Articles | Volume 27, issue 5
13 May 2009
 | 13 May 2009

Radial transport of radiation belt electrons due to stormtime Pc5 waves

A. Y. Ukhorskiy, M. I. Sitnov, K. Takahashi, and B. J. Anderson

Abstract. During geomagnetic storms relativistic electron fluxes in the outer radiation belt exhibit dynamic variability over multiple orders of magnitude. This requires radial transport of electrons across their drift shells and implies violation of their third adiabatic invariant. Radial transport is induced by the interaction of the electron drift motion with electric and magnetic field fluctuations in the ULF frequency range. It was previously shown that solar-wind driven ULF waves have long azimuthal wave lengths and thus can violate the third invariant of trapped electrons in the process of resonant interaction with their gradient-curvature motion. However, the amplitude of solar-wind driven ULF waves rapidly decreases with decreasing L. It is therefore not clear what mechanisms are responsible for fast transport rates observed inside the geosynchronous orbit. In this paper we investigate wether stormtime Pc5 waves can contribute to this process. Stormtime Pc5s have short azimuthal wave lengths and therefore cannot exhibit resonance with the the electron drift motion. However we show that stormtime Pc5s can cause localized random scattering of electron drift motion that violates the third invariant. According to our results electron interaction with stormtime Pc5s can produce rapid radial transport even as low as L≃4. Numerical simulations show that electron transport can exhibit large deviations from radial diffusion. The diffusion approximation is not valid for individual storms but only applies to the statistically averaged response of the outer belt to stormtime Pc5 waves.