Space Science Reviews

, Volume 125, Issue 1, pp 81-93

First online:

Solar and Heliospheric Modulation of Galactic Cosmic Rays

  • B. HeberAffiliated withInstitut für Experimentelle und Angewandte Physik, Christian-Albrechts-Universität KielPhysikalisches Institut, Universität Stuttgart Email author 
  • , H. FichtnerAffiliated withTheoretische Physik IV, Ruhr-Universität Bochum
  • , K. SchererAffiliated withTheoretische Physik IV, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

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The significance of external influences on the environment of Earth and its atmosphere has become evident during recent years. Especially, on time scales of several hundred years, the cosmogenic isotope concentration during the Wolf-, Spoerer-, Maunder- and Dalton-Minimum indicates an increased cosmic ray flux. Because these grand minima of solar activity coincide with cold periods, a correlation of the Earth climate with the cosmic ray intensities is plausible. Any quantitative study of the effects of energetic particles on the atmosphere and environment of the Earth must address their transport to Earth and their interactions with the Earth’s atmosphere including their filtering by the terrestrial magnetosphere. The first problem is one of the fundamental problems in modern cosmic ray astrophysics, and corresponding studies began in the 1960s based on Parker’s cosmic ray modulation theory taking into account diffusion, convection, adiabatic deceleration, and (later) the drift of energetic particles in the global heliospheric magnetic field. It is well established that all of these processes determining the modulation of cosmic rays are depending on parameters that are varying with the solar magnetic cycle. Therefore, the galactic cosmic ray intensities close to Earth is the result of a complex modulation of the interstellar galactic spectrum within the heliosphere. The modern view of this cosmic ray modulation is summarized in our contribution.


cosmic rays solar activity modulation heliosphere particle transport in astrophysical plasmas solar terrestrial relation