New study finds that a Carrington class solar event could cause global cooling of more than 3C

A paper recently published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics finds that “a solar proton event, if it took place in the near future with an intensity similar to that ascribed to the Carrington Event of 1859”. Based on the results of the study it would be expected to have a major impact on atmospheric composition throughout the middle atmosphere, resulting in significant and persistent decrease in total ozone, resulting in a “significant [global] cooling of more than 3C”.

From the paper: Solar energetic particle events, frequently referred to solar proton events (SPEs), occur when protons and other particles emitted by the active Sun are accelerated to very high energies (for protons up to 500 MeV) either close to the

Sun’s surface during a solar flare or in interplanetary space by magnetic shock waves associated with coronal mass ejections (Reames, 1999). They typically last for a few days. The high energy protons are deflected, when they enter the Earth’s magnetic field, and upon penetrating the atmosphere can cause massive ionization including significant production of HOx and NOx (Sepp¨al¨a et al., 2004; Jackman et al., 2009).

Based on the modeling done here, and while the Carrington Event of 1859 lasted only 2 days, the proton event caused persistent changes in atmospheric ozone lasting up to several months, the authors predict such an event could cause a “cooling of up to 5 K in eastern Europe and Russia to a somewhat smaller decrease of about 3 K for the Southern Hemisphere in Argentina.” as shown in figure 9 below:

Fig. 9. Left panel: polar stereographic projection of changes in surface air temperature for the NH for November resulting from the Carrington-like Event. Right panel: same for the SH. Hatched areas show 95% statistical significance.

Influence of a Carrington-like event on the atmospheric chemistry, temperature and dynamics

M. Calisto, P. T. Verronen, E. Rozanov, and T. Peter

Abstract: 

We have modeled the atmospheric impact of a major solar energetic particle event similar in intensity to what is thought of the Carrington Event of 1–2 September 1859. Ionization rates for the August 1972 solar proton event, which had an energy spectrum comparable to the Carrington Event, were scaled up in proportion to the fluence estimated for both events. We have assumed such an event to take place in the year 2020 in order to investigate the impact on the modern, near future atmosphere. Effects on atmospheric chemistry, temperature and dynamics were investigated using the 3-D Chemistry Climate Model SOCOL v2.0. We find significant responses of NOx, HOx, ozone, temperature and zonal wind. Ozone and NOx have in common an unusually strong and long-lived response to this solar proton event.

The model suggests a 3-fold increase of NOx generated in the upper stratosphere lasting until the end of November, and an up to 10-fold increase in upper mesospheric HOx. Due to the NOx and HOx enhancements, ozone reduces by up to 60–80% in the mesosphere during the days after the event, and by up to 20–40% in the middle stratosphere lasting for several months after the event. Total ozone is reduced by up to 20 DU in the Northern Hemisphere and up to 10 DU in the Southern Hemisphere.

Free tropospheric and surface air temperatures show a significant cooling of more than 3 K and zonal winds change significantly by 3–5 m s−1 in the UTLS region. In conclusion, a solar proton event, if it took place in the near future with an intensity similar to that ascribed to of the Carrington Event of 1859, must be expected to have a major impact on atmospheric composition throughout the middle atmosphere, resulting in significant and persistent decrease in total ozone.

From the concluding remarks:

Comparing the outcome for temperature and dynamics modeled with SOCOL with results of Jackman et al. (2007), who investigated the SPE of October/November 2003 using

their 3-D TIME-GCM, we see that these results are in good qualitative agreement. They show that shortly after the event happened, the southern hemispheric polar region has a decrease in temperature throughout the entire mesosphere, similar to our results for the northern hemispheric polar region.

The difference between their results and ours is in the intensity of the changes. For the temperature a decrease of more than 3K is shown in this work while Jackman et al. (2007)

depict a decrease of up to 2 K. The fact that our results show a larger effect can be due to the intensity of the solar proton event. The Carrington-like event presented in this paper

represents an event that is more intense than the SPE of October/ November 2003.

The qualitative agreement of our results, modeled with the 3-D CCM SOCOL, for the changes in NOx, ozone, temperature and dynamics, with those obtained by Thomas et

al. (2007) and Jackman et al. (2007), corroborates the finding that solar proton events of this strength have intense atmospheric interactions in a broad altitude range starting from

80 km down to 30 km, with repercussions for surface air temperature.

