Energization of the Ring Current by Substorms

J.K. Sandhu, I. J. Rae, M. P. Freeman, C. Forsyth, M. Gkioulidou, G. D. Reeves, H. E. Spence, C. M. Jackman, M. M. Lam

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13 Citations (Scopus)
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The substorm process releases large amounts of energy into the magnetospheric system, although where the energy is transferred to and how it is partitioned remains an open question. In this study, we address whether the substorm process contributes a significant amount of energy to the ring current. The ring current is a highly variable region, and understanding the energization processes provides valuable insight into how substorm‐ring current coupling may contribute to the generation of storm conditions and provide a source of energy for wave driving. In order to quantify the energy input into the ring current during the substorm process, we analyze Radiation Belt Storm Probes Ion Composition Experiment and Helium Oxygen Proton Electron ion flux measurements for H+, O+, and He+. The energy content of the ring current is estimated and binned spatially for L and magnetic local time. The results are combined with an independently derived substorm event list to perform a statistical analysis of variations in the ring current energy content with substorm phase. We show that the ring current energy is significantly higher in the expansion phase compared to the growth phase, with the energy enhancement persisting into the substorm recovery phase. The characteristics of the energy enhancement suggest the injection of energized ions from the tail plasma sheet following substorm onset. The local time variations indicate a loss of energetic H+ ions in the afternoon sector, likely due to wave‐particle interactions. Overall, we find that the average energy input into the ring current is ∼9% of the previously reported energy released during substorms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8131-8148
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number10
Early online date8 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes


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