Space Science Seminar: The challenges and problems in measuring energetic electron precipitation into the atmosphere

Dr Mark Clilverd, British Antarctic Survey

Wednesday 03 December 2014, 1000-1100
Bowland North Seminar Room 20

Significant progress has been made in the understanding of energetic particle precipitation and its effects on the middle and upper atmosphere. Model simulations now include the chemical and energetic forcing from a broad range of energetic particles, including electrons and protons. Studies have shown that significant forcing of the atmosphere can occur during periods of high geomagnetic storm activity, initially driven by processes occurring on the Sun.

Although there is now more than a solar cycle of electron precipitation measurements from satellite, the observations of electron flux and energy is incomplete, and requires considerable thought in its analysis.

In this talk we will identify the challenges and problems that need to be addressed when providing electron precipitation information for use in atmospheric models. These issues include inaccurate measurement of electron flux due to limited detector viewing capabilities, and non-uniform precipitation into the atmosphere due to the configuration of the Earth's magnetic field. These issues change in significance during the course of a geomagnetic storm, and change in significance depending on electron energy.

In this talk we discuss ways in which electron precipitation measurements can be interpreted, validated, and provided for input into atmospheric models. We describe work being undertaken to complement the satellite observations through ground-based instrumentation which uses the atmosphere itself as a detector.