Articles | Volume 27, issue 2
05 Feb 2009
 | 05 Feb 2009

The influence of ozone concentration on the lower ionosphere – modelling and measurements during the 29–30 October 2003 solar proton event

A. Osepian, S. Kirkwood, and P. Dalin

Abstract. A numerical model of D-region ion chemistry is used to study the influence of the ozone concentration in the mesosphere on ion-composition and electron density during solar proton events (SPE). We find a strong sensitivity in the lower part of the D-region, where negative ions play a major role in the ionization balance. We have chosen the strong SPE on 29–30 October 2003 when very intense proton fluxes with a hard energetic spectrum were observed. Deep penetration into the atmosphere by the proton fluxes and strong ionisation allows us to use measurements of electron density, made by the EISCAT 224 MHz radar, starting from as low as 55 km. We compare the electron density profiles with model results to determine which ozone concentration profiles are the most appropriate for mesospheric altitudes under SPE conditions. We show that, during daytime, an ozone profile corresponding to depletion by a factor of 2 compared to minimum model concentrations for quiet conditions (Rodrigo et al., 1986), is needed to give model electron density profiles consistent with observations. Simple incorporation of minor neutral constituent profiles (NO, O and O3) appropriate for SPE conditions into ion-chemistry models will allow more accurate modeling of electron and ion densities during such events, without the need to apply a complete chemical model calculating all neutral species.