Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-2021-15
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-2021-15

  11 Mar 2021

11 Mar 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ANGEO.

Validation of SSUSI derived ionization rates and electron densities

Stefan Bender1,2, Patrick J. Espy1,2, and Larry J. Paxton3 Stefan Bender et al.
  • 1Department of Physics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
  • 2Birkeland Centre for Space Science, Bergen, Norway
  • 3Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University, Laurel, Maryland, USA

Abstract. The coupling of the atmosphere to the space environment has become recognized as an important driver of atmospheric chemistry and dynamics. In order to quantify the effects of particle precipitation on the atmosphere, reliable global energy inputs on spatial scales commensurate with particle precipitation variations are required. To that end, we have validated the Special Sensor Ultraviolet Spectrographic Imagers (SSUSI) products for average electron energy and electron energy flux by comparing to EISCAT electron density profiles. This comparison shows that SSUSI FUV observations can be used to provide ionization rate profiles throughout the auroral region. The SSUSI on board the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) Block 5D3 satellites provide nearly hourly, high-resolution UV snapshots of auroral emissions. These UV data have been converted to average energies and energy fluxes of precipitating electrons. Here we use those SSUSI-derived energies and fluxes to drive standard parametrizations in order to obtain ionization-rate and electron-density profiles in the E-region (90–150 km). These profiles are then compared to EISCAT ground-based electron density measurements. We compare the data from two satellites, DMSP F17 and F18, to the Tromsø UHF radar profiles. We find that differentiating between the magnetic local time (MLT) morning (3–11 h) and evening (15–23 h) provides the best fit to the ground-based data. The data agree well in the MLT morning sector using a Maxwellian electron spectrum, while in the evening sector using a Gaussian spectrum and accounting for bounce-electrons achieved optimum agreement with EISCAT. Depending on the satellite and MLT period, the median of the differences varies between 0 and 20 % above 105 km (F17) and ±15 % above 100 km (F18). Because of the large density gradient below those altitudes, the relative differences get larger, albeit without a substantially increasing absolute difference, with virtually no statistically significant differences at the 1 σ level.

Stefan Bender et al.

Status: open (until 16 May 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: 'Comment on angeo-2021-15 ionosonde papers and proton precipitation', Harold Knight, 15 Mar 2021 reply
  • RC1: 'Comment on angeo-2021-15', Anonymous Referee #1, 08 Apr 2021 reply

Stefan Bender et al.

Model code and software

PyEPPAurora Stefan Bender https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4298136

Stefan Bender et al.

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Short summary
The coupling of the atmosphere to the space environment has become recognized as an important driver of atmospheric chemistry and dynamics. We have validated the Special Sensor Ultraviolet Spectrographic Imagers (SSUSI) products for average electron energy and electron energy flux by comparing to EISCAT electron density profiles. The good agreement shows that SSUSI far-UV observations can be used to provide ionization rate profiles throughout the auroral region.