The latter range from a cooling of up to 5K in eastern Europe and Russia to a somewhat smaller decrease of about 3K for the Southern Hemisphere in Argentina. Therefore

it is important to analyze the impact of energetic particles with a 3-D CCM to ensure that the dynamical and transport aspects are properly taken into account. In this paper,

the solar proton event was placed during equinox. We think that the impact could even be larger if it would happen during earlier winter because the polar vortex prevents the exchange of fresh air from the mid-latitudes with the polar region.

Final Revised Paper (PDF, 1740 KB)   Discussion Paper (ACPD)

H/t to The Hockey Schtick

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David Ball

Who would CARE what the temperature would be? I think there would be more pressing problems.
REPLY: Excellent point, we probably would lose the technological capability to measure and record the cooling – Anthony

MarkW

I don’t remember reading about a similar cooling event following the 1859 Carrington even.

@Anthony:
I still have a LIG thermometer ( mercury too!) from back in the ’70s in my chemistry kit somewhere… So after The Event, I’ll send you the readings… Got any carrier pigeons? 😉

The thing with Carrington level events being rare on a once in 500 year frequency, is that only tells us how many times we happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, the events could be much more common given how narrow a firing arc we have to be in to get hit.

@Mark W:
Sweden shows cooling in the decade following, but with some amount of jitter…
http://chiefio.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/upps_www.pdf
( I link to it in: http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/03/02/picking-cherries-in-sweden/ )
First graph here, and the drought level in Colorado further down, both show a decade scale cooling as well:
http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/drought-is-not-a-global-warming-sign/
Looks like solar particle events might well have some kind of impact.

temp

We know the study is wrong because only man can cause holes in the ozone layer.

Steve Oregon

I wonder, is it possible for alarmists to eventually swing so far the other direction that they end up exaggerating the future cooling as badly as they do with warming today?
And skeptics have to respond,, “Oh for heavens sake, just a few years ago you alarmist were telling us it was warming. That was after years earlier when you claimed it was cooling. Now you’re starting all over again?”
Some of the younger alarmists will have participated in every chapter.
Will they claim they were going with the best science every time?
So they are always right when they are always wrong ???
Eeeek!

Nerd

Solar cycle was relative quiet at that time. Are you sure it is carrington itself that caused global cooling?
I’d say we’d need another event like that to see of that happens but that would have been pointless anyway.

REPLY: Excellent point, we probably would lose the technological capability to measure and record the cooling – Anthony
Aren’t there still a few max/min thermometers left? And pencil and paper?
We may lose the computing power, and we may go to less technological record keeping, but hopefully there will still be scientists out there who will want future civilizations to see what we went through.
Imagine how much less we’d know about events if people in 1859 hadn’t written anything down. If they were able to make measurements WITHOUT computers, maybe we should be stocking up on whatever they used. Or developing shielding for what we have now.
Think of ways those data loggers and that equipment can be shielded. We’ve got an idea of the levels (the ionization rates for the August 1972 solar proton event) as a baseline, don’t we?

Gunga Din

Steve Oregon says:
September 26, 2012 at 8:19 pm
I wonder, is it possible for alarmists to eventually swing so far the other direction that they end up exaggerating the future cooling as badly as they do with warming today?
==================================================================
If they can figure out a way make it Man’s fault and so increase control via regulations and taxes, then yes. (Of course then, as now, the Sun would have to be ignored.)

smaugtheworm

Haven’t you heard the debate is over. Warmers said the sun doesn’t affect climate. Duh!

Docwat

I get that electronics made of Integrated circuits will be dead. What about discrete components such as resisters, capacitors, diodes, and transistors? My friend has 4 model T Fords restored, so we will have transportation until the gas runs out.

David Ball

henrythethird says:
September 26, 2012 at 8:21 pm
I’d be more concerned about biker bill wanting to use my skull for a soup bowl.
I was probably in the last year that the slide rule was taught/used. Ahh, the slide rule. Didn’t Buzz use one of these to calculate the few seconds of fuel left as the eagle approach the lunar surface?

”New study finds that a Carrington class solar event could cause global cooling of more than 3C”
WOW!!! It’s not enough bullshine produced by IPCC and Hansen, for the terminal bullshine addicts – now need to dig old lies from 1883. Shell we name it ”Guano addiction”
Because somebody produced a big lie 130y ago; not to go to waste; demand for crap is now bigger than ever. They should state on the label: how many calories per wheelbarrow /is it fattening… Go for it gays, from both camps; demand controls supply.
The TRUTH: the planet wasn’t getting warmer – it’s not going to get colder. ”Self-adjusting mechanism” and my formulas are fanatically ignored. the truth will win, time is against the Bulshine producers and their addicts.

