Energy transport in the thermosphere during the solar storms of April 2002

Martin G. Mlynczak, F. Javier Martin-Torres, Geoff Crowley, David P. Kratz, Bernd Funke, Gang Lu, Manuel Lopez-Puertas, James M. Russell, Janet Kozyra, Chris Mertens, Ramesh Sharma, Larry Gordley, Richard Picard, Jeremy Winick, Larry Paxton

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98 Citations (Scopus)


[1]The dramatic solar storm events of April 2002 deposited a large amount of energy into the Earth's upper atmosphere, substantially altering the thermal structure, the chemical composition, the dynamics, and the radiative environment. We examine the flow of energy within the thermosphere during this storm period from the perspective of infrared radiation transport and heat conduction. Observations from the SABER instrument on the TIMED satellite are coupled with computations based on the ASPEN thermospheric general circulation model to assess the energy flow. The dominant radiative response is associated with dramatically enhanced infrared emission from nitric oxide at 5.3 μm from which a total of ∼7.7 × 1023 ergs of energy are radiated during the storm. Energy loss rates due to NO emission exceed 2200 Kelvin per day. In contrast, energy loss from carbon dioxide emission at 15 μm is only ∼2.3% that of nitric oxide. Atomic oxygen emission at 63 μm is essentially constant during the storm. Energy loss from molecular heat conduction may be as large as 3.8% of the NO emission. These results confirm the “natural thermostat” effect of nitric oxide emission as the primary mechanism by which storm energy is lost from the thermosphere below 210 km.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue numberA12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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