Impact of different energies of precipitating particles on NOx generation in the middle and upper atmosphere during geomagnetic storms

E. Turunen1, P. T. Verronen2, A. Seppälä2, C. J. Rodger3, M. A. Clilverd4, J. Tamminen2, C.-F. Enell1, Th. Ulich1

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


Energetic particle precipitation couples the solar wind to the Earth's atmosphere and indirectly to Earth's climate. Ionisation and dissociation increases, due to particle precipitation, create odd nitrogen (NOx) and odd hydrogen (HOX) in the upper atmosphere, which can affect ozone chemistry. The long-lived NOx can be transported downwards into the stratosphere, particularly during the polar winter. Thus, the impact of NOx is determined by both the initial ionisation production, which is a function of the particle flux and energy spectrum, as well as transport rates. In this paper, we use the Sodankylä Ion and Neurtal Chemistry (SIC) model to simulate the production of NOx from examples of the most representative particle flux and energy spectra available today of solar proton events (SPE), auroral energy electrons, and relativistic electron precipitation (REP). Large SPEs are found to produce higher initial NOx concentrations than long-lived REP events, which themselves produce higher initial NOx levels than auroral electron precipitation. Only REP microburst events were found to be insignificant in terms of generating NOx. We show that the Global Ozone Monitoring by Occultation of Stars (GOMOS) observations from the Arctic winter 2003-2004 are consistent with NOx generation by a combination of SPE, auroral altitude precipitation, and long-lived REP events.

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