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Keywords:

  • solar proton event;
  • ozone;
  • carbon-14

Tree ring records indicate that in 774–775 CE, atmospheric carbon-14 levels increased substantially. Researchers suggest that a solar proton event may have been the cause. In solar proton events, large numbers of high-energy protons are emitted from the Sun, along with other particles. If these particles reach Earth's atmosphere, they ionize the atmosphere and induce nuclear reactions that produce higher levels of carbon-14; the particles also cause chemical reactions that result in depletion of ozone in the ozone layer, allowing harmful ultraviolet radiation to reach the ground.