Roles of sudden stratospheric warming events and energetic particle precipitation in polar middle atmosphere: odd nitrogen and ozone

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Title: Roles of sudden stratospheric warming events and energetic particle precipitation in polar middle atmosphere: odd nitrogen and ozone
Author: Päivärinta, Sanna-mari
Belongs to series: Finnish Meteorological Institute Contributions 136
ISSN: 0782-6117
ISBN: 978-952-336-030-3
Abstract: Odd nitrogen (NOx = N + NO + NO2) in the polar regions is mainly produced in the upper atmosphere through ionization processes by solar extreme ultraviolet radiation, soft X-rays and high energy particles originating from the space. During periods of high geomagnetic activity, normally close to the solar maximum, energetic particle precipitation (EPP) provides an in-situ source of NOx also in the middle atmosphere. Understanding the behaviour of NOx in the middle atmosphere is of great importance due to its capability to act as a catalyst in chemical reaction cycles destroying ozone in the stratosphere. This work considers EPP in the form of solar proton events (SPEs). Atmospheric dynamics play an important role in determining the distributions of long-lived trace gases in the middle atmosphere. The main loss mechanism for NOx is photolysis at the upper stratospheric and mesospheric altitudes, leading to long photochemical lifetime of NOx during the dark polar winter. NOx in the middle atmosphere, also if produced in-situ due to SPEs, is therefore affected by atmospheric dynamics, and transported from the mesosphere-lower hermosphere (MLT) region down to the middle atmosphere. This descent phenomenon can be intensified in the aftermath of sudden stratospheric warmings (SSWs), which are dynamical phenomena able to affect a wide range of altitudes in the Northern polar region atmosphere. The enhanced downward transport of NOx can thus strengthen the NOx-ozone connection in the stratosphere. In this work we used both space born observations from several satellite instruments and a chemistry transport model in the examination of the SSW and SPE caused effects in the stratosphere and mesosphere. The scientific objectives of this work were to find out the individual and combined effects of SSWs and SPEs on the NOx and ozone balance in the Northern middle atmosphere, and assess the relative contributions of dynamics (SSWs) and in-situ production of NOx (SPEs) on ozone in the stratosphere. The results showed dramatic increases in NOx in the middle atmosphere, even by a factor of 50, following both periods of enhanced NOx descent in connection with SSWs and in-situ production of NOx due to SPEs. A clear long-term (order of months) decrease in stratospheric ozone (10-90 %), coinciding with the enhanced amounts of NOx, was evident and affected mostly by dynamics in the upper stratosphere. The results of this work emphasize the importance of in-situ production of NOx (SPEs) on the ozone balance in the upper stratosphere, but also the key role of dynamics (SSWs) in transporting the SPE effect to even lower altitudes and its capability to strengthen the effect.
Date: 2017-12
Subject: stratosphere
odd nitrogen
solar proton events

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