Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2021-737
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2021-737

  29 Sep 2021

29 Sep 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Exceptional middle latitude electron precipitation detected by balloon observations: implications for atmospheric composition

Irina Mironova1, Miriam Sinnhuber2, Galina Bazilevskaya3, Mark Clilverd4, Bernd Funke5, Vladimir Makhmutov3,6, Eugene Rozanov1,7, Michelle L. Santee8, and Timofei Sukhodolov1,7 Irina Mironova et al.
  • 1St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia
  • 2Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 3Lebedev Physical Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
  • 4British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 5Instituto de Astrofisica de Andalucia, CSIC, Granada, Spain
  • 6Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Moscow, Russia
  • 7PMOD/WRC and IAC ETHZ, Davos, Switzerland
  • 8Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA USA

Abstract. 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 middle latitudes on 14 December 2009 with ionization rates locally comparable to strong solar proton events. This electron precipitation was likely caused by wave-particle interactions in the slot region between the inner and outer radiation belts, connected with still not well understood natural phenomena in the magnetosphere. Satellite observations of odd nitrogen and nitric acid are consistent with wide-spread electron precipitation into magnetic midlatitudes. Simulations with a 3D chemistry-climate model indicate 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.

Irina Mironova et al.

Status: open (until 10 Nov 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2021-737', Anonymous Referee #1, 03 Oct 2021 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on acp-2021-737', Anonymous Referee #2, 22 Oct 2021 reply

Irina Mironova et al.

Irina Mironova et al.

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Short summary
From the balloon measurements, we detected unprecedented extremely powerful electron precipitation over the middle latitudes. The robustness of this event is confirmed by satellite observations of electron fluxes and chemical composition, as well as by ground-based observations of the radio signal propagation. The applied chemistry-climate model shows the almost complete destruction of ozone in the mesosphere over the region where high-energy electrons were observed.
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