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CERN - Saying Nothing About Cosmic Ray Effects on Climate

Posted on 13 September 2011 by dana1981

CERN scientist Jasper Kirkby, about his recent cosmic ray experiment:

"At the moment, it actually says nothing about a possible cosmic-ray effect on clouds and climate, but it's a very important first step"

At CERN, Europe's high-energy physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, scientists created an experiment to test how clouds are formed.  The experiment ties in with a climate "skeptic" hypothesis that cosmic rays (charged particles from space) are causing global warming.  As the hypothesis goes:

Solar magnetic field gets stronger => More cosmic rays are blocked from reaching Earth => Clouds, which are hypothetically seeded by cosmic rays, are less likely to form => Fewer clouds means more sunlight reaches Earth's surface => More sunlight means warmer temperatures => global warming!

Many climate "skeptic" bloggers and commenters have claimed that the CERN experiment has proven that cosmic rays are causing global warming, and that the experiment is "the final nail in the man-made global warming coffin" (i.e. here and here and here and here).  It's always the final nail in the coffin, isn't it?

final nail

In reality, the CERN experiment only tests the bolded step in this list of requirements for cosmic rays to be causing global warming:

  1. Solar magnetic field must be getting stronger
  2. The number of cosmic rays reaching Earth must be dropping
  3. Cosmic rays must successfully seed clouds, which requires:
    1. Cosmic rays must trigger aerosol (liquid droplet) formation
    2. These newly-formed aerosols must grow sufficiently through condensation to form cloud-condensation nuclei (CCN)
    3. The CCN must lead to increased cloud formation
  4. Cloud cover on Earth must be declining

In short, the CERN experiment only tested one-third of one out of four requirements to blame global warming on cosmic rays. Whoops, not quite a nail in the coffin!

hammer thumb

Additionally scientists have measured solar activity and the number of cosmic rays reaching Earth, and neither meets the first two requirements listed above.  Both solar magentic field strength and the number of cosmic rays reaching Earth have been flat over the past 50+ years (Figure 1).

solar magnetic flux

Figure 1: Solar Magnetic Field Strength from 1967 to 2009 (Vieira and Solanki 2010)

A number of other recent studies have also found that cosmic rays have minimal influence on cloud formation, and thus minimal influence on global warming.

As Dr. Kirkby said in the quote above, it is an important first step, just like buying eggs is an important first step in baking a soufflé.  But just having some eggs doesn't mean I can bake a successful soufflé.  There are a whole lot of other requirements necessary for me to bake a soufflé, and believe me, I don't meet them!

As is always the case, this climate "skeptic" declaration about "the final nail in the coffin" is no such thing.  Not even remotely close.  Every time they declare the man-made global warming theory dead, it comes back to life.


Note: Graphics provided by SkS user jg.  This is the Basic rebuttal to CERN CLOUD experiment proved cosmic rays are causing global warming.  Thingsbreak's CERN post has been adapted into the Intermediate version.  The rebuttal can also be found at te short URL

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Comments 51 to 100 out of 145:

  1. 47, jpat,
    I am just trying to separate out what we know from observation vs what we think we know from simulation.
    Then start reading. This site is full of information. Start anywhere. Search for anything. Read. Learn.

    The WUWT [-snip-] mantra that "the models" are the end all and be all, and the weapons of evil and falsehood, is quite simply as I described it... [-snip-]

    Read and learn, and drop the lame, uninformed comments like "one of the knobs the modelers twirl" (wrong) and "what we think we know from simulation" (gross exaggeration and misdirection).
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  2. jpat (@ 47)

    re: "...although I note your assumption that the solar cycle and GCR are exact equivalents, the validity of which I am unsure."

    Of course I didn't say they are "exact equivalents", but that the solar irradiance and GCR flux have essentially the same (antiphase) relationship with respect to the solar cycle. You can see this here, for example.

    and I don't understand this: " seem to have an ability to distinguish cause from effect that my 35 years have not afforded me."

    Which cause/effect relationship are you thinking of specifically? Are you suggesting that the very marked warming of the last 40 years is the cause of the massive enhancement of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations?That makes zero sense. Or that changes in tropospheric temperature are the cause of the solar cycle? (only joking!) It would help if you could clarify.

    "Really? My understanding is that there is great uncertainty about the feedback mechanism by which CO2 exerts its effect on global temperatures, both in process and magnitude."

    Yes there is uncertainty about the magnitude of the equilibrium response to greenhouse gas forcing. A large body of evidence supports an equilibrium response near 3 oC at equilibrium per doubling of [CO2], but this might be as low as 2 oC and as high as 4.5 oC taking an estimate of 95% certainty into account (the high-climate-sensivity side of the earth respone to greenhouse forcing isn't well constrained). Even simple consideration of 20th century warming indicates that 2 oC per doubling is likely to be an absolute lower limit since we've already had the amount of warming equivalent to a climate sensitivity of 2oC without factoring in the warming still to be accrued due to already emitted grenhouse gases, and the large negative aerosol forcing that counters the effect of enhanced greenhouse forcing. But it's correct to say that the warming we've seen is consistent with expectations, without proving that any specified values of climate sensitivity and response time constants are correct.

    as for: "Really? The authors of the paper you referenced say
    "Contrary to recent assessments based on theoretical..."

