Space Weather Nowcasting of Atmospheric Ionizing Radiation for Aviation Safety

Christopher Mertens, John Wilson, Steve Blattnig, Stan Solomon, Michael Wiltberger, Joseph Kunches, Brain Kress, John Murray
2007 45th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit   unpublished
There is a growing concern for the health and safety of commercial aircrew and passengers due to their exposure to ionizing radiation with high linear energy transfer (LET), particularly at high latitudes. The International Commission of Radiobiological Protection (ICRP), the EPA, and the FAA consider the crews of commercial aircraft as radiation workers. During solar energetic particle (SEP) events, radiation exposure can exceed annual limits, and the number of serious health effects is
more » ... h effects is expected to be quite high if precautions are not taken. There is a need for a capability to monitor the real-time, global background radiations levels, from galactic cosmic rays (GCR), at commercial airline altitudes and to provide analytical input for airline operations decisions for altering flight paths and altitudes for the mitigation and reduction of radiation exposure levels during a SEP event. The Nowcast of Atmospheric Ionizing Radiation for Aviation Safety (NAIRAS) model is new initiative to provide a global, real-time radiation dosimetry package for archiving and assessing the biologically harmful radiation exposure levels at commercial airline altitudes. The NAIRAS model brings to bear the best available suite of Sun-Earth observations and models for simulating the atmospheric ionizing radiation environment. Observations are utilized from ground (neutron monitors), from the atmosphere (the METO analysis), and from space (NASA/ACE and NOAA/GOES). Atmospheric observations provide the overhead shielding information and the groundand space-based observations provide boundary conditions on the GCR and SEP energy flux distributions for transport and dosimetry simulations. Dose rates are calculated using the parametric AIR (Atmospheric Ionizing Radiation) model and the physics-based HZETRN (High Charge and Energy Transport) code. Empirical models of the near-Earth radiation environment (GCR/SEP energy flux distributions and geomagnetic cut-off rigidity) are benchmarked against the physics-based CMIT (Coupled Magnetosphere-Ionosphere-Thermosphere) and SEP-trajectory models.
doi:10.2514/6.2007-1104 fatcat:ribdnz6y7nbbtc2qrhm3flogce