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What can the annual 10Be solar activity reconstructions tell us about historic space weather?

Barnard, L., McCracken, K. G., Owens, M. J. and Lockwood, M. (2018) What can the annual 10Be solar activity reconstructions tell us about historic space weather? Journal of Space Weather and Space Climate, 8. A23. ISSN 2115-7251

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1051/swsc/2018014

Abstract/Summary

Context: Cosmogenic isotopes provide useful estimates of past solar magnetic activity, constraining past space climate with reasonable uncertainty. Much less is known about past space weather conditions. Recent advances in the analysis of 10Be by McCracken & Beer (2015, Sol Phys 290: 305–3069) (MB15) suggest that annually resolved 10Be can be significantly affected by solar energetic particle (SEP) fluxes. This poses a problem, and presents an opportunity, as the accurate quantification of past solar magnetic activity requires the SEP effects to be determined and isolated, whilst doing so might provide a valuable record of past SEP fluxes. Aims: We compare the MB15 reconstruction of the heliospheric magnetic field (HMF), with two independent estimates of the HMF derived from sunspot records and geomagnetic variability. We aim to quantify the differences between the HMF reconstructions, and speculate on the origin of these differences. We test whether the differences between the reconstructions appear to depend on known significant space weather events. Methods: We analyse the distributions of the differences between the HMF reconstructions. We consider how the differences vary as a function of solar cycle phase, and, using a Kolmogorov-Smirnov test, we compare the distributions under the two conditions of whether or not large space weather events were known to have occurred. Results: We find that the MB15 reconstructions are generally marginally smaller in magnitude than the sunspot and geomagnetic HMF reconstructions. This bias varies as a function of solar cycle phase, and is largest in the declining phase of the solar cycle. We find that MB15's excision of the years with very large ground level enhancement (GLE) improves the agreement of the 10Be HMF estimate with the sunspot and geomagnetic reconstructions. We find no statistical evidence that GLEs, in general, affect the MB15 reconstruction, but this analysis is limited by having too few samples. We do find evidence that the MB15 reconstructions appear statistically different in years with great geomagnetic storms.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:76548
Publisher:EDP Sciences

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