    That's good, you've read the paper and you highlight an important point. The examples I gave about concordence of greenhouse-responsive attributes (stratsophereic/tropopause/diurnal temp range effects etc) aren't from models as such but arise from broadly straighforward principles that underlie our understanding of the greenhouse effect.

    Looking specifically at the Lean/Rind discussion that you highlight indicates that of course the Global Circulation Models (GCM's) are not completely correct. We wouldn't expect them to be, and in fact should be a little suspicious if they purported to be so! So global scale warming is occurring broadly as our basic understanding (and models) predict as described by Lean/Rind (and many other analyses). However detailed descriptions of the latitude-specific responses and so on seem not to be fully captured in models. That highlights the utility of models, since they increase confidence that we've got the broad (higher-level) aspects of the climate system about right, and also show us the (sub-levels) where efforts at imporved understanding might be focussed.
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  3. Chris,

    There is a large body of evidence regarding climate sensitivity. Unfortunately, the more evidence accumulated, the greater the range has become. This is likely due to changes in recent models that were not incorporated into earlier versions, while averaging over the entire dataset.

    While the observed warming during the 20th century may have resulted in a calculated climate sensitivity close to 2, using data from 1880 - present, yields a climate sensitivity of ~1.75 per doubling of CO2. This assumes that the observed temperature increase was solely due to the increased atmospheric CO2 concentration. Incorporating any other direct forcings such as solar, aerosols, or volcanic activity, and indirect forcings such as ENSO events, clouds, urbanization, etc. would not only change that value, but add additional uncertainty.

    I know some people do not like to talk about the uncertainty because it raises doubts among the general populace, and others like to play up the uncertatinty for the same reason. However, refusing to admit this only fools ourselves. IMO, the 2-4.5 range is rather optimistic as it assumes low forcings for many of the attributes mentioned in this thread, and low tropical convectional heat transfer.

    This may just be my bias (or age) showing, but I have always maintained that direct observations and measurements are more reliable than modelling.
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  4. Jonathon, you're confusing transient climate sensitivity with equilibrium climate sensitivity, see here for more info.

    There's a lot of confidence in the 2C-4.5C equilibrium sensitivity thanks to palaeoclimatic observations as well as models, see this post as well as reading Knutti and Hegerl 2008. Since palaeoclimatic and geological observations already include all possible negative feedbacks, the sensitivity range is by no means 'optimistic'. Observations and measurements abound in this branch of science - are you choosing to ignore the ones you don't like?
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  5. Sky,

    No confusion. I was replying to Chris' post about 20th century observations. The KH08 paper needs to be updated.

    I fully understand what the models are saying. Reconciling the models with the observations has been a headache for some. Of course, the observations include all the feedbacks. Our job is to accurately determine what there are and how they work. You seem to think that we know all this already. I assure you that we do not, and are not that close.

    What is your implication about ignoring observations and measurements? You are beginning to sound more like a politician than a scientist.
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  6. Jonathan (@53)

    Thta's not true (that the more evidence accumulated the wider the range). You really need to give some evidence in support of that assertion.

    As skywatcher has pointed out the review by Knutti and Hegerl provides a comprehensive update of data on climate sensitivity and its likely range. Since that time (up to Sept 2011) Knutti and Hegerl have been cited 45 times in other publications (see Web of Science citation database) and not one of these subsequent papers gives any significant evidence for values outside of the range we're discussing. The only papers that do give values that lie outside the range are papers on long term Earth System Sensitivity (as opposed to the Charney sensitivity of interest to us on multidecadal and centennial timescales) which indicate that in the long term Earth system sensitivity may be somewhat larger than the top end of the Charney sensitivity range of 4.5 oC [see e.g. Lunt et al (2010) Nature Geosci. 3, 60-64; Jeffrey and Royer (2011) Am. J. Sci. 311, 1-26]

    So what subsequent new data are you talking about specifically? "KH08 needs to be updated" with what?

    You're misunderstanding the estimates of climate sensitivity from the 20th century record. These don't indicated that the climate sensitivity is "close to 2". The analysis of 20th century warming indicates that it's very likely that the climate sensitivity is greater than 2 oC (this arises as I said because we've already had all the warming expected from a 2 oC sensitivity, without considering the "warming in the pipeline" nor the contribution from atmospheric aerosols which has countered a significant part of the warming from enhanced greenhouse gases. I've no idea where your 1.75 oC degree value (from 1988) comes from (I think it's wrong and we could do the calculation), but I expect it also defines a likely lower bound.
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  7. ...whoops; not sure why I said (second last line of just posted) "(from 1988)" when I meant "(from 1880") :-)
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  8. #55 Jonathon. My implication was that you're not taking in the data involved in Knutti and Hegerl, crucially that many sensitivity assessments are the producit of observations, not of climate models. The modelled sensitivities essentially agree well with those observations. That's a scientific assessment, and you've provided no support for your speculations in #53. If you think KH08 needs updating, clearly you think there's newer and better data out there than summarised in KH08. What data?
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  9. Sky and Chris,

    Even Knutti and Hegerl show that the most recent data (instrument record and past millenia) yield the lowest climate sensitivity values.

