Rapid fluctuations of stratospheric electric field following a solar energetic particle event



[1] During January, 2005, there were several large X-class solar flares and associated solar energetic particle (SEP) events. Coincidentally, the MINIS balloon campaign had multiple payloads aloft in the stratosphere above Antarctica measuring dc electric fields, conductivity and x-ray flux. One-to-one increases in the electrical conductivity and decreases to near zero of both the vertical and horizontal electric field components were observed in conjunction with an increase in particle flux at SEP onset. Combined with an atmospheric electric field mapping model, these data are consistent with a shorting out of the global electric circuit and point toward substantial ionospheric convection modifications. Additionally, two subsequent, rapid changes were detected in the vertical electric field component several hours after SEP onset. These changes result in similar fluctuations in the calculated vertical current density. We will describe how rigidity cut-off dynamics may be crucial in understanding these sudden jumps in the vertical electric field.