Response of the middle atmosphere to the solar proton events of August–December, 1989



Intense solar activity during the period August–December 1989 gave rise to several major energetic-particle events, which were accompanied by greatly enhanced ionization rates and NOy production in the polar regions of both hemispheres. A two-dimensional model of the chemistry and dynamics of the middle atmosphere has been used to calculate the production and subsequent fate of the NOy and its effect on ozone concentrations and temperatures. In the sunlit southern polar cap, NO increases as large as a factor of 20 are estimated near 60 km altitude, with column density enhancements of 55%. Corresponding peak ozone depletions of about 20% are calculated near 40km in late October 1989, with predicted temperature decreases of about 3–3.5K. Effects in the northern polar regions are considerably smaller, due to the lack of sunlight during the peak phase of the events.