Articles | Volume 24, issue 9
20 Sep 2006
 | 20 Sep 2006

3-D GCM modelling of thermospheric nitric oxide during the 2003 Halloween storm

A. L. Dobbin, E. M. Griffin, A. D. Aylward, and G. H. Millward

Abstract. Numerical modelling of thermospheric temperature changes associated with periods of high geomagnetic activity are often inaccurate due to unrealistic representation of nitric oxide (NO) densities and associated 5.3-μm radiative cooling. In previous modelling studies, simplistic parameterisations of NO density and variability have often been implemented in order to constrain thermospheric temperature predictions and post storm recovery timescales during and following periods of high auroral activity. In this paper we use the University College London (UCL) 3-D Coupled Thermosphere and Middle Atmosphere (CMAT) General Circulation Model to simulate the 11-day period from 23 October to 3 November 2003, during which the Earth experienced some of the largest geomagnetic activity ever recorded; the so called "Halloween storm". This model has recently been updated to include a detailed self consistent calculation of NO production and transport. Temperatures predicted by the model compare well with those observed by the UCL Fabry Perot Interferometer at Kiruna, northern Sweden, when changes in solar and auroral activity are taken into account in the calculation of NO densities. The spatial distribution of predicted temperatures at approximately 250-km altitude is also discussed. Simulated NO densities at approximately 110 km are presented. Large quantities of NO are found to be present at to the equator, one to two days after the most intense period of geomagnetic activity. This is the first 3-D GCM simulation of NO production and transport over the 2003 Halloween storm period.