David Ball

no offense biker bill, ……

RACookPE1978

E.M.Smith says:
September 26, 2012 at 8:01 pm
@Anthony:
I still have a LIG thermometer ( mercury too!) from back in the ’70s in my chemistry kit somewhere… So after The Event, I’ll send you the readings… Got any carrier pigeons? 😉

Will telegraph systems still work?
Turn the internet “on” for a dot, “off” for a “dash” ….. Heck, it’s binary.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/7x.html (bold added)

The period from 2,000,000 – 14,000 B.P. (before present) is known as the Pleistocene or Ice Age. During this period, large glacial ice sheets covered much of North America, Europe, and Asia for extended periods of time. The extent of the glacier ice during the Pleistocene was not static. The Pleistocene had periods when the glacier retreated (interglacial) because of warmer temperatures and advanced because of colder temperatures (glacial). During the coldest periods of the Ice Age, average global temperatures were probably 4 – 5 degrees Celsius colder than they are today.

4-5°C colder during the coldest periods of glaciation.
And “New study finds that a Carrington class solar event could cause global cooling of more than 3C”.
With a cooling of up to 5°C (5K) in Eastern Europe and Russia (including Siberia), places where increasing glaciation at the end of the current interglacial would be expected to start.
Offhand that seems a pretty slim safety margin. And the several months of cooling could happen around late winter and spring, when the seasonal snow and ice should be melting off at the marginal areas around the Arctic? Tipping point, perhaps?

the way I understand a carrington event only those electronic things that are turned on at the time of impact will be wiped because of power surges that is why they are trying to get the power companies to setup emergency shut down procedures for thier most sensitive equipment so that the power is out for only a few days instead of months.

RACookPE1978 says:
September 26, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Will telegraph systems still work?

Dunno, some of the gear caught fire from it.

David Ball says:
September 26, 2012 at 7:49 pm
Who would CARE what the temperature would be? I think there would be more pressing problems.
REPLY: Excellent point, we probably would lose the technological capability to measure and record the cooling – Anthony

Actually no it’s not a good point, because if it happens during winter and without power you and billions of others would wish it was 5° C warmer. Remember no power = no home heating sources outside of wood burning stoves = millions freeze to death.

MarkW says:
September 26, 2012 at 7:56 pm
I don’t remember reading about a similar cooling event following the 1859 Carrington even.
Indeed there wasn’t any. That puts the whole thing into the realm of fairy tales.
REPLY: Leif, thermometry was pretty crude then with thermometer exposure variances being so poor that the noise was often greater than the signal. – Anthony

davidmhoffer

Hold on.
A Carrington even WOULD cause a drop in temperatures of 3 degrees?
Well if that is true, by extension, the Carrington event in 1859 DID reduce temperatures by 3 degrees.
And if THAT is true, then the next question would be:
How long would it take for temps to recover? 10 years? 100 years? How much of the “warming” during the instrumental record is just a recovery from the Carrington event in 1859?
On the other hand, I question the results of this study for the simple reason that we DON’T have evidence (historical or otherwise) for such a massive amount of cooling in that time period.

David Ball

boballab says:
September 26, 2012 at 9:06 pm
Uhmmm, that is what I was talking about. No power? It would be anarchy.

David Ball

How long to repair the grid if this occurred?

Mario Lento

@Steve Oregon:
Your post was so good I had to repost part of it. Thank you!
Steve Oregon Wrote:
And skeptics have to respond, “Oh for heavens sake, just a few years ago you alarmist[s] were telling us it was warming. That was after years earlier when you claimed it was cooling. Now you’re starting all over again?”
Some of the younger alarmists will have participated in every chapter.
Will they claim they were going with the best science every time?
So they are always right when they are always wrong ???
-_-_-_-_-_-_-
Priceless!

What the study does not consider is the inability to document the impact. Such an event would have major implications on electricity transfer and the technology that feeds on it. Particularly on developing countries.
Just sayin, your Directv , and subsequent NFL Sunday Ticket would be toast too. Unacceptable, but probably inevitable…..
Does the NFL get replacement satellites with the replacement ref’s package?

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

From boballab on September 26, 2012 at 9:06 pm:

Actually no it’s not a good point, because if it happens during winter and without power you and billions of others would wish it was 5° C warmer. Remember no power = no home heating sources outside of wood burning stoves = millions freeze to death.

