In January 1997 a large fleet of NASA and US military satellites provided the most complete observations to date of the changes in >2 MeV electrons during a geomagnetic storm. Observations at geosynchronous orbit revealed a somewhat unusual two-peaked enhancement in relativistic electron fluxes [ Reeves et al., 1998]. In the heart of the radiation belts at L ≈ 4, however, there was a single enhancement followed by a gradual decay. Radial profiles from the POLAR and GPS satellites revealed three distinct phases. (1) In the acceleration phase electron fluxes increased simultaneously at L ≈ 4–6. (2) During the passage of the cloud the radiation belts were shifted radially outward and then relaxed earthward. (3) For several days after the passage of the cloud the radial gradient of the fluxes flattened, increasing the fluxes at higher L-shells. These observations provide evidence that the acceleration of relativistic electrons takes place within the radiation belts and is rapid. Both magnetospheric compression and radial diffusion can cause a redistribution of electron fluxes within the magnetosphere that make the event profiles appear quite different when viewed at different L-shells.



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Geophysical Research Letters


American Geophysical Union

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Copyright 1998 by the American Geophysical Union.

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