Three Research Projects Receive Funding

From left, Hilde Nesse Tyssøy, Karl M. Laundal and Ville Maliniemi


At the end of 2019, the Research Council of Norway distributed a record NOK 3.3 billion to 350 applicants across the country. Three of the awarded research projects are led by BCSS scientists Hilde Nesse Tyssøy, Karl M. Laundal and Ville Maliniemi. Below follows a short description of each of the three projects.


Hilde Nesse Tyssøy: Unravelling the Drivers of Energetic Electron Precipitation – Revealing the Imprint of Space on Earth (DEEP – RISE)

The sun is constantly emitting a wind of charged particles. Sometimes the wind has a particularly high speed, while at other times its density is increased. The magnetic field in the solar wind will interact with the Earth’s magnetic field, driving different electromagnetic waves which increase the energy of the electrons and protons trapped in the Earth’s magnetic field. A fraction of these particles will collide with gasses in the atmosphere, and some will reach as low as 50 km altitude.

These collisions will increase the production of NOx and HOx gasses, which in turn can reduce the ozone concentration. Ozone is important in the energy budget at these altitudes. Hence, changing the concentration of ozone at 50 km might also impact temperature and winds. The winds have links to our weather system. It is therefore crucial to know the particle energy input and its altitude distribution to determine their effects on the atmosphere.

Typically, very simple parameterizations to estimate the energetic electron precipitation and its variability are used when studying their impact on the atmosphere. This leads to large uncertainties when evaluating their impact on e.g., climate models. In this project, the goal is to understand the electron precipitation (EEP) in the context it is created. The project will apply a new technique that we have developed to determine fluxes of energetic electron precipitation in the atmosphere using the NOAA/POES and EUMETSAT/MetOp satellites. We will identify the evolution of the energy spectra, fluxes and pitch angle distribution of electrons at different energies during different solar wind conditions. The improved understanding of the context in which EEP is created will provide a means to more accurately estimate the EEP. The new EEP parameterization will be applied in a chemistry climate model to resolve the imprint of EEP on the atmosphere.


Karl M. Laundal: Ionospheric Impact Response Analysis by Regional Information Integration

The IIRARII (Ionospheric Impact Response Analysis by Regional Information Integration) project aims to determine how ionospheric conditions affect transient geospace phenomena. We will achieve this aim by developing new regional data assimilation techniques to maximize the output from dense networks of ionospheric measurements. These techniques will be used to derive maps of ionospheric electrodynamics at high time resolution, which will enable us to address the dynamics of magnetosphere-ionosphere-thermosphere coupling in a completely new way.

We will apply the regional data assimilation techniques in events characterized by rapid changes in the magnetosphere, specifically substorms and times of rapid increases in the solar wind dynamic pressure. The ionospheric response to such changes is expected to vary significantly between seasons, since sunlight changes the ionization, and therefore the coupling between plasma and the neutral atmosphere. To address this poorly- understood fundamental issue in space physics, we will answer the following questions:

  • How does the ionospheric current system develop during substorms, and how does it depend on seasons?
  • How does ionospheric convection develop during substorms, and how does it depend on seasons?
  • How does ionospheric convection and currents develop after a solar wind pressure increase, and how does it depend on seasons?


Ville Maliniemi: Effects of Energetic Electron Precipitation In a Changing Climate

This project studies how different states of the middle atmosphere respond to energetic electron precipitation (EEP). That is, will the EEP-related atmospheric response be different due to climate change or after large volcanic eruption compared to the preindustrial era. We will use two different chemistry-climate models with implemented EEP forcing, and simulate the effect with different background atmosphere. There is already indirect evidence from observations that atmospheric response to EEP has become stronger since 1970s onwards. If these effects can be verified with these simulations, it is evidence of a new feedback mechanism modulating the atmospheric solar response. This can greatly benefit both space physics and climate science communities, and enhance our knowledge of the middle atmosphere variability and its role on influencing the whole climate system.