The atmospheric implications of radiation belt remediation
- 1Department of Physics, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
- 2Physical Sciences Division, British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK
- 3Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory, Sodankylä, Finland
- 4Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
Abstract. High altitude nuclear explosions (HANEs) and geomagnetic storms can produce large scale injections of relativistic particles into the inner radiation belts. It is recognised that these large increases in >1 MeV trapped electron fluxes can shorten the operational lifetime of low Earth orbiting satellites, threatening a large, valuable population. Therefore, studies are being undertaken to bring about practical human control of the radiation belts, termed "Radiation Belt Remediation" (RBR). Here we consider the upper atmospheric consequences of an RBR system operating over either 1 or 10 days. The RBR-forced neutral chemistry changes, leading to NOx enhancements and Ox depletions, are significant during the timescale of the precipitation but are generally not long-lasting. The magnitudes, time-scales, and altitudes of these changes are no more significant than those observed during large solar proton events. In contrast, RBR-operation will lead to unusually intense HF blackouts for about the first half of the operation time, producing large scale disruptions to radio communication and navigation systems. While the neutral atmosphere changes are not particularly important, HF disruptions could be an important area for policy makers to consider, particularly for the remediation of natural injections.