Dynamical Changes Induced by the Very Large Solar Proton Events in October-November 2003The very large solar storms in October-November 2003 caused solar proton events (SPEs) at the Earth and impacted the upper atmospheric polar cap regions. The Thermosphere Ionosphere Mesosphere Electrodynamic General Circulation Mode (TIME-GCM) was used to study the atmospheric dynamical influence of the solar protons that occurred in Oct-Nov 2003, the fourth largest period of SPEs measured in the past 40 years. The highly energetic solar protons caused ionization and changes in the electric field, which led to Joule heating of the mesosphere and lower thermosphere. This heating led to temperature increases up to 4K in the upper mesosphere. The solar proton-induced ionization, as well as dissociation processes, led to the production of odd hydrogen (HO(x)) and odd nitrogen (NO(y)). Substantial (>40%) short-lived ozone decreases followed these enhancements of HO(x) and NO(y) and led to a cooling of the mesosphere and upper stratosphere. This cooling led to temperature decreases up to 2.5K. The solar proton-caused temperature changes led to maximum meridional and zonal wind variations of +/- 2 m/s on background winds up to +/- 30 m/s. The solar proton-induced wind perturbations were computed to taper off over a period of several days past the SPEs. Solar cycle 23 was accompanied by ten very large SPEs between 1998 and 2005, along with numerous smaller events. These solar proton-driven atmospheric variations need to be carefully considered when examining other polar changes.
Jackman, Charles H. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Roble, Raymond G. (National Center for Atmospheric Research Boulder, CO, United States)