Particle‐in‐Cell Experiments Examine Electron Diffusion by Whistler‐Mode Waves: 2. Quasi‐Linear and Nonlinear Dynamics

Oliver Allanson*, Clare Watt, Heather Ratcliffe, Hayley Allison, Nigel Meredith, Sarah Bentley, John Ross, Sarah Glauert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Test particle codes indicate that electron dynamics due to interactions with low amplitude incoherent whistler mode‐waves can be adequately described by quasi‐linear theory. However there is significant evidence indicating that higher amplitude waves cause electron dynamics not adequately described using quasi‐linear theory. Using the method that was introduced in Allanson et al. (2019,, we track the dynamical response of electrons due to interactions with incoherent whistler‐mode waves, across all energy and pitch angle space. We conduct five experiments each with different values of the electromagnetic wave amplitude. We find that the electron dynamics agree well with the quasi‐linear theory diffusion coefficients for low amplitude incoherent waves with (B w,rms/B 0)2≈3.7·10−10, over a time scale T of the order of 1,000 gyroperiods. However, the resonant interactions with higher amplitude waves cause significant nondiffusive dynamics as well as diffusive dynamics. When electron dynamics are extracted and analyzed over time scales shorter than T , we are able to isolate both the diffusive and nondiffusive (advective) dynamics. Interestingly, when considered over these appropriately shorter time scales (of the order of hundreds or tens of gyroperiods), the diffusive component of the dynamics agrees well with the predictions of quasi‐linear theory, even for wave amplitudes up to (B w,rms/B 0)2≈5.8·10−6. Quasi‐linear theory is based on fundamentally diffusive dynamics, but the evidence presented herein also indicates the existence of a distinct advective component. Therefore, the proper description of electron dynamics in response to wave‐particle interactions with higher amplitude whistler‐mode waves may require Fokker‐Planck equations that incorporate diffusive and advective terms.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020JA027949
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue number7
Early online date7 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes


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