    The 1.75 comes from HadCRU data from 1880-2011. The 10-year moving average of the temperature anomaly increased from -0.31 to +0.46. During that period, atmospheric CO2 levels increased from 285 ppm to 382. You may do the calculations yourself.

    Here is a more recent paper detailing convection effects.
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  10. Jonathan those values correspond to lower bounds (given the evidence of contributions from natural factors, specially solar); see below:

    And there is a certain cherry-picking in your start date of 1880 in Hadcrut which does a rather large loop upwards centred on 1880! If we use the NASA Giss data we have a total warming (1880-2010) near 0.9 oC (Hadcrut3v gives around 0.75 oC).

    anyway, we could do a simple calculation of the expected warming at equilibrium from the 1880 [CO2] to current [CO2] based on various climate sensitivities, and using the relationship between equilibrium warming and climate sensitivity can be defined by a simple equation of the form:

    T(eq) = ln(Cf/Ci)*S/ln(2)

    where T(eq) is the temperature change at equilibrium; Cf and Ci are the final and initial [CO2] values, respectively, and S is the sensitivity.

    From the high resolution ice core record [*] and Mauna Loa data Ci is near 292 ppb and Cf is near 390 ppm (i.e. now).

    So for a 2 oC climate sensitivity we expect a temperature rise at equilibrium of around 0.84 (based on 1880 - 2010 [CO2] levels).

    For a 1.75 oC sensitivity we expect ~ 0.73 oC of temperature rise.

    So we seem to have had all the warming already for a climate sensitivity of 1.75 or 2.0, given the uncertainty in the temperature record (NASA Giss or Hadcrut3v). And we still have to account for the warming still to come, together with the suppression of warming due to aerosols which means that the temperature rise observed is certainly lower than expected given any particular value of climate sensitivity.

    And (very important!) interpretations from these back of the envelope calculations are only of value in conjunction with the sort of attribution study that I linked to in post #39 (Lean and Rind 2008) that gives us insight into the likely contributions of natural contributions (specially solar).

    [*] D. M. Etheridge et al (1996) "Natural and anthropogenic changes in atmospheric CO2 over the last 1000 years from air in Antarctic ice and firn J. Geophys Res. 101, 4115 -4128.
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  11. Jonathan @ 59:

    That paper you linked to (thanks) doesn't say anything very much about Charney climate sensitivity. It describes the sensitivity of the climate to ocean heat transport in specified GCM-ocean slab models. That's very nice, but skywatcher and I were requesting the post-Knutti/Hegerl papers that presented evidence for values of the climate sensitivity outside of the likely range described in Hegerl-Knutti..
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  12. Jonathon - You have clearly done your calculations with the assumption that CO2 is the only factor, and that all temperature change is driven by the CO2 changes. I would recommend that you read the thread on CO2 is not the only driver of climate. CO2 is not the only factor, and in fact the associated aerosols in our emissions counter a fair bit of the CO2 forcing.

    Of course, aerosols have a pretty short life-span, and one of the side effects of the mid-70's Clean Air Act and related legislation (reducing toxic aerosols, acid rain, etc.) was to increase the rate of global temperature change.

    I am puzzled by your assertions that K&H 2008 support low climate sensitivity values, as most of the paper discusses the very hard lower limits on that sensitivity. A more accurate statement about the data provided in their graph in Figure 3A (showing various sensitivity estimates) is that the instrumental record and last millennea results are somewhat less certain than other estimates, as both upper and lower bounds are less bounded.
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  13. Discussions of climate sensitivity belong with the 'climate sensitivity is low' myth. Claims that the Earth should have warmed more based on IPCC sensitivity should go in the 'Earth hasn't warmed as much as expected' myth.
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  14. I'm very disappointed that this blog seems to ignore my posts. I would be happy to see somebody comment on this 2002 paper by Landscheidt:
    He seems to have made some amazing predictions based on the cosmic ray/cloud model which are coming true today. I am almost ready to join the deniers based on his work. This blog will not accomplish its purpose if you simply delete inconvenient questions. Please set me straight.
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  15. tblakeslee - firstly it doesn't appear that the "paper" you link has been published anywhere. Secondly, the quality is quite poor. For example, its Figure 4 shows the ridiculous solar cycle length vs. temperature graph from Friis-Christensen and Lassen, which conveniently stops in 1980, because after that date, the two lines diverge. See our post here on the subject. It's hard to take any "paper" seriously that would cite this long-debunked graph. The "paper" also doesn't address any of the problems in the galactic cosmic ray warming hypothesis that we've pointed out here.
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  16. tblakeslee, #64

    Skeptical Science rightly doesn't take the opinions of avowed astrologers very seriously, especially when they have repeatedly made the kind of silly claims as he did in the paper you linked to. If anybody doubts he's an actual astrologer, look at his books Cosmic cybernetics: The foundations of a modern astrology and Sun, Earth, Man: A Mesh of Cosmic Oscillations - How Planets Regulate Solar Eruptions, Geomagnetic Storms, Conditions of Life and Economic Cycles.
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  17. tblakeslee:

    The 'sharp decrease in cosmic rays' are Forbush Decreases; my comments on the Dragic paper suggest that the effect on climate of these short-term events is not robust.

