Relativistic Electron Enhancements Through Successive Dipolarizations During a CIR-Driven Storm

Senlin Xiong, Lei Dai, Chi Wang, John R. Wygant, Cynthia A. Cattell, Xin Tao, Daniel N. Baker, J. Bernard Blake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Relativistic electrons in the Earth's radiation belts are highly dynamic on a variety of timescales during the geomagnetic storm. Using Van Allen Probe spacecraft data, we investigate rapid enhancements of relativistic electrons in the outer radiation belt during a corotating interaction region (CIR) driven storm. Successive dipolarizations associated with 100keV-MeV electron injections are identified. The evolution of energetic electrons is analyzed in the space of adiabatic invariants (μ, K and L*). Within less than a few hours, the phase space density (PSD) of the relativistic electrons promptly increases corresponding to injections of MeV electrons. The PSD of MeV electrons cumulatively increases by a factor of 4–10 at L* = 4.5–5.8 which is likely due to successive groups of dipolarizations and injections. Both near-equatorial (small K) and off-equatorial (large K) energetic electrons increase significantly. The increases in the near-equatorial electrons are still dominant, suggesting the operation of betatron acceleration. The event study shows that successive dipolarizations associated with the CIR-driven storm may rapidly affect relativistic electrons of the outer radiation belt over a wide range in the phase space.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021JA030088
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work at NSSC was supported by NNSFC grants (41731070, 41874175, 42174207, 42188101), the Specialized Research Fund for State Key Laboratories of China, the Strategic Pionner Program on Space Science II, Chinese Academy of Sciences, grants XDA15350201 and XDA15052500, and Preliminary Study Program on Civil Aerospace Technology, No. D050103.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


  • dipolarization
  • phase space density
  • radiation belts
  • relativistic electron
  • substorm injection


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