Articles | Volume 30, issue 4
Regular paper
27 Apr 2012
Regular paper |  | 27 Apr 2012

Evolution of the plasma sheet electron pitch angle distribution by whistler-mode chorus waves in non-dipole magnetic fields

Q. Ma, B. Ni, X. Tao, and R. M. Thorne

Abstract. We present a detailed numerical study on the effects of a non-dipole magnetic field on the Earth's plasma sheet electron distribution and its implication for diffuse auroral precipitation. Use of the modified bounce-averaged Fokker-Planck equation developed in the companion paper by Ni et al. (2012) for 2-D non-dipole magnetic fields suggests that we can adopt a numerical scheme similar to that used for a dipole field, but should evaluate bounce-averaged diffusion coefficients and bounce period related terms in non-dipole magnetic fields. Focusing on nightside whistler-mode chorus waves at L = 6, and using various Dungey magnetic models, we calculate and compare of the bounce-averaged diffusion coefficients in each case. Using the Alternative Direction Implicit (ADI) scheme to numerically solve the 2-D Fokker-Planck diffusion equation, we demonstrate that chorus driven resonant scattering causes plasma sheet electrons to be scattered much faster into loss cone in a non-dipole field than a dipole. The electrons subject to such scattering extends to lower energies and higher equatorial pitch angles when the southward interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) increases in the Dungey magnetic model. Furthermore, we find that changes in the diffusion coefficients are the dominant factor responsible for variations in the modeled temporal evolution of plasma sheet electron distribution. Our study demonstrates that the effects of realistic ambient magnetic fields need to be incorporated into both the evaluation of resonant diffusion coefficients and the calculation of Fokker-Planck diffusion equation to understand quantitatively the evolution of plasma sheet electron distribution and the occurrence of diffuse aurora, in particular at L > 5 during geomagnetically disturbed periods when the ambient magnetic field considerably deviates from a magnetic dipole.