University of Oulu

Golubenko, K., Rozanov, E., Mironova, I., Karagodin, A., & Usoskin, I. ( 2020). Natural sources of ionization and their impact on atmospheric electricity. Geophysical Research Letters, 47, e2020GL088619.

Natural sources of ionization and their impact on atmospheric electricity

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Author: Golubenko, K.1,2; Rozanov, E.3,4; Mironova, I.2;
Organizations: 1Space Physics and Astronomy Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Department of Physics of Earth, Faculty of Physics, St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia
3PMOD/WRC and IAC ETHZ, Davos Dorf, Switzerland
4Western Department of Pushkov Institute of Terrestrial Magnetism, Ionosphere and Radio Waves Propagation, Russian Academy of Sciences, Kaliningrad, Russia
5Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 5.7 MB)
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Language: English
Published: American Geophysical Union, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-06-22


We present a study of atmospheric electricity using the chemistry‐climate model SOCOL considering ionization by solar energetic particles during an extreme solar proton event (SPE), galactic cosmic rays (GCR), and terrestrial radon (Rn‐222). We calculate the global distribution of the atmospheric conductivity and fair‐weather downward current density (Jz) using atmospheric ionization rates from all sources. We found that Jz is enhanced (by more than 3.5 pA/m²) in radon source and polar regions. Contribution of Rn‐222 is essential at middle and low latitudes/altitudes where GCR‐induced air conductivity is reduced. The model results are in good agreement with the available observations. We also studied the effects of an extreme SPE, corresponding to the 774 AD event, on the atmospheric electricity and found that it would lead to a large increase of Jz on a global scale. The magnitude of the effects depends on location and can exceed background value more than 30 times over the high latitudes (a conservative upper bound). Such an assessment has been performed for the first time.

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Series: Geophysical research letters
ISSN: 0094-8276
ISSN-E: 1944-8007
ISSN-L: 0094-8276
Volume: 47
Issue: 12
Article number: e2020GL088619
DOI: 10.1029/2020GL088619
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 115 Astronomy and space science
Funding: This work was partly supported by the Academy of Finland (Projects ESPERA no. 321882, CRIPA‐X no. 304435, HEAIM no. 314982, and no. 316223). This work was partly supported by the Russian Science Foundation, grant no. 20‐67‐46016. The discussions and short term science missions of KG and IU to PMOD/WRC supported by European COST Action CA15211 (ELECTRONET) made this work possible. The work benefited from the discussions in the framework of the International Space Science Institute (ISSI and ISSI‐BJ) teams “Space Weather Induced Direct Ionisation Effects On The Ozone Layer” and “Relativistic Electron Precipitation and its Atmospheric Effect.” IM acknowledges the support of St. Petersburg State University through the Grant COLLAB2019_2, id: 41167902 and id: 41167802. AK and IM acknowledge the support from RFBR, project number 19‐35‐90134. ER work on the ionospheric potential calculation module was supported by the Russian Science Foundation, grant no. 17‐17‐01060.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 321882
Detailed Information: 321882 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
304435 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
314982 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2020. The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.