    I've looked briefly at this Landscheidt site; it looks to me like Ptolemaic cycles and epicycles. Add enough loops and you can 'predict' anything. One of their main predictions is the coming Ice Age. Instead, we have the hottest decade on record. Of what value is a model that makes atmospheric/oceanic behavior predictions without any reference to the physics of either the atmosphere and/or the oceans?
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  18. tblakesele, the link you provide does not lead to a paper but what appears to be some sort of presentation. I am not sure what exactly you think are the "predictions" that are coming true.

    Landscheidt cite 2030 through the following hundred years or so, so we are not there yet. It is interesting to note that 2005 is among the top 10 warmest years recorded, with 2010, and 2011 likely to be right up there too, while the Sun is in one of the most quiet period we have observed. I further notice that the Landscheidt presentation is dated and many of these graphs would benefit from adding the data of recent years, which will show quite a different picture.

    I am puzzled as to why Landscheidt would not want to examine statistical significance on the Vostok figures. Eyeballing leads to all sorts of misconceptions, why not establish whether the correlation is real and quantify it exactly?

    Furthermore, I recommend you to read through the thread, where Muoncounter, the well-named, counted how often exactly these Forbush events happen. It boils down to a few noticeabl events per year. Whatever effect on clouds these events have would have to be colossal (as in major weather event) in order to affect the climate. Colossal effects observable in the real world are all but absent.

    I am unimpressed by the Landscheidt presentation.
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    Moderator Response: [muoncounter] Landscheidt passed away in 2004.
  19. tblakeslee,

    I am not sure whether or not you are issuing a plea or a challenge. And what you linked us to it is not a published science paper but an essay on a blog.

    Even if the CGR hypothesis were very real and shown to be a theory and that CGRs do in fact modulate the global climate, then the changes would be very small and infrequent. Additionally, the GCR theory would then just become part of a whole suite of climate drivers, it would not in any way shape or form refute the known radiative forcing properties of GHGs, and thus would not in any way refute the theory (not hypothesis) of AGW.

    Moreover, if the aforementioned happens to be true, then it does not explain the observed fingerprints that have been associated with warming on account from increased GHGs.

    So I do not understand your eagerness to join those who deny the theory of AGW based on a hypothesis or a blog essay, when we have all these data, science and facts demonstrating that CO2 is driving a significant portion of the warming that we have witnessed over the past 100 years.

    And I am not sure what predictions made by Landscheit are now allegedly coming to fruition you are referring to. One of them is ertainly not this one:

    "a long period of cool climate with its coldest phase around 2030 is to be expected."

    Besides, research has found that even if solar forcing were to decrease to a maunder-liek minimum for a long time, it would have a very minor impact on global temperatures. SkS has covered this here.

    Now none of this is to try and claim that the sun is not important for regulating the earth's climate, of course it is. The point is that solar changes cannot explain the warming of around +0.8 C observed the past 100 years or so, and even if we went into a maunder-like minimum, the current and future levels of GHG forcing from burning fossil fuels and land-use change by humans will more than offset any negative radiative forcing or cooling.
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  20. Alb: "Additionally, the GCR theory would then just become part of a whole suite of climate drivers, it would not in any way shape or form refute the known radiative forcing properties of GHGs, and thus would not in any way refute the theory (not hypothesis) of AGW."

    That can't be said enough. It could turn out that GCRs are the primary driver of climate. As improbable as that is, it would still in no way prevent GHGs from warming the atmosphere relative to an atmosphere with no GHGs. This recognition should be named the Doug Cotton Test for being taken seriously.
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  21. The paper is a bit old because Landscheidt died in 2003. He did publish in refereed journals such as Solar Physics and Climatic Change. The Journal of Coastal Research Special Issue No. 17 (1995), p 371-382 included the paper I referenced.
    The orbital momentum of the sun undergoes a forty to one increase and decrease due to the various planets orbital relationships. As Shaviv showed, GCRs can account for very large changes in climate including the very large swings from ice age to warm periods. Hardly a "minor effect." Here is another paper that shows that relationship and also discusses the accurate predictions of La Nina and El Nino periods based on planetary gravitational effects on the sun.
    Most of the distressing weather this year including the famine in Somalia, floods in Australia and the US midwest were caused by the same La Nina that Landscheidt predicted using sound science a decade ago. Thanks for the good comments but I really feel that a theory is only as good as its ability to predict and I remain very impressed with the solar/cloud connection.
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  22. tblakeslee, Shaviv showed nothing of the sort. Shaviv (and Veizer) made a tentative hypothesis that the passage of the Earth through the spiral arms of the galaxy might modulate the cosmic ray flux on 100's of million year time scale with a broad cyclic effect on Earth temperature.

    There is no evidence that this hypothesis has merit, and Shaviv's coauthor Jan Veizer, reassessed his temperature reconstruction and concluded that the temperature variation through a major part of Earth history doesn't actually correlate at with the putative CRF effect at all.

    In fact Veizer concluded that the major determinant of Earth temperature in the deep past is atmospheric [CO2]:

    R.E. Carne, J.M. Eiler, J. Veizer et al (2007) Coupling of surface temperatures and atmospheric CO2 concentrations during the Palaeozoic era; Nature 449, 198-202
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  23. tblakeslee#71: "orbital momentum of the sun undergoes a forty to one increase"

    'Orbital momentum'? Do you mean 'angular momentum'? And how does a change in momentum of any kind have anything to do with cosmic rays?

