University of Oulu

Sukhodolov, T. et al. Atmospheric impacts of the strongest known solar particle storm of 775 AD. Sci. Rep. 7, 45257; doi: 10.1038/srep45257 (2017)

Atmospheric impacts of the strongest known solar particle storm of 775 AD

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Author: Sukhodolov, Timofei1,2; Usoskin, Ilya3,4; Rozanov, Eugene1,2;
Organizations: 1Physikalisch-Meteorologisches Observatorium Davos World Radiation Center, Davos, Switzerland
2Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
3Space Climate Research group, University of Oulu, Finland
4Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory, University of Oulu, Finland
5Department of the Environment, Australian Antarctic Division, Kingston, Australia
6Antarctic Climate and Ecosystem Cooperative Research Centre, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia
7Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
8Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute RAS, St. Petersburg, Russia
9Institute for Space-Earth Environmental Research, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan
10Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia
11Dept. of Chemistry “Ugo Schiff”, University of Florence, Florence, Italy
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Nature Publishing Group, 2017
Publish Date: 2017-03-30


Sporadic solar energetic particle (SEP) events affect the Earth’s atmosphere and environment, in particular leading to depletion of the protective ozone layer in the Earth’s atmosphere, and pose potential technological and even life hazards. The greatest SEP storm known for the last 11 millennia (the Holocene) occurred in 774–775 AD, serving as a likely worst-case scenario being 40–50 times stronger than any directly observed one. Here we present a systematic analysis of the impact such an extreme event can have on the Earth’s atmosphere. Using state-of-the-art cosmic ray cascade and chemistry-climate models, we successfully reproduce the observed variability of cosmogenic isotope 10Be, around 775 AD, in four ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica, thereby validating the models in the assessment of this event. We add to prior conclusions that any nitrate deposition signal from SEP events remains too weak to be detected in ice cores by showing that, even for such an extreme solar storm and sub-annual data resolution, the nitrate deposition signal is indistinguishable from the seasonal cycle. We show that such a severe event is able to perturb the polar stratosphere for at least one year, leading to regional changes in the surface temperature during northern hemisphere winters.

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Series: Scientific reports
ISSN: 2045-2322
ISSN-E: 2045-2322
ISSN-L: 2045-2322
Volume: 7
Article number: 45257
DOI: 10.1038/srep45257
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 115 Astronomy and space science
Funding: This research was funded in part by the Swiss National Science Foundation under grant agreements 200020_140573, 200020_153302, CRSI122-130642 (FUPSOL) and CRSII2-147659 (FUPSOL II). The long-term funding of ice core research at the Division for Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute, University of Bern by the Swiss National Science Foundation is gratefully acknowledged. This work was partly done in the framework of ReSoLVE Centre of Excellence (Academy of Finland, project 272157). Fruitful discussions with the COST Action ES1005 TOSCA ( community are much appreciated. NEEM is directed and organized by the Centre of Ice and Climate at the Niels Bohr Institute and US NSF, Office of Polar Programs. It is supported by funding agencies and institutions in Belgium (FNRS-CFB and FWO), Canada (NRCan/GSC), China (CAS), Denmark (FIST), France (IPEV, CNRS/INSU, CEA and ANR), Germany (AWI), Iceland (RannIs), Japan (NIPR), South Korea (KOPRI), The Netherlands (NWO/ALW), Sweden (VR), Switzerland (SNF), the United Kingdom (NERC) and the USA (USNSF, Office of Polar Programs). Authors thank Stephan Nyeki and Daria Govorukha for technical help.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 272157
Detailed Information: 272157 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2017. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit