Transport and Loss of Ring Current Electrons Inside Geosynchronous Orbit During the 17 March 2013 Storm

N. A. Aseev, Y. Y. Shprits, D. Wang, J. Wygant, A. Y. Drozdov, A. C. Kellerman, G. D. Reeves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Ring current electrons (1–100 keV) have received significant attention in recent decades, but many questions regarding their major transport and loss mechanisms remain open. In this study, we use the four-dimensional Versatile Electron Radiation Belt code to model the enhancement of phase space density that occurred during the 17 March 2013 storm. Our model includes global convection, radial diffusion, and scattering into the Earth's atmosphere driven by whistler-mode hiss and chorus waves. We study the sensitivity of the model to the boundary conditions, global electric field, the electric field associated with subauroral polarization streams, electron loss rates, and radial diffusion coefficients. The results of the code are almost insensitive to the model parameters above 4.5 R E R E , which indicates that the general dynamics of the electrons between 4.5 R E and the geostationary orbit can be explained by global convection. We found that the major discrepancies between the model and data can stem from the inaccurate electric field model and uncertainties in lifetimes. We show that additional mechanisms that are responsible for radial transport are required to explain the dynamics of ≥40-keV electrons, and the inclusion of the radial diffusion rates that are typically assumed in radiation belt studies leads to a better agreement with the data. The overall effect of subauroral polarization streams on the electron phase space density profiles seems to be smaller than the uncertainties in other input parameters. This study is an initial step toward understanding the dynamics of these particles inside the geostationary orbit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)915-933
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • electron transport
  • ensemble modeling
  • inner magnetosphere
  • magnetospheric convection
  • ring current electrons
  • wave-particle interactions

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