1Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI), Amsterdam, the Netherlands
2Astroparticules et Cosmologie, University Paris VII Diderot, CNRS, Paris, France
3Birkeland Centre for Space Science, Department of Physics and Technology, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
4Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA-CSIC), P.O. Box 3004, Granada, Spain
5Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE), São José dos Campos, São Paulo, Brazil
6Instituto de Física, Universidade de Brasília, Brasília (UnB), Distrito Federal, Brazil
7Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Received: 08 Jun 2016 – Discussion started: 20 Jun 2016
Abstract. The emerging field of high energy atmospheric physics (HEAP) includes terrestrial gamma-ray flashes, electron–positron beams and gamma-ray glows from thunderstorms. Similar emissions of high energy particles occur in pulsed high voltage discharges. Understanding these phenomena requires appropriate models for the interaction of electrons, positrons and photons of up to 40 MeV energy with atmospheric air. In this paper, we benchmark the performance of the Monte Carlo codes Geant4, EGS5 and FLUKA developed in other fields of physics and of the custom-made codes GRRR and MC-PEPTITA against each other within the parameter regime relevant for high energy atmospheric physics. We focus on basic tests, namely on the evolution of monoenergetic and directed beams of electrons, positrons and photons with kinetic energies between 100 keV and 40 MeV through homogeneous air in the absence of electric and magnetic fields, using a low energy cutoff of 50 keV. We discuss important differences between the results of the different codes and provide plausible explanations. We also test the computational performance of the codes. The Supplement contains all results, providing a first benchmark for present and future custom-made codes that are more flexible in including electrodynamic interactions.
Revised: 09 Sep 2016 – Accepted: 07 Oct 2016 – Published: 08 Nov 2016
Rutjes, C., Sarria, D., Skeltved, A. B., Luque, A., Diniz, G., Østgaard, N., and Ebert, U.: Evaluation of Monte Carlo tools for high energy atmospheric physics, Geosci. Model Dev., 9, 3961-3974, doi:10.5194/gmd-9-3961-2016, 2016.