    "As Shaviv showed, GCRs can account for very large changes in climate"

    Shaviv 2005 shows this:

    the CRF/climate link therefore implies that the increased solar luminosity and reduced CRF over the previous century should have contributed a warming of 0.47 ± 0.19°K, while the rest should be mainly attributed to anthropogenic causes.

    That's if there is a CRF/climate link, a point that has not yet progressed beyond mere hints.
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  24. The orbital momentum is an an important part of the forecasting. Quting from the paper I referenced (under the diagram plotting the center of mass:
    "The large solid circle marks the sun's surface. Most of the time, the CM is to be found outside of the sun's body. Wide oscillations with distances up to 2.2 solar radii between the two centres are followed by narrow orbits which may result in close encounters of the centres as in 1951 and 1990. The contribution of the sun's orbital angular momentum to its total angular momentum is not negligible. It can reach 25 percent of the spin momentum. The orbital angular momentum varies from -0.1·1047 to 4.3· 1047 g cm2 s-1, or reversely, which is more than a forty-fold increase or decrease (Landscheidt, 1988). Thus it is conceivable that these variations are related to varying phenomena in the sun's activity, especially if it is considered that the sun's angular momentum plays an important role in the dynamo theory of the sun's magnetic activity."
    Here is a newer paper that has more details:
    The sun is like a dynamo that makes magnetic fields which block GCRs.
    Luminoscity is a minor factor. Its about magnetic fields.
    Here is a 2006 interview with Veizer where he still is defending the solar connection.
    When the oceans are warm CO2 comes out of solution but it is an effect not a cause as shown by the time delay.
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  25. tblakeslee - "When the oceans are warm CO2 comes out of solution but it is an effect not a cause as shown by the time delay."

    I strongly suggest you read the CO2 is coming from the ocean thread, as that is an incorrect statement as proven by isotopic analysis and the acidification of the oceans.

    And you have still not addressed the fact that GCR's do not correspond to the temperature changes of the last 50 years. That GCR hypothesis does not match the facts, and when that happens, it's time for a new hypothesis.
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  26. I certainly agree that today's CO2 surplus comes from fossil fuel burning but I was referring to Veizer's finding. Kuo's paper explains the pre fossil variations nicely:
    GCRs don't need to be decreasing to cause warming. Remaining at a constant low level reduces cloud cover causing a gradual rise in temperature which is cumulative. They are rising again and if the cloud theory is right we will see cold cloudy weather for decades. Time will tell which theory is right. The current la nina seems to be coming back so we may not have to wait long to find out who is right.
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  27. tblakeslee - Clouds respond to temperatures in a matter of hours or at most days. No visible trend or offset, as you claim in GCR's has been observed corresponding to recent temperature changes. Your hypothesis still does not fly.
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  28. The CGRs control cloud formation but it takes time to change the temperature of the earth and oceans. Steady low CGR levels reduce cloud formation but it takes years of cloudless days to get the oceans and earth heated up.
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  29. tblakeslee#74+: "it is conceivable that these variations are related to varying phenomena in the sun's activity"

    That sounds remarkably tentative. Presumably these variations are ongoing over a very long time. Where are the prior warming episodes that correspond to these cycles? Why has the current warming managed to coincide with a massive increase in atmospheric co2?

    "GCRs don't need to be decreasing to cause warming."

    That's the Svensmark consensus. Are you skeptical?

    "Remaining at a constant low level reduces cloud cover causing a gradual rise in temperature which is cumulative."

    I have no idea what that means or why it would work that way. Unfortunately for this hypothesis, there is still no direct proof that GCRs have anything to do with cloud cover.
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  30. Landscheidt was vague because he is not a physicist and was mainly observing interactions driven by planetary movement that had a profound effect on the sun through gravity. The physicists are far from understanding the sun. They have clearly ignored the electrical plasma and magnetic effects which are important here. Here is a link to a minority view which I feel is more on track with the true electric/magnetic nature of the sun:
    Your distrust of Svensmark is probably based on the attack on his work by Lockwood in 2007. This attack was based on many errors which are covered well in this rebuttal:
    Lockwood tried incorrectly to smooth the 11-year solar cycle and thus destroyed most of the data. In reality, the la nina and el nino cycles result from solar cycles and profoundly affect temperatures. They must not be averaged out.
    Cloud formation over oceans is where the cosmic rays have the strongest effect because over land there are plenty of dust particles to aid in cloud formation. Most of the world is ocean. Cosmic ray assisted clouds over the ocean modulate the amount of solar heating of the ocean but with a large flywheel effect.
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  31. 80, tblakeslee,
    Cosmic ray assisted clouds over the ocean modulate the amount of solar heating of the ocean but with a large flywheel effect.
    I find it odd that you can so definitively make such a declaration with no evidence whatsoever, and you in another breath have said:
    The physicists are far from understanding the sun.
    Citations please. Support your assertions with hard evidence.
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  32. tblakeslee#80: "clearly ignored the electrical plasma and magnetic effects "

    Really? So the satellites (ACE, SOHO, Orion and so on) continuously monitoring solar electrical and magnetic fields are ignored? The impact of solar mag variations and storms on communications, military hardware and spaceflight isn't important enough to be studied in detail? Here is a good, if somewhat dated review of what we've 'completely ignored'.

