First look at the 20 November 2003 superstorm with TIMED/GUVI: Comparisons with a thermospheric global circulation model


The NASA TIMED/GUVI experiment obtained unprecedented far ultraviolet images of thermospheric composition and temperature during the intense geomagnetic storm on 20\textendash21 November 2003. Geographic maps of the atomic oxygen to molecular nitrogen column density ratio show severe depletions that extend to the equator near the peak of the storm. This ratio is a key indicator of how the thermospheric composition is disrupted at high latitudes and how the perturbed air moves globally as a result of dynamical forcing. For example, migrating regions of low oxygen-to-nitrogen air are invariably found to correlate with high thermospheric temperatures. As well, GUVI obtained altitudinal-latitudinal (limb) images of temperature and composition, which show how the disturbances vary at different heights. The ASPEN thermospheric global circulation model was used to test our understanding of these remarkable images. The resulting simulations of thermospheric response show good agreement with GUVI data prior to the peak of the storm on 20 November. During the peak and recovery phases, serious discrepancies between data and model are seen. Although this initial attempt to model the storm is encouraging, much more detailed analysis is required, especially of the high-latitude inputs. The GUVI images demonstrate that far ultraviolet imaging is becoming a crucial component of space weather research and development.

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Journal of Geophysical Research
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