Journal cover Journal topic
Geoscientific Model Development An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Geosci. Model Dev., 9, 3961-3974, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-9-3961-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Model evaluation paper
08 Nov 2016
Evaluation of Monte Carlo tools for high energy atmospheric physics
Casper Rutjes1, David Sarria2, Alexander Broberg Skeltved3, Alejandro Luque4, Gabriel Diniz5,6, Nikolai Østgaard3, and Ute Ebert1,7 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
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.

Citation: 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, https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-9-3961-2016, 2016.
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Short summary
High energy atmospheric physics includes terrestrial gamma-ray flashes, electron–positron beams and gamma-ray glows from thunderstorms. It requires appropriate models for the interaction of energetic particles with the atmosphere. We benchmark general purpose and custom-made codes against each other. We focus on basic tests, namely on the evolution of particles through air in the absence of electric and magnetic fields, providing a first benchmark for present and future custom-made codes.
High energy atmospheric physics includes terrestrial gamma-ray flashes, electron–positron...
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