Probing Magnetic Reconnection With Flare Observations in the Lower Atmosphere Jiong Qiu1 1 Department of Physics, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, 59717, USA [email protected] Energy release in solar flares is believed to be governed by magnetic reconnection taking place in the Sun's outer atmosphere, the corona. Yet in terms of observables, the immediate and more significant response usually occurs in the lower atmosphere. Here, energy flux along newly reconnected field lines quickly heats up plasmas generating impulsive chromospheric emissions. The lower atmosphere is also the only place where reliable measurements of magnetic field are currently available. Therefore, observing flares in the lower atmosphere allows us to map reconnection events, and estimate how much and how quickly magnetic flux is reconnected. Fast reconnection responsible for flare energy release is unsteady and intermittent, as reflected in high-resolution observations. This talk will discuss properties of magnetic reconnection and energy released by this process as inferred from state-of-the-art flare observations.