Articles | Volume 18, issue 2
Research article
29 Jan 2018
Research article |  | 29 Jan 2018

NOy production, ozone loss and changes in net radiative heating due to energetic particle precipitation in 2002–2010

Miriam Sinnhuber, Uwe Berger, Bernd Funke, Holger Nieder, Thomas Reddmann, Gabriele Stiller, Stefan Versick, Thomas von Clarmann, and Jan Maik Wissing

Abstract. We analyze the impact of energetic particle precipitation on the stratospheric nitrogen budget, ozone abundances and net radiative heating using results from three global chemistry-climate models considering solar protons and geomagnetic forcing due to auroral or radiation belt electrons. Two of the models cover the atmosphere up to the lower thermosphere, the source region of auroral NO production. Geomagnetic forcing in these models is included by prescribed ionization rates. One model reaches up to about 80 km, and geomagnetic forcing is included by applying an upper boundary condition of auroral NO mixing ratios parameterized as a function of geomagnetic activity. Despite the differences in the implementation of the particle effect, the resulting modeled NOy in the upper mesosphere agrees well between all three models, demonstrating that geomagnetic forcing is represented in a consistent way either by prescribing ionization rates or by prescribing NOy at the model top.

Compared with observations of stratospheric and mesospheric NOy from the Michelson Interferometer for Passive Atmospheric Sounding (MIPAS) instrument for the years 2002–2010, the model simulations reproduce the spatial pattern and temporal evolution well. However, after strong sudden stratospheric warmings, particle-induced NOy is underestimated by both high-top models, and after the solar proton event in October 2003, NOy is overestimated by all three models. Model results indicate that the large solar proton event in October 2003 contributed about 1–2 Gmol (109 mol) NOy per hemisphere to the stratospheric NOy budget, while downwelling of auroral NOx from the upper mesosphere and lower thermosphere contributes up to 4 Gmol NOy. Accumulation over time leads to a constant particle-induced background of about 0.5–1 Gmol per hemisphere during solar minimum, and up to 2 Gmol per hemisphere during solar maximum. Related negative anomalies of ozone are predicted by the models in nearly every polar winter, ranging from 10–50 % during solar maximum to 2–10 % during solar minimum. Ozone loss continues throughout polar summer after strong solar proton events in the Southern Hemisphere and after large sudden stratospheric warmings in the Northern Hemisphere. During mid-winter, the ozone loss causes a reduction of the infrared radiative cooling, i.e., a positive change of the net radiative heating (effective warming), in agreement with analyses of geomagnetic forcing in stratospheric temperatures which show a warming in the late winter upper stratosphere. In late winter and spring, the sign of the net radiative heating change turns to negative (effective cooling). This spring-time cooling lasts well into summer and continues until the following autumn after large solar proton events in the Southern Hemisphere, and after sudden stratospheric warmings in the Northern Hemisphere.

Short summary
Results from global models are used to analyze the impact of energetic particle precipitation on the middle atmosphere (10–80 km). Model results agree well with observations, and show strong enhancements of NOy, long-lasting ozone loss, and a net heating in the uppermost stratosphere (~35–45 km) during polar winter which changes sign in spring. Energetic particle precipitation therefore has the potential to impact atmospheric dynamics, starting from a warmer winter-time upper stratosphere.
Final-revised paper