Data from geostationary operational environmental satellite (GOES) series were used to identify intense solar energetic particle (SEP) events occurred during the solar activity cycle no. 23. We retrieved O3, NO, NO2, HNO3, OH, HCl and OHCl profiles coming from different satellite sensors (solar occultation and limb emission) and we looked for the mesospheric/stratospheric response to SEPs at high terrestrial latitudes. The chemistry of the minor atmospheric components is analysed to evaluate the associated odd nitrogen (NOx) and odd hydrogen (HOx) production, able to cause short (h) and medium (days) term ozone variations. We investigated the effects of SEPs on the polar atmosphere in three different seasons, i.e., January 2005, April 2002 and July 2000. The inter-hemispheric variability of the ozone, induced by the SEP series of January 2005, has been compared with the effects connected both to larger and quite similar events. We found that during SEP events: (i) solar illumination is the key factor driving SEP-induced effects on the chemistry of the polar atmosphere; (ii) even events with limited particle flux in the range 15-40 MeV are able to change the abundance of the minor constituents in the mesosphere and upper stratosphere. © 2008 COSPAR.
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