Magnetospheric Physics

Transfer of energy from the solar wind leads to populations of energetic charged particles that are trapped within the Earth’s magnetosphere.  Within the magnetosphere, these particles are energized, transported, and eventually lost to the Earth’s upper atmosphere or to interplanetary space.  The Department’s research in magnetosphere physics focuses on evaluating and understanding the processes responsible for this energization, transport, and loss, using a combination of observations, theory, and modeling.  This includes studies of the physics of magnetic storms and the variety of other disturbances of the magnetosphere and its coupling to the ionosphere and the solar wind.

Affiliated Faculty


Selected Publications


Thorne, R. M., Y.Y. Shprits, N. P. Meredith, R. B. Horne, W. Li, and L. R. Lyons (2007), Refilling of the slot region between the inner and outer electron radiation belts during geomagnetic storms, J. Geophys. Res., 112, A06203, doi:10.1029/2006JA012176.

Wang, C., L. R. Lyons, T. Nagai, J. M. Weygand, and R. W. McEntire (2007), Sources, transport, and distributions of plasma sheet ions and electrons and dependences on interplanetary parameters under northward interplanetary magnetic field, J. Geophys. Res., 112, A10224, doi:10.1029/2007JA012522.

Chen, M. W., C. Wang, M. Schulz, and L. R. Lyons (2007), Solar-wind influence on MLT dependence of plasma sheet conditions and their effects on storm time ring current formation, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L14112, doi:10.1029/2007GL030189.

Li, W., Y. Y. Shprits, and R. M. Thorne (2007), Dynamical evolution of energetic electrons due to wave-particle interactions during storms, J. Geophys. Res., 112, A10220, doi:10.1029/2007JA012368.

Bortnik, J, and R. M. Thorne (2007), The dual role of ELF/VLF chorus waves in the acceleration and precipitation of radiation belt electrons, J. Atmos. Sol. Terr. Phys., 69, 378-386.

Shprits, Y. Y., R. M. Thorne, R. B. Horne, M. Cartwright, C. T. Russell, D. Baker, and S. G. Kanekal (2006), Acceleration mechanism responsible for the formation of the new radiation belt during the 2003 Halloween solar storm, Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L05104, doi:10.1029/2005GL024256.

Lyons, L. R., D. Y. Lee, R. M. Thorne, and R. B. Horne (2005), Solar wind magnetosphere coupling leading to relativistic electron energization during high-speed streams, J. Geophys. Res., 110, A11202, doi:10.1029/2005JA011254.

Shprits, Y. T., and R. M. Thorne, Time dependent radial diffusion modeling of relativistic electrons with realistic loss rates, Geophys. Res., Lett., 31, doi:10.1029/2004GL019591, 2004.

Horne, R. B., and R. M. Thorne, Relativistic electron acceleration and precipitation during resonant interactions with whistler-mode chorus, Geophys. Res., Lett., 30, (10), 1527, doi:10.1026/2003GL016973, 2003.

Lyons, L. R., C.-P. Wang, and T. Nagai, Substorm onset by plasma sheet divergence, ,J. Geophys. Res., 108 (A12), 1427, doi: 10.1029/2003JA010178, 2003

Summers, D., and R. M. Thorne, Relativistic electron pitch-angle scattering by electromagnetic ion cyclotron waves during geomagnetic storms, J. Geophys. Res., 108, (A4), 1143, doi:10.1029/2002JA009489, 2003.

Wang, C. P., L. R. Lyons, M. W. Chen, R. A. Wolf, and F. R. Toffoletto, Modeling the inner plasma sheet protons and magnetic field under enhanced convection, J. Geophys. Res., 108 (A2), 1074, doi:10.1029/2002JA009620, 2003.