M. E. Andersson, et al.
WACCM-D—Improved modeling of nitric acid and active chlorine during energetic particle precipitation
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres (2015JD024173), 121(17), 10,328-10,341, 2016; doi: 10.1002/2015JD024173
NO2 NO HNO3 HCl ClO Middle atmosphere Particle precipitation Polar cap ionosphere WACCM solar proton event nitric acid ion chemistry active chlorines


Observations have shown that a number of neutral minor species are affected by energetic particle precipitation (EPP) and ion chemistry (IC) in the polar regions. However, to date the complexity of the ion chemistry below the mesopause (i.e., in the D region ionosphere) has restricted global models to simplified EEP/IC parameterizations which are unable to reproduce some important effects, e.g., the increase of mesospheric nitric acid (HNO3). Here we use WACCM-D, a variant of the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model which includes a selected set of D region ion chemistry designed to produce the observed effects of EPP/IC. We evaluate the performance of EPP/IC modeling by comparing WACCM-D results for the January 2005 solar proton event (SPE) to those from the standard WACCM and Aura/Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) and SCISAT/Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment-Fourier Transform Spectrometer (ACE-FTS) observations. The results indicate that WACCM-D improves the modeling of HNO3, HCl, ClO, OH, and NOx during the SPE. Northern Hemispheric HNO3 from WACCM-D shows an increase by 2 orders of magnitude at 40–70 km compared to WACCM, reaching 2.6 ppbv, in agreement with the observations. For HCl and ClO, the improvement is most pronounced in the Southern Hemisphere at 40–50 km where WACCM-D predicts a decrease of HCl and increase of ClO by 1.6% and 10%, respectively, similar to MLS data. Compared to WACCM, WACCM-D produces 25–50% less OH and 30–130% more NOx at 70–85 km which leads to better agreement with the observations. Although not addressed here, longer-term NOx impact of ion chemistry could be important for polar stratospheric ozone and middle atmospheric dynamics.


  author = "M. E. Andersson and P. T. Verronen and D. R. Marsh and S.-M. Päivärinta and J. M. C. Plane",
  title = "WACCM-D—Improved modeling of nitric acid and active chlorine during energetic particle precipitation",
  year = 2016,
  journal = "Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres",
  volume = 121,
  number = 17,
  pages = "10,328-10,341",
  month = "Sep",
  keywords = "NO2, NO, HNO3, HCl, ClO, Middle atmosphere, Particle precipitation, Polar cap ionosphere, WACCM, solar proton event, nitric acid, ion chemistry, active chlorines",
  doi = "10.1002/2015JD024173",
  url = "",
  note = "2015JD024173"
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