Stratospheric effects of energetic particle precipitation in 2003–2004



[1] Upper stratospheric enhancements in NOx (NO and NO2) were observed at high northern latitudes from March through at least July of 2004. Multi-satellite data analysis is used to examine the temporal evolution of the enhancements, to place them in historical context, and to investigate their origin. The enhancements were a factor of 4 higher than nominal at some locations, and are unprecedented in the northern hemisphere since at least 1985. They were accompanied by reductions in O3 of more than 60% in some cases. The analysis suggests that energetic particle precipitation led to substantial NOx production in the upper atmosphere beginning with the remarkable solar storms in late October 2003 and possibly persisting through January. Downward transport of the excess NOx, facilitated by unique meteorological conditions in 2004 that led to an unusually strong upper stratospheric vortex from late January through March, caused the enhancements.