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Origin of energetic electron precipitation >30 keV into the atmosphere

By Mai Mai Lam, Richard B. Horne, Nigel P. Meredith, Sarah A. Glauert, Tracy Moffat-Griffin and Janet C. Green

Abstract

Energetic electrons are deposited into the atmosphere from Earth's inner magnetosphere, resulting in the production of odd nitrogen (NOx). During polar night, NOx can be transported to low altitudes, where it can destroy ozone, affecting the atmospheric radiation balance. Since the flux of energetic electrons trapped in the magnetosphere is related to solar activity, the precipitation of these electrons into Earth's atmosphere provides a link between solar variability and changes in atmospheric chemistry which may affect Earth's climate. To determine the global distribution of the precipitating flux, we have built a statistical model binned by auroral electrojet (AE) index, magnetic local time (MLT), and L shell of E > 30 keV precipitating electrons from the Medium Energy Proton and Electron Detector (MEPED) on board the NOAA Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellites (POES) low-altitude satellites NOAA-15, NOAA-16, NOAA-17, and NOAA-18. We show that the precipitating flux increases with geomagnetic activity, suggesting that the flux is related to substorm activity. The precipitating fluxes maximize during active conditions where they are primarily seen outside of the plasmapause on the dawnside. The global distribution of the precipitating flux of E > 30 keV electrons is well-correlated with the global distribution of lower-band chorus waves as observed by the plasma wave experiment onboard the Combined Release and Radiation Effects Satellite (CRRES) satellite. In addition, the electron precipitation occurs where the pitch angle diffusion coefficient due to resonant interaction between electrons and whistler mode chorus waves is high, as calculated using the pitch angle and energy diffusion of ions and electrons (PADIE) code. Our results suggest that lower-band chorus is very important for scattering > 30 keV electrons from Earth's inner magnetosphere into the atmosphere

Topics: Atmospheric Sciences, Chemistry
Publisher: American Geophysical Union
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.1029/2009JA014619
OAI identifier: oai:nora.nerc.ac.uk:13721

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