    "distrust of Svensmark is probably based on the attack on his work by Lockwood"

    No, my skepticism of Svensmark is based on the fact that no physical mechanism is proven to support his hypothesis and there is considerable evidence to the contrary. I am skeptical because this question is not settled; many self-proclaimed 'skeptics' turn a blind eye to that situation when it challenges their own beliefs. That phenomenon has been called 'one-sided skepticism.'

    "Cloud formation over oceans is where the cosmic rays have the strongest effect because over land there are plenty of dust particles to aid in cloud formation. "

    You seem to be unaware that dust moves from over land to over oceans quite freely and aerosols with impunity. Google 'Asian brown cloud' or have a look at this image (from earthobservatory) taken off the coast of Africa.

    As far as cosmic ray induced ionization leading to cloud formation, the effect is not substantiated any better or worse over ocean or land. Cosmic rays don't seem to care where they land.
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  33. Tblakeslee you're making extraordinary claims. These require extraordinary evidence. You're also dismissing the work, dedication and accumulated knowledge of thousands of experts. You're saying that someone who was not a physicist understood the Sun better than solar physicists. But you have no real evidence of all this and no peer-reviewed science to support it.

    You can not just say stuff is true because you feel like it should be. The name for that is wishful thinking.

    There is no credible scientific evidence at this time that cosmic rays modulate cloud cover. There is not even a physical mechanism for ionized particles to grow to the size at which they can act as CCN. If you know of one, post a link.

    The correlation found by Svensmark between Forbush events and cloud cover changes is spurious at best. It's not only Lockwood but other teams that have looked at that supposed correlation and found it all but lacking. As Muoncounter pointed, Forbush events of any notable magnitude happen a few times a year. As I said earlier, the resulting cloud events must be massive in order to modulate climate. You eluded that question before, I'm asking again: Where is the evidence of that happening? Massive events are noticeable. A link would be appreciated.

    Sicentists don't understand the magnetic nature of the Sun eh? Right, that's why they thought it would be good to have the MDI imager on SOHO. I'm sorry but your demeaning remarks on solar scientists while you show limited knowledge and understanding yourself is rather damaging to your credibility. You should first prove (for real, in an objective way) that you understand things better before equating them to idiots (which is in essence what you did).

    The 11 years cycle, wich is the only true cyclic variation identified so far in the Sun is known exactly as a magnetic phenomenon by the way.

    ENSO does not show any true cyclical behavior. It is a quasiperiodic oscillation. What scientific work (not blog posts) can you refer to that links a fairly well established 11 year cycle with a quasiperiodic oscillation? One would have to go fetch some exotic harmonics to establish a link, I guess it might be feasible if you try hard enough. For now, I'll go by NOAA's take:
    "External forcing from volcanic eruptions (submarine or terrestial) have no connnection with El Niño. Nor do sunspots as far as we know."

    You've said how you "feel". Reality does not care one bit how we feel, how about bringing some substance?
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  34. 82 "Cosmic rays don't care where they land" but cloud formation can occur without cosmic rays when dust particles are present. There are clouds of dust over parts of the ocean but the oceans cover 2/3rds of the earth. Vast areas are dust free.
    Yes we have satellites to monitor fields but the standard idea of the sun as a fusion reactor ignores the electrical basis. The reference I gave clearly explains the flaws in the present sun theories.
    81 Are you saying that the ocean temperature should change instantly as insolation changes? It is obvious that the ocean temperature changes slowly. Please read my citation if you think the sun is well understood.
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  35. 83 Forbush events are rare but useful for proving the connection to cloud formation. Here are two papers that confirmed the connection.
    The important driver of cloud cover is not the Forbush events but the predictable cycles driven by planetary positions.
    The ENSO has a pattern that is related to these planetary positions. It is described by the Landscheidt paper whose link I posted. The paper was also published in 2003 in Energy and Environment. I referenced the blog version for your convenience.
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  36. tblakeslee#85: "Forbush events ... useful for proving the connection to cloud formation."

    Except that connection is not proven. Once again, Dragic finds very few FDs have any measurable effect.

    As proof, you offer a Svensmark paper. Not impressed. But then, in the same paragraph, you state "important driver of cloud cover is not the Forbush events but the predictable cycles driven by planetary positions." Which is it?

    You can't play it both ways: either FDs have an effect or they do not. If planetary cycles are the drivers, what does that have to do with any possible cosmic ray induced cloud formation?
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  37. The Forbrush event is like when a building collapses in a fire. It is part of the fire but not all of it. It is handy for proving the connection because it is abrupt. The activity of the sun varies with the predictable cycles and produces important but not as dramatic magnetic fields.
    Didn't you read the Laken paper?
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  38. Thank you for finally providing some real references. However, no connection has been proven yet. One needs to look at more than one paper when assessing the state of knowledge about a particular issue.

    IF the effect is real, which is a big if, since there is still no physical mechanism for particle growth, it is minute, at best. That's according to Laken et al (2010), the very paper you linked.

    I note that an earlier Laken paper still couldn't find a correlation.

