Energetic electrons are continually removed from the radiation belts by resonant pitch-angle scattering with ELF turbulence. A realistic simulation of the concomitant precipitation loss of such electrons to the atmosphere shows it to be a significant source for the nocturnal ionospheric D-region. During geomagnetically quiet (non-storm) periods, precipitating electrons are expected to provide the dominant nocturnal ionization source at medium invariant latitudes corresponding to field lines just inside the plasmapause. When the level of scattering turbulence is high the quiet time precipitation can dominate for an extended range of latitudes (Λ∼ 55° to 65°). Observed fluctuations in the level of scattering turbulence should produce modulations in the concentration of nocturnal middle latitude D-region electrons which may be detected using radio probing techniques.
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Spjeldvik, W.N., Thorne, R.M. Maintenance of the middle-latitude nocturnal D-layer by energetic electron precipitation. PAGEOPH 114, 497–508 (1976). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00875646
- Ionization Source
- Field Line