Exceptional middle latitude electron precipitation detected by balloon observations: Implications for atmospheric composition
Energetic particle precipitation leads to ionization in the Earth's atmosphere, initiating the formation of active chemical species which destroy ozone and have the potential to impact atmospheric composition and dynamics down to the troposphere. We report on one exceptionally strong high-energy electron precipitation event detected by balloon measurements in geomagnetic midlatitudes on 14 December 2009, with ionization rates locally comparable to strong solar proton events. This electron precipitation was possibly caused by wave–particle interactions in the slot region between the inner and outer radiation belts, connected with still poorly understood natural phenomena in the magnetosphere. Satellite observations of odd nitrogen and nitric acid are consistent with widespread electron precipitation into magnetic midlatitudes. Simulations with a 3D chemistry–climate model indicate the almost complete destruction of ozone in the upper mesosphere over the region where high-energy electron precipitation occurred. Such an extraordinary type of energetic particle precipitation can have major implications for the atmosphere, and their frequency and strength should be carefully studied.
Authors: Mironova, Irina, Sinnhuber, Miriam, Bazilevskaya, Galina, Clilverd, Mark ORCID record for Mark Clilverd, Funke, Bernd, Makhmutov, Vladimir, Rozanov, Eugene, Santee, Michelle L., Sukhodolov, Timofei, Ulich, Thomas