
Original languageEnglish


Bi-Maxwellian fits are made to energetic-electron flux measurements from seven satellites in geosynchronous orbit, yielding a number density (n) and temperature (T) description of the outer electron radiation belt. For 54.5 spacecraft years of measurements the median value of n is 3.7 × 10−4 cm−3, and the median value of T is 148 keV. General statistical properties of n, T, and the 1.1–1.5 MeV flux F are investigated, including local-time and solar-cycle dependencies. Using superposed-epoch analysis where the zero epoch is convection onset, the evolution of the outer electron radiation belt through high-speed-stream-driven storms is investigated. The number-density decay during the calm before the storm, relativistic-electron dropouts and recoveries, and the heating of the outer electron radiation belt during storms are analyzed. Using four different “triggers” (sudden storm commencement (SSC), southward interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) portions of coronal mass ejection (CME) sheaths, southward-IMF portions of magnetic clouds, and minimum Dst) a selection of CME-driven storms are analyzed with superposed-epoch techniques. For CME-driven storms, only a very modest density decay prior to storm onset is found. In addition, the compression of the outer electron radiation belt at the time of SSC is analyzed, the number-density increase and temperature decrease during storm main phase are characterized, and the increase in density and temperature during storm recovery phase is determined. During the different phases of storms, changes in the flux are sometimes in response to changes in the temperature, sometimes to changes in the number density, and sometimes to changes in both. Differences are found between the density-temperature and flux descriptions, and it is concluded that more information is available using the density-temperature description.

Bibliographic note

Copyright (2010) American Geophysical Union. Further reproduction or electronic distribution is not permitted