Articles | Volume 25, issue 3
29 Mar 2007
 | 29 Mar 2007

Polarization properties of standing shear Alfvén waves in non-axisymmetric background magnetic fields

K. Kabin, R. Rankin, I. R. Mann, A. W. Degeling, and R. Marchand

Abstract. In this paper we present results concerning periods and polarizations of cold plasma ultra-low frequency (ULF) guided Alfvén waves in a non-axisymmetric geomagnetic field. The background geomagnetic field is approximated by a compressed dipole for which we propose a simple description in terms of Euler potentials. This study is motivated by the problem of outer-radiation belt electron acceleration by ULF waves, for which the polarization of the wave is of paramount importance. We consider an approximation appropriate to decoupled Alfvénic waves and find that the polarization of the waves can change significantly with local time. Therefore, the ULF wave's contribution to the MeV electron energization process can be localized in space.