Cosmic-Ray Production Rate and Mean Removal Time of Beryllium-7 from the Atmosphere

Phys. Rev. 104, 1122 – Published 15 November 1956
Paul A. Benioff


The Be7 production rate is given by the product of the nucleon flux (Enucleon>~40 Mev), the Be7 production cross section, and an appropriate constant. The nucleon flux (as a function of altitude and latitude) is determined for Enucleon>~500 Mev from the fairly complete theoretical treatment available in the literature. For nucleons with energy between 40 Mev and 500 Mev, an approximate theory given in the literature is used. The sum of these two gives the nucleon flux applicable to Be7 production. The Be7 production cross section is obtained by multiplying the C(p, X)Be7 excitation function available in the literature by the N(p, X)Be7C(p, X)Be7 ratio obtained at Bev energies.

The Be7 production rate in the atmosphere as a function of latitude and altitude is then obtained. Since the main errors lie in the determination of the nucleon flux, the derived flux curves are compared to literature data on the latitude effect and star production rate. The agreement is found to be satisfactory and error limits are placed at ±50%.

The mixing and washout processes in the atmosphere are then considered. The production rate of Be7 in the stratosphere is found to be 5.0 atoms/cm2 min, and 1.3 atoms/cm2 min for the troposphere (assumed tropopause=35 000 ft). The production rates are used with the rain water removal rate to determine the stratosphere mean removal time as a function of the troposphere mean removal time. Curves of this function are presented for three different average tropopause elevations (30 500 ft, 35 000 ft, 40 000 ft). Compared to these curves, the approximate literature values of 120 days and 14 days for Be7 mean removal times from the stratosphere and troposphere respectively, seem too short. Longer times are indicated, of the order of years for the stratosphere, and three weeks or more for the troposphere. Recent experimental evidence in the literature appears to confirm this.


  • Received 25 May 1956
  • Published in the issue dated November 1956

© 1956 The American Physical Society

Authors & Affiliations

Paul A. Benioff*

  • Tracerlab, Incorporated, Western Division, Richmond, California

  • *Present address: Department of Chemistry, Radiation Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley 4, California.

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