CHANGES IN THE CHEMICAL COMPOSITION OF THE ATMOSPHERE FOLLOWING INTENSE IONIZATION IMPULSES.
RAND CORP SANTA MONICA CALIF
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Free atoms of oxygen and nitrogen are introduced into the ambient atmosphere when electrons dissociatively recombine with positive ions. In the lower D-layer of the ionosphere it is found that for fractional ionization levels greater than about 10 to the minus oth power this process dominates the attachment mechanism, thereby leading to the introduction of free atoms as contaminants. The nitrogen atoms oxidize to form nitric oxide on a relatively fast time scale. At a slower rate, the oxygen atoms react to form ozone. Finally, the nitric oxide and ozone react to form nitrogen dioxide. The concentration and the rate of formation of the species is studied as a function of altitude and intensity of the initial impulse of ionization. It is found that for initial ionization levels greater than about .00001, the ultimate ozone and nitrogen dioxide concentrations are determined solely by the reaction rate coefficients and the ambient concentration of molecular oxygen and are independent of the initial electron density. Author