    Kulmala et al (2010) looked at various data over an entire solar cycle and failed to detect anything meaningful:
    "Our analysis shows that none of the quantities related to aerosol formation correlates with the cosmic ray-induced ionisation intensity (CRII)."

    Nothing is proven in the GCR/cloud "relationship." At best, it is controversial and if an effect does exists, it is very small. Laken et al (2010) concludes:
    "The climatic forcings resulting from such solar – terrestrial links may have had a significant impact on climate prior to the onset of anthropogenic

    I find a strong discrepancy between this language and your interpretation.
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  39. That kind of language is necessary to get a paper published in today's environment. The CERN paper also took years to negotiate and ended up worded in the weakest possible way. Notice the long list of authors on that paper. Almost like a petition signed by many supporters.

    You are right that much more work needs to be done to prove the whole theory but it is unfortunate that rational discussion has to be done in coded language to avoid being banished.

    The poor understanding of the sun's electrical nature is another example where the establishment has prevented progress to preserve their reputations. Alfven won the Nobel prize back in 1970 for his 1942 breakthrough in understanding of the true nature of the sun. He was an electrical engineer (as I am) so his work was ignored by the establishment. Now they will soon be forced to accept it. Please read this recent paper rediscovering his work:
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    [DB] Imputations of conspiracy betray a paucity of scientific basis for your position.  And are also a contravention of the Comments Policy; future such violations will result in comment deletion.  FYI.

  40. 89, tblakeslee,

    Do you have any actual evidence of this supposed conspiracy to squelch the advancement of science? [Which, by the way, is a clear violation of this site's comments policy?]
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  41. tblakeslee#89: "long list of authors on that paper. Almost like a petition signed by many supporters."

    No. All high energy particle physics papers have a large number of authors. It is standard practice in that highly collaborative field, where experiments are designed by one team, run by another and interpreted by a third; a process that sometimes lasts many years.

    "Alfven won the Nobel prize ... so his work was ignored by the establishment."

    Interesting. Did you see this month's update from the ACE satellite team? It's about how quiet the sun was through 2010, concluding thus:

    We know of no dynamics that can accomplish this reduction other than magnetic reconnection below the Alfven critical point.

    So, multiple authors does not a petition make. Alfven? Not ignored. Let's stick to facts from this point forward.
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  42. sorry about the repost. I was trying to refresh.
    Do you really believe that Kirkby got in trouble back in 1998 for telling the press,"The theory will probably be able to account for somewhere between a half and the whole of the increase in the Earth's temperature that we have seen in the last century," After more than a decade of battles to get the CLOUD experiment done, he is much wiser now.
    You are right that CERN papers often have a long list of authors. People want to share the credit for significant experiments. The 62 co-authors of this paper made a brave decision to lend their name to the work even though it was very controversial because it replicated and extended the results of Svensmark's SKY experiment which was soundly rejected by the establishment.
    You are also right that there is new work on the sun showing that Alfven waves account for the high temperature of the corona. Alfven tried unsuccessfully to sell this idea starting in 1942. In spite of his Nobel prize, he was often forced to publish his work in obscure journals. Most astrophysics textbooks still virtually ignore his work, which is essential for understanding the magnetic fields that keep us safe from cosmic rays and affect cloud formation over the oceans.
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  43. tblakeslee, The 62 co-authors didn't make a "brave decision". They participated in a study and rightfully have their contributions acknowledged as co-authors. That's how science stuff works.

    There is nothing whatsoever that is controversial about the most recent study from the CERN CLOUD study, nor is there anything very controversial about Svensmark's original observation that cosmic-ray-sourced electrons can influence the aersol particulation of sulphuric acid in a chamber with controlled humidity levels.

    What was controversial is the assertion that variations in cosmic ray flux have a significant effect on climate mediated through cloud formation. Whether this hypothesis has any merit in the real world, we know that it has negligible relevance for the very marked warming since the middle of the 20h century.
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  44. Cross-posted from another GCR thread.

    RealClimate has just published a post written by Dr. Jeffrey Pierce (an aerosol scientist). Dr. Pierces was invited by Nature Geoscience to author an article prior to the publication of the aerosol nucleation results from the CLOUD experiment at CERN.

    The article is well worth the read, the final paragraph is especially noteworthy:

    "While reported observed correlations between cosmic rays and clouds are suggestive of effects of cosmic rays on clouds, cosmic rays rarely change without other inputs to the Earth system also changing (e.g. total solar irradiance or solar energetic particle events, both also driven by changes in the sun, but distinct from cosmic rays). Thus, we must understand the physical basis of how cosmic rays may affect clouds. However, it is clear that substantially more work needs to be done before we adequately understand these physical connections, and that no broad conclusions regarding the effect of cosmic rays on clouds and climate can (or should) be drawn from the first round of CLOUD results. Finally, there has been no significant trend in the cosmic ray flux over the 50 years, so while we cannot rule out cosmic-ray/cloud mechanisms being relevant for historical climate changes, they certainly have not been an important factor in recent climate change."