You’re making a good case for having an underground bunker with the ceiling no less than 12-15 feet from the surface, so you’re in the range where it stays around the low 50’s°F year round. Put on the thermal underwear, pile on the blankets, and tough out the winter. In the cities, large buildings may have basements that deep. Be prepared to defend your territory, and make sure the entryways are such that you can get in and out even with deep snow and built-up ice.
Plus underground bunkers are useful for other things. They’re cool enough for food storage, as basically they’re root cellars. And they’re handy to have in case of a zombie apocalypse.

John F. Hultquist

For a temperature chart, try this:
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcet/

Maus

PaulID: “the way I understand a carrington event only those electronic things that are turned on at the time of impact will be wiped …”
Sorta. There’s off and then there’s off. By and large, anything with a mechanical power switch close to the electronics will be fine. But a very large number of electronic devices are ‘on’ when they’re ‘off’. This is true for most kitchen electronics (microwave, etc.) as well as most entertainment devices. Even then, anything with a ‘soft off’ still has to deal with any antenna effect from an attached power cord whether the cord is plugged in or not.

These skeptics, these shoemakers go running right to the data and discover there was no cooling in 1859, ruining a perfectly good computer game. 3d even!
Did we say how long it lasted? Maybe it was just a week and everyone wrote it off as “weather”.
FWIW, Andrew Lacis got similar cooling the first year when he pulled the non-condensing greenhouse gasses out of his computer game a couple years back.
I don’t think that one was 3d.

Jeef

Carrying ton events are pure chance. You can’t tax that, apart from at the betting shop.

Henry says:
This is utter and complete rubbish:
“resulting in significant and persistent decrease in total ozone, resulting in a “significant [global] cooling of more than 3C”.”
An increase in ozone causes cooling – as we have just discovered from my applicable correlations (ozone going up from 1996, globally, both NH and SH, and maxima falling globally, from 1995)
A sudden massive decrease in ozone would cause more warming – as less high energy photons will be back radiated to space.

Given that HADsst2 shows a warming over the 1859-69 decade, perhaps more than anything, this study indicates how much ozone has been used incorrectly as a negative forcing in the models to help counteract the overestimation of the positive forcing of co2.
Good job fellas.

There wasn’t cooling around the 1859 event because very few volcanoes were active. Stratosphere volcanoes were quiet.
I don’t agree with Eschenbach and his conclusions.
We were toasty and dry up through 2007 in NA. Then poom, Chaiten in May 2008. Then the other big honkers soon followed, oceans cooled and we all got cooler and wetter. Okmok , Kasatochi, Sarychev Peak, Redoubt and Bizmianny hitting the stratosphere.
Eschenbach says volcanic activity doesn’t do anything! Lol

tallbloke says:
September 26, 2012 at 11:09 pm
Given that HADsst2 shows a warming over the 1859-69 decade, perhaps more than anything, this study indicates how much ozone has been used incorrectly as a negative forcing in the models to help counteract the overestimation of the positive forcing of co2.

Pretty much everything is used in the climate models has an incorrectly high negative forcing or an incorrectly low positive forcing.
Gotta maintain that high CO2 forcing at all costs. Otherwise the gravy train gets derailed.

mizimi

IF…a solar proton event, took place in the near future with an intensity similar to that ascribed to the Carrington Event of 1859…….well, that’s a big IF. Since ice cores suggest CE’s occur about every 500 years or so and the last one happened in 1859 I guess I shall not worry too much.

Katla did blow in 1860 gaining it a VEI-4 assignment. Other than for that activity, everything else was extremely low. If this is accurate.
http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/find_eruptions.cfm

rogerknights

Maus says:
September 26, 2012 at 10:05 pm

PaulID: “the way I understand a carrington event only those electronic things that are turned on at the time of impact will be wiped …”

Sorta. There’s off and then there’s off. By and large, anything with a mechanical power switch close to the electronics will be fine. But a very large number of electronic devices are ‘on’ when they’re ‘off’. This is true for most kitchen electronics (microwave, etc.) as well as most entertainment devices. Even then, anything with a ‘soft off’ still has to deal with any antenna effect from an attached power cord whether the cord is plugged in or not.

Since there’ll be a day’s warning, or more, warning, unplug them.
For protection angst unpredictable power surges, I recommend using hefty Uninterruptible Power Supplies. These use standard lawm mower batteries, which can be replaced at a local budget battery store.

Tony

Based on a model? Interesting, but has about as much credence as other model based predictions, all of which are wrong when compared to the present.

Adam Gallon

Another paper, that simply shows that models are wrong.
No reduction of this magnitude & duration exists in the Central England Temperature record for any period, let alone for 1859+.
Thermometers may not have been as accurate as today, but a 3C difference isn’t going to get lost in “noise”.

