Mesospheric ozone destruction by high-energy electron precipitation associated with pulsating aurora

Energetic particle precipitation into the upper atmosphere creates excess amounts of odd nitrogen and odd hydrogen. These destroy mesospheric and upper stratospheric ozone in catalytic reaction chains, either in situ at the altitude of the energy deposition or indirectly due to transport to other altitudes and latitudes. Recent statistical analysis of satellite data on mesospheric ozone reveals that the variations during energetic electron precipitation from Earth\textquoterights radiation belts can be tens of percent. Here we report model calculations of ozone destruction due to a single event of pulsating aurora early in the morning on 17 November 2012. The presence of high-energy component in the precipitating electron flux (>200 keV) was detected as ionization down to 68 km altitude, by the VHF incoherent scatter radar of European Incoherent Scatter (EISCAT) Scientific Association (EISCAT VHF) in Troms\o, Norway. Observations by the Van Allen Probes satellite B showed the occurrence of rising tone lower band chorus waves, which cause the precipitation. We model the effect of high-energy electron precipitation on ozone concentration using a detailed coupled ion and neutral chemistry model. Due to a 30 min, recorded electron precipitation event we find 14\% odd oxygen depletion at 75 km altitude. The uncertainty of the higher-energy electron fluxes leads to different possible energy deposition estimates during the pulsating aurora event. We find depletion of odd oxygen by several tens of percent, depending on the precipitation characteristics used in modeling. The effect is notably maximized at the sunset time following the occurrence of the precipitation.
Year of Publication
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Number of Pages
Date Published