We elaborate on the nature of the prompt core confinement improvement observed at the L–H transition in DIII-D, which is a long-standing issue unsolved for more than two decades and can impact future fusion reactor performance. Dynamic transport analysis suggests the essential role of the profile stiffness for understanding the mechanism of the prompt core confinement improvement. Beam emission spectroscopy shows that transport reduction at the core cannot be explained only by the ion scale turbulence density fluctuation suppression. Properties of nonlocal confinement improvement across the L–H transition are experimentally assessed in hydrogen (H) and deuterium (D) plasmas. Prompt core confinement improvement is found to be more rapid in the lighter hydrogen isotope.

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