Warm Oxygen Enhancements in the Inner Magnetosphere and Their Relation to Geomagnetic Activity, Plasmasphere, and Ring Current.
Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 3:25 PM
Ionospheric oxygen plays an important role in the dynamics of Earth’s magnetosphere. During geomagnetic storms, oxygen transported into the tail can experience significant energization and become a major contributor to the storm-time ring current. At very low energies, a dense cold oxygen torus straddles the outer plasmasphere, frequently with O+/H+ ratios approaching unity. With the Radiation Belt Storm Probes we now also observe a third oxygen population in this region. In this paper we discuss the nature of “warm” (10’s eV to few keV, i.e., between plasmasphere and ring current ion energies) oxygen density enhancements over the course of the Van Allen Probes mission. We find that the composition of this warm thermal plasma is very dynamic throughout the inner magnetosphere. The warm oxygen density is highly responsive to changes in geomagnetic activity, varying by more than two orders of magnitude between quiet times and moderate storms. This variation at times is a greater than the variation of the corresponding proton density. The O+/H+ warm plasma density ration will frequently exceed unity, usually during the recovery phase of storms. The region of enhanced warm oxygen density reaches from the plasmasphere boundary out to at least geosynchronous orbit (the largest L-shells covered by the Van Allen Probes). It can be observed at all local times. Barring other geomagnetic activity, warm oxygen density enhancements disappear typically within 5 days of their first detection, which is consistent with drift times through the inner magnetosphere along open drift paths. We are putting these characteristics in context of the composition, location, and evolution of the plasmasphere and the ring current.