On 30 September 2012, a flux "dropout" occurred throughout Earth's outer electron radiation belt during the main phase of a strong geomagnetic storm. Using eight spacecraft from NASA's Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS) and Van Allen Probes missions and NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites constellation, we examined the full extent and timescales of the dropout based on particle energy, equatorial pitch angle, radial distance, and species. We calculated phase space densities of relativistic electrons, in adiabatic invariant coordinates, which revealed that loss processes during the dropout were > 90% effective throughout the majority of the outer belt and the plasmapause played a key role in limiting the spatial extent of the dropout. THEMIS and the Van Allen Probes observed telltale signatures of loss due to magnetopause shadowing and subsequent outward radial transport, including similar loss of energetic ring current ions. However, Van Allen Probes observations suggest that another loss process played a role for multi-MeV electrons at lower L shells (L< ∼4). Key Points Dropout events can encompass the entire outer radiation belt Dropouts can result in >90% losses and be a hard reset on the system Loss at L > ∼4 is dominated by MP shadowing and outward transport.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
American Geophysical Union Publications
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Turner, D. L., et al. (2014), On the cause and extent of outer radiation belt losses during the 30 September 2012 dropout event, J. Geophys. Res. Space Physics, 119, 1530–1540, doi:10.1002/2013JA019446
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