Towards understanding edge localised mode mitigation by resonant magnetic perturbations in MAST
Type-I Edge Localised Modes (ELMs) have been mitigated in MAST through the application of n = 3, 4, and 6 resonant magnetic perturbations. For each toroidal mode number of the non-axisymmetric applied fields, the frequency of the ELMs has been increased significantly, and the peak heat flux on the divertor plates reduced commensurately. This increase in ELM frequency occurs despite a significant drop in the edge pressure gradient, which would be expected to stabilise the peeling-ballooning modes thought to be responsible for type-I ELMs. Various mechanisms which could cause a destabilisation of the peeling-ballooning modes are presented, including pedestal widening, plasma rotation braking, three dimensional corrugation of the plasma boundary, and the existence of radially extended lobe structures near to the X-point. This leads to a model aimed at resolving the apparent dichotomy of ELM control, which is to say ELM suppression occurring due to the pedestal pressure reduction below the peeling-ballooning stability boundary, whilst the reduction in pressure can also lead to ELM mitigation, which is ostensibly a destabilisation of peeling-ballooning modes. In the case of ELM mitigation, the pedestal broadening, 3d corrugation, or lobes near the X-point degrade ballooning stability so much that the pedestal recovers rapidly to cross the new stability boundary at lower pressure more frequently, whilst in the case of suppression, the plasma parameters are such that the particle transport reduces the edge pressure below the stability boundary, which is only mildly affected by negligible rotation braking, small edge corrugation or short, broad lobe structures.