Detection of lower tropospheric responses to solar energetic particles at midlatitudes
To link to this article DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.112.225001
Solar energetic particles (SEPs) occasionally contribute additional atmospheric ionization beyond that arising from the usual galactic cosmic ray background. During an SEP event associated with a solar flare on April 11, 2013, the vertical ionization rate profile obtained using a balloon-borne detector showed enhanced ionization with a 26% increase at 20 km, over Reading, United Kingdom. Fluctuations in atmospheric electrical parameters were also detected at the surface, beneath the balloon’s trajectory. As no coincident changes in geomagnetism occurred, the electrical fluctuations are very likely to be associated with increased ionization, as observed by the balloon measurements. The lack of response of surface neutron monitors during this event indicates that energetic particles that are not detected at the surface by neutron monitors can nevertheless enter and influence the atmosphere’s weather-generating regions.