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A. M. Dimits, Phys. Plasmas 17, 055901 (2010).
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We derive a gyrokinetic formalism which is very generally valid: the ordering allows both large inhomogeneities in plasma flow and magnetic field at long wavelength, such as typical drift-kinetic theories, as well as fluctuations at the gyro-scale. The underlying approach is to order the vorticity to be small, and to assert that the timescales in the local plasma frame are long compared to the gyrofrequency. Unlike most other derivations, we do not treat the long and short wavelength components of the fluctuating fields separately; the single-field description defines the particle motion and their interaction with the electromagnetic field at small-scale, the system-scale, and intermediate length scales in a unified fashion. As in earlier literature, the work consists of identifying a coordinate system where the gyroangle-dependent terms are small, and using a near-unity transform to systematically find a set of coordinates where the gyroangle dependence vanishes. We derive a gyrokinetic Lagrangian which is valid where the vorticity is small compared to the gyrofrequency Ω, and the magnetic field scale length is long compared to the gyroradius; we also require that time variation be slow in an appropriately chosen reference frame. This appears to be a minimum set of constraints on a gyrokinetic theory and is substantially more general than earlier approaches. It is the general-geometry electromagnetic extension of Dimits, Phys. Plasmas , 055901 (2010) (which is an electrostatic formalism with a homogeneous background magnetic field). This approach also does not require a separate treatment of fluctuating and background components of the magnetic field, unlike much of the previous literature. As a consequence, the “cross terms” due to a combination of long- and short-wavelength variation, which were ignored in the earlier work (but derived in a more restrictive ordering in Parra and Calvo, Plasma Phys. Controlled Fusion , 045001 (2011)), also appear naturally.


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