Although the aurora borealis looks quite unusual and spectacular, scientists have found that some types of aurora borealis cause significant damage to the Earth’s ozone layer. As a result of solar flares and coronal mass ejections from the aurora, including the so-called Single-proton auroras, which occur far from the poles, wreak havoc on Earth. Until recently, scientists had little information about the consequences caused by these phenomena.
According to the Space.com portal, a team of Japanese researchers found that one of these auroras caused a hole in the Earth’s ozone layer with a diameter of about 400 km. In this place, most of the ozone literally evaporated in 1.5 hours. no one expected such speed and scale.
Although isolated proton auroras are not as bright as classical auroras, they are still visible to the naked eye. Charged particles from solar flares often remain in the outer and inner Van Allen radiation belts, preventing them from reaching Earth and becoming a Mars-like desert. But some particles that have passed through the radiation belts interact with the atmosphere, bypassing the protection of magnetic fields. The interaction of particles with the atmosphere leads to the formation of nitrogen and hydrogen oxides, which in turn destroy the ozone layer in the mesosphere. Fortunately, the stratosphere remains largely intact.
However, even though the ozone layer in the mesosphere is recovering faster than ozone holes in the stratospheric ozone layer, which are often caused by human activities, isolated proton stars still cause changes in the Earth’s atmosphere. In addition, cataclysms occurring during space weather can disrupt the operation of satellites and energy infrastructure, and charged particles pose a danger to astronauts.
The discovery is expected to help scientists predict changes in space weather and possibly predict the extent to which these auroras may alter our planet’s atmosphere.