Solar superstorm of AD 774 recorded subannually by Arctic tree rings
Uusitalo, J.; Arppe, L.; Hackman, T.; Helama, S.; Kovaltsov, G.; Mielikäinen, K.; Mäkinen, H.; Nöjd, P.; Palonen, V.; Usoskin, I.; Oinonen, M. (2018-08-28)
Uusitalo, J., Arppe, L., Hackman, T., Helama, S., Kovaltsov, G., Mielikäinen, K., Mäkinen, H., Nöjd, P., Palonen, V., Usoskin, I., Oinonen, M. (2018) Solar superstorm of AD 774 recorded subannually by Arctic tree rings. Nature Communications, 9, 3495. doi:10.1038/s41467-018-05883-1
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Recently, a rapid increase in radiocarbon (¹⁴C) was observed in Japanese tree rings at AD 774/775. Various explanations for the anomaly have been offered, such as a supernova, a γ-ray burst, a cometary impact, or an exceptionally large Solar Particle Event (SPE). However, evidence of the origin and exact timing of the event remains incomplete. In particular, a key issue of latitudinal dependence of the ¹⁴C intensity has not been addressed yet. Here, we show that the event was most likely caused by the Sun and occurred during the spring of AD 774. Particularly, the event intensities from various locations show a strong correlation with the latitude, demonstrating a particle-induced ¹⁴C poleward increase, in accord with the solar origin of the event. Furthermore, both annual ¹⁴C data and carbon cycle modelling, and separate earlywood and latewood ¹⁴C measurements, confine the photosynthetic carbon fixation to around the midsummer.
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