Modeling Field Line Curvature Scattering Loss of 1–10 MeV Protons During Geomagnetic Storms

The proton radiation belt contains high fluxes of adiabatically trapped protons varying in energy from ∼one to hundreds of megaelectron volts (MeV). At large radial distances, magnetospheric field lines become stretched on the nightside of Earth and exhibit a small radius of curvature RC near the equator. This leads protons to undergo field line curvature (FLC) scattering, whereby changes to the first adiabatic invariant accumulate as field strength becomes nonuniform across a gyroorbit. The outer boundary of the proton belt at a given energy corresponds to the range of magnetic L shell over which this transition to nonadiabatic motion takes place, and is sensitive to the occurrence of geomagnetic storms. In this work, we first find expressions for nightside equatorial RC and field strength Be as functions of Dst and L* to fit the TS04 field model. We then apply the Tu et al. (2014, condition for nonadiabatic onset to solve the outer boundary L*, and refine our expression for RC to achieve agreement with Van Allen Probes observations of 1–50 MeV proton flux over the 2014–2018 era. Finally, we implement this nonadiabatic onset condition into the British Antarctic Survey proton belt model (BAS-PRO) to solve the temporal evolution of proton fluxes at L ≤ 4. Compared with observations, BAS-PRO reproduces storm losses due to FLC scattering, but there is a discrepancy in mid-2017 that suggests a ∼5 MeV proton source not accounted for. Our work sheds light on outer zone proton belt variability at 1–10 MeV and demonstrates a useful tool for real-time forecasting.


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Authors: Lozinski, Alexander R. ORCIDORCID record for Alexander R. Lozinski, Horne, Richard B. ORCIDORCID record for Richard B. Horne, Glauert, Sarah A. ORCIDORCID record for Sarah A. Glauert, Kellerman, Adam C., Bortnik, Jacob, Claudpierre, Seth G., Manweiler, Jerry W., Spence, Harlan E.

On this site: Alexander Lozinski, Richard Horne, Sarah Glauert
23 April, 2024
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics / 129
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