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Electron cyclotron heating can drastically alter reversed shear Alfvén eigenmode activity in DIII-D through finite pressure effects


A recent DIII-D experiment investigating the impact of electron cyclotron heating (ECH) on neutral beam driven reversed shear Alfvén eigenmode (RSAE) activity is presented. The experiment includes variations of ECH injection location and timing, current ramp rate, beam injection geometry (on/off-axis), and neutral beam power. Essentially all variations carried out in this experiment were observed to change the impact of ECH on AE activity significantly. In some cases, RSAEs were observed to be enhanced with ECH near the off-axis minimum in magnetic safety factor (), in contrast to the original DIII-D experiments where the modes were absent when ECH was deposited near . It is found that during intervals when the geodesic acoustic mode (GAM) frequency at is elevated and the calculated RSAE minimum frequency, including contributions from thermal plasma gradients, is very near or above the nominal TAE frequency (f TAE), RSAE activity is not observed or RSAEs with a much reduced frequency sweep range are found. This condition is primarily brought about by ECH modification of the local electron temperature (T e) which can raise both the local T e at as well as its gradient. A q-evolution model that incorporates this reduction in RSAE frequency sweep range is in agreement with the observed spectra and appears to capture the relative balance of TAE or RSAE-like modes throughout the current ramp phase of over 38 DIII-D discharges. Detailed ideal MHD calculations using the NOVA code show both modification of plasma pressure and pressure gradient at play an important role in modifying the RSAE activity. Analysis of the ECH injection near the case where no frequency sweeping RSAEs are observed shows the typical RSAE is no longer an eigenmode of the system. What remains is an eigenmode with poloidal harmonic content reminiscent of the standard RSAE, but absent of the typical frequency sweeping behavior. The remaining eigenmode is also often strongly coupled to gap TAEs. Analysis with the non-perturbative gyro fluid code TAEFL confirms this change in RSAE activity and also shows a large drop in the resultant mode growth rates.

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