ANNALES GEOPHYSICAE, VOL. 24, 2025-2041, 2006

The atmospheric implications of radiation belt remediation

C. J. Rodger1, M. A. Clilverd2, Th.Ulich3, P. T. Verronen4, E. Turunen3, N. R. Thomson1

1Dept of Physics, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand,
2British Antarctic Survey (NERC), Cambridge, U.K.,
3Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory, Sodankylä, Finland,
4Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland.


High altitude nuclear explosions (HANEs) and geomagnetic storms can produce large scale injections of relativistic particles into the inner radiation belts. It is recognised that these large increases in >1 MeV trapped electron fluxes can shorten the operational lifetime of low Earth orbiting satellites, threatening a large, valuable. Therefore, studies are being undertaken to bring about practical human control of the radiation belts, termed "Radiation Belt Remediation" (RBR). In this study we consider the upper atmospheric consequences of a RBR system operating over either 1 or 10 days. The RBR-forced neutral chemistry changes, leading to NOx enhancements and O3 depletions, are significant during the timescale of the precipitation but are generally not long-lasting. The magnitudes, time-scales, and altitudes of these changes are no more significant than those observed during large solar proton events. In contrast, RBR operation will lead to unusually intense HF blackouts for about the first half of the operation time, producing large scale disruptions to radio communication and navigation systems. While the neutral atmosphere changes are not particularly important, HF disruptions could be an important area for policy makers to consider, particularly for the remediation of natural injections.

© 2006 by the European Geosciences Union. Further electronic publication not allowed.

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