The detection of solar proton produced 14CO P. Jöckel1, C. A. M. Brenninkmeijer1, M. G. Lawrence1, and P. Siegmund2 1Department of Air Chemistry, Max-Planck-Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany 2Atmospheric Composition Division, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), De Bilt, The Netherlands
Abstract. Major solar eruptions (coronal mass ejections) are accompanied by massive
ejections of protons. When these charged particles head for the Earth through the interplanetary magnetic field with high flux and energy,
a solar proton event (SPE) is recorded. Strong SPEs, in which energetic protons penetrate the atmosphere in
large numbers are rare, but do have chemical effects (Crutzen, 1975;
Jackman et al., 1990, 2001). They also have nucleonic effects by which they can almost instantaneously
increase the atmospheric production of radio-nuclides, including 14C (radiocarbon), but this has never been demonstrated.
We show, using satellite observations and modeling, that the 2nd most intensive set of SPEs on record, that of
August-December 1989, must have caused detectable increases in atmospheric
14CO. This is confirmed by a sequence of peaks in the Baring Head (NZ) time
series of 14CO observations (Brenninkmeijer, 1993),
probably providing a unique indication of production of 14C by solar protons,
thus demonstrating the use of SPE 14CO as an atmospheric tracer.
Citation: Jöckel, P., Brenninkmeijer, C. A. M., Lawrence, M. G., and Siegmund, P.: The detection of solar proton produced 14CO, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 3, 999-1005, doi:10.5194/acp-3-999-2003, 2003.