    Backing the GCR hypothesis as a silver bullet for explaining the observed climate change the last 50 years is backing the wrong horse.
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  45. [questioning of motives deleted]

    I have spent years writing columns about global warming and green energy for Renewable Energy World so this new understanding is embarassing for me but I am forced to rethink. The CERN CLOUD experiment got my attention as it is well known that clouds are much more effective at altering the earth's temperature than CO2. If the sun cycles really do affect cloud cover it is a very significant finding.
    Buried deep in the online supplimentary material of the CERN but omitted from the printed paper in Nature is this graph:

    Here is an explanation from Calder: "starting at 03.45, ultraviolet light began making sulphuric acid molecules in the chamber, while a strong electric field cleansed the air of ions. It also tended to remove molecular clusters made in the neutral environment (n) but some of these accumulated at a low rate. As soon as the electric field was switched off at 04.33, natural cosmic rays (gcr) raining down through the roof of the experimental hall in Geneva helped to build clusters at a higher rate. How do we know they were contributing? Because when, at 04.58, CLOUD simulated stronger cosmic rays with a beam of charged pion particles (ch) from the accelerator"
    This looks pretty impressive to me and it is confirmed by Svensmark's SKY experiment. Certainly more work needs to be done but we should be excited at this breakthrough as the current predictions have shown that our present computer models are poor. Let's stop cheering horses and start focusing on finding the truth.
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    Moderator Response: [Dikran Marsupial] Please stick to discussion of the science and avoid discussion of motives, which is a violation of the comments policy here.
  46. Finding the truth is always the focus; horse racing is just a metaphor. Unfortunately Calder's dramatization of events leaves a lot to be desired in that department.

    a. What electric field shielded the experiment from all natural cosmic rays prior to 'turning off the field'? Muons arrive at the surface with an average of 3-4 GeV; you can't stop them without one heck of a field. With the field on, ions would be electrically removed from the chamber. So I question whether switching off the field really did anything more than allowing ions that were already there to start building up.

    b. Simulated 'stronger' cosmic rays means nothing in this context, as the pion beam in the experimental design is the same energy as the naturally occurring muon flux.

    So all we have is an experiment showing that charged particles ionize the atmosphere, allowing nano-size water droplets to accumulate. That result was well-known long prior to this experiment. However, bad news for the 'galactic' part of this theory: Because of the similarity between solar cosmic ray energy and the beam energy, these results require that solar cosmic rays have the same effect - and thus we must ask, why aren't there all clouds all the time?
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  47. Re #95,


    Good scientists are true skeptics and are genuinely interested (passionate) even in the pursuit of truth, and by good scientists I include Kirkby et al. and the scientists at RealClimate.


    And another comment is made by you about the models being "poor". OK, let us forget them, "garbage " as some believe. Now the paleo records tell us that the climate system is sensitive to external drivers, but one does not have to invoke the GCR hypothesis to explain glacial cycles or previous climate change. Occam's razor applies.

    And yet again, from the RealClimate post, "Finally, there has been no significant trend in the cosmic ray flux over the 50 years, so while we cannot rule out cosmic-ray/cloud mechanisms being relevant for historical climate changes, they certainly have not been an important factor in recent climate change."

    Please do not lose sight of that fact.

    In your closing sentence, you are proposing a false choice I think. Yes, let us continue to pursue research on GCRs (and that is happening), but that does not mean that we have to further delay taking action on addressing AGW.
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    Moderator Response: [Dikran Marsupial] Thanke for being so agreable about the snipping, makes like as a moderator much easer!
  48. tblakeslee (@ 95) I find your comment that you have "...spent years writing columns about global warming and green energy for Renewable Energy World.." rather incompatible with the links that give us some insight from where you source your information (dubious websites sadly). Surely someone that has been writing on these subjects for years would have learned enough about these subjects to address the scientific literature in it's entirety and access the expertise of scientists that work in these areas...
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  49. Richard Alley discussed this line of research during his 2009 AGU Bjerknes Lecture, which was entitled "The Biggest Control Knob". A video of his entire lecture is available here. He discusses cosmic rays starting at the 42 minutes 5 seconds mark.

    He pointed out that the paleoclimate data show that a significant variation in the amount of cosmic rays did not cause climate change.

    "There's really good science to be done on this. But we have reason to believe its a fine tuning knob...."

    Dr. Alley "Its a really interesting hypothesis....":

    "People say the Sun doesn't change much but the Sun modulates the cosmic rays, the cosmic rays modulate the clouds, the clouds modulate the temperature, so the Sun is amplified hugely...."

    "Now the Sun modulates cosmic rays..."

    Dr. Alley "...but so does the magnetic field".

    "And 40,000 years ago the magnetic field basically zeroed out in what we call the LasChamp anomaly for a millenium or so. And when it did, cosmic rays came screaming into the Earth system and you see, in basically all sedimentary records, this peak of cosmic ray produced nuclides".

    [ He displayed this chart ]


    "We had a BIG cosmic ray signal, and the climate ignores it. And its just about that simple. These cosmic rays didn't do enough that you can see it."
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  50. Here is a new paper that shows the sun-cloud connection in the real world by looking at diurnal temperature range (DTR) which is the difference between the high and the low of the day. You may remember that after 9/11, when the airplanes were grounded, the DTR increased due to the decreased cloud cover with no contrails.
    Plotting the DTR after 13 Forbush events (coronal mass ejections) that abruptly decreased cosmic rays by at least 10%.
    Figure 5 shows a DTR deviation curve that very cleanly peaks three days after the event at .5 degrees centigrade.
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