A model of the impact of solar proton events on the ionic and gaseous composition of the mesosphere

Research paper by Yu. E. Ozolin, I. L. Karol’, E. V. Rozanov, T. A. Egorova

Indexed on: 15 Dec '09Published on: 15 Dec '09Published in: Izvestiya Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics


A one-dimensional ionic-photochemical model of the gaseous composition of the atmosphere that describes the formation of the D layer of the ionosphere is presented. Based on this model, the vertical profiles of the concentration of electrons and ions in the D layer of the ionosphere were calculated, as were the vertical distributions of minor gaseous constituents in the atmosphere up to a height of 86 km for undisturbed conditions and after a powerful solar proton events (SPE) at the end of October 2003. The calculations showed that SPEs significantly increase NOx in the mesosphere of polar latitudes. In the lower mesosphere of polar caps, the NOx mixing ratio increases by 20–50 ppb; in the upper mesosphere it increases by 100 ppb and more. High NOx levels in zones of their formation can be retained for several weeks, producing a long-term but comparatively small ozone decrease in the lower mesosphere. The main ozone decrease is caused by a short-term HOx increase after SPEs and is also of a short-term character in the conditions of the illuminated mesosphere. After the SPE in October 2003, model calculations yield an ozone concentration decrease by 40% in the middle and upper mesosphere at 75 ° S and by 70% at the same heights at 70 ° N. The results of modeling NOx and O3 changes after the SPE in October 2003 agree well with the data of satellite measurements. The changes in minor gases of the mesosphere after the SPE obtained in the model with parameterized sources of HOx and NOx are compared with their changes obtained in the complete ionic-photochemical model. The changes in HOx, NOx, and O3 coincide rather well, whereas the changes in ClO noticeably differ, especially in the lower mesosphere. Thus, at a height of about 60 km, the parameterized photochemical model underestimated twofold the ClO formation after the SPE.