D Matteson

A solar proton event came at us
but there was nothing we could do
We’d spent all our money
to reduce CO2.

RACookPE1978 says:
Turn the internet “on” for a dot, “off” for a “dash” ….. Heck, it’s binary.
Head in hands …argghhhh! Don’t they teach anything now?
dot is a short term change to a state. A dash is the long change to the same state
What you are suggesting is a binary state transmission code but to know when to read the code, you also need a clock. We could of course use that big bright thing in the sky as a clock, so that the internet state could be taken at sunrise/sunset, but then it wouldn’t work worldwide because we all have different sunset/sunrise.
We could agree an internationally agreed “time to read the internet”, however as such things are highly political, we would need several “dot-dash” conferences. So, far it has taken three climate conferences since CLimategate/jokenhagen … and they still haven’t agreed a replacement for Kyoto that runs out on the 31st December.
But of course, we would need this communication system in place in order to organise the conference and then how would all those 1000s of delegates find their way their without GPS and telephones.
In other words …. we are doomed.

Stephen Wilde

I am intrigued by the apparent acceptance that the solar effects involved in a Carrington event would reduce ozone higher up and thus cool the upper atmosphere.
The result would be a cooler mesosphere and stratosphere and a rising tropopause especially towards the poles allowing a poleward shift in the climate zones and more energy into the oceans to warm rather than cool the troposphere just as I have proposed previously.
Thanks to tallbloke for pointing out that according to HADsst2 there was warming after the Carrington event.
Also thanks to HenryP who shares my view that the models have the sign of the system response wrong as regards the effect of ozone changes.
The actual observed system response may be opposite to that used within their model and Joanna Haigh recently pointed out there is some evidence that the response to solar changes above 45km is the opposite of that previously thought.
The question then is whether solar variability on a 500 year timescale such as from MWP to LIA and LIA to date is also capable of reducing upper atmosphere ozone in the way observed during the late 20th century.
We do know that the mesosphere cooled along with the stratosphere at that time and my proposition has been that the cooling response higher up outweighed any warming response lower down to produce a solar induced cooling of both stratosphere and mesosphere when the sun was more active.
The observed climate changes on the surface would all be a consequance of the resultant shifts in the climate zones, jet stream behaviour and cloudiness / albedo variations causing a change in the amount of solar energy getting into the oceans to drive the climate system.
We also know that the cooling of the stratosphere stopped in the late 90s as solar activity declined from the peak of cycle 23 and that slight warming of the stratosphere may now be in progress coinciding with low cycle 24.
Simultaneously we see more meridional jets, a cessation of tropospheric warming (possibly slight cooling), and a stall in the increase in ocean heat content.
A lot of stuff comes together if one proposes a solar effect on ozone differentially at different heights plus a reversal of the usually assumed ozone response to solar variations.

AJB
pat

more taxpayer money wasted:
27 Sept: Tampa Bay Times: AP: Gore to visit Nova’s coral reef research center
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) — Former Vice President Al Gore is slated to speak at the opening of Nova Southeastern University’s $50 million coral reef research center…
Nova received a $15 million dollar federal stimulus grant to help fund the center. University officials said the center has created 22 new academic jobs, 300 construction jobs and will employ 50 graduate students.
Researchers will also study the effects of climate change on reefs and examine their ability to recover from damage.
U.S. Congresswoman and Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz will also attend Thursday’s event.
http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/F/FL_GORE_CORAL_REEF_RESEARCH_FLOL-?SITE=FLPET&SECTION=HOME

Stephen Wilde

Looks like that Carrington Event led to 20 years of warming:
http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/info/warming/
and whilst we are about it one can see the pronounced effect of quieter solar cycle 20.

Cars electronics should still work. The steel bodies will act as a Faraday cage, works with lightning so it should work against the odd proton. Put your computer etc. in a metal box.
Interesting post.

H.R.

@Steve Oregon says:
September 26, 2012 at 8:19 pm
“Some of the younger alarmists will have participated in every chapter.
Will they claim they were going with the best science every time?
So they are always right when they are always wrong ???”

==========================================================
Yeah, it’s easy to pick the winning horse in yesterday’s race based on the best available information at the time.

I had a quick look at the CET temperatures for the time
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/CET-D.htm (pannel3)
Nothing exceptional there either in the autumn 1859 or winter 1860 temperatures, that was not present in the previous or the subsequent decade.
Daily CET following Carrington Event of September 1859 is shown here:
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/CarringtonEvent.htm
(compared to 1858 and 1860)