2011-05-22 11:35:51When do you think skepticalscience.com will change its web page on cosmic rays?
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
58.166.133.186

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110521104802AA1vJvq

Actually, this question should be how will new research on galactic cosmic rays (GCR) affect the CO2 greenhouse gas theory of climate change.?

"New input to the United Nations climate model: Ulrik Ingerslev Uggerhøj, Physics and Astronomy, AU, along with others including Jens Olaf Pepke Pedersen and Martin Bødker Enghoff, DTU Space, have directly demonstrated in a new experiment that cosmic radiation can create small floating particles – so-called aerosols – in the atmosphere. By doing so, they substantiate the connection between the Sun’s magnetic activity and the Earth’s climate."
http://science.au.dk/en/news-and-events/…

Even Dr Roy Spencer was skeptical of the GCR theory and with this new experimental evidence, he seems to be changing his mind: "And, again I emphasize, the greater the role of Nature in causing past climate change, the smaller the role humans must have had, which could then have a profound impact on future projections of human-caused global warming."
http://www.drroyspencer.com/2011/05/indi…

These experimental results have been published here: http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2011/20…

As well, the CERN Cloud experiment is also working on this with their results expected later this year.

So how will this affect the climate debate from a scientific standpoint?

Haven't had a look at this data myself - but if there is a more substantiated link between GCR & cloud formation, I guess that means cosmic rays have had an even stronger cooling influence in recent decades. Perhaps the Advanced Rebuttal should be updated to reflect this latest data and the changes filter their way into the other versions.

2011-05-22 12:40:52Link not working
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

Try this one.

I had a look, and it doesn't seem like it amounts to much.  They have found direct evidence for the effect, not quantified it.  I trust Dana and especially Trevor know what they're talking about.  Mike likes to bring up these "arguments" quite often as well.

2011-05-22 13:56:52
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.97.203

Ottawa Mike is a moron, and his "question" is based on nothing more than a Roy Spencer blog post.  And we all know about the quality of Spencer's blog posts.

I haven't read the paper, but I read the press release.  As I said in my answer, they haven't even attempted to quantify a GCR impact on the climate yet.  Not worth making any changes at this point.

2011-05-22 14:43:09
Ari Jokimäki

arijmaki@yahoo...
91.154.109.46

There is plenty of research finding some kind of effect of cosmic rays but the effect is usually on the negligible side from the climate point of view.

2011-05-22 17:40:56
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
93.147.82.189

In the advanced rebuttal Dana already wrote that the possibility of GCR induced aerosol formation is not controversial. This new paper adds the experimental evidence of the effect. Nothing terribly new to those interested in climate in general.

A few specific points on the paper. They work at ambient temperature and sea level pressure; also, the ionization levels in the experiment were much higher than those realistically produced by GCR in the atmosphere. Both tend to enhance the effect. Finally, the baseline production rate variability in their experiment is larger than the ionization effect. Then, the impact on clouds is expected to be very small.
I think there's no reason to update the rebuttal

2011-05-22 19:22:06
Paul D

chillcast@googlemail...
82.18.130.183

They work at ambient temperature and sea level pressure

That must be an important issue?
Seems like an oversight unless they adjust their results to compensate.

2011-05-22 19:36:20
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
93.147.82.189

In the conclusions they write

"However we also stress that this is a qualitative result and that further work at lower values of P, T, [H2SO4], and [SO2] is required to perform an extrapolation to real atmospheric conditions,"

They are well aware of the difference but scaling the results to lower P and T is not easy given that the details of the mechanism of nucleation are not known. Probably they couldn't measure any effect in real atmospheric conditions.

2011-05-22 22:33:08
MarkR
Mark Richardson
m.t.richardson2@gmail...
134.225.187.197

Iirc it's pretty much always seemed to be the case that it was understood that GCRs can cause formation of CCNs. At least for the past 5 or so years.

 

But that's only the most important if CCN availability is the main limiting factor. You can have a trillion times more CCNs than you need, if there isn't enough water vapour then you won't get the clouds. Or if you already had clouds then extra CCNs aren't needed...

This probably explains why detection studies found some links between GCRs and clouds, but relatively minor.

 


And they haven't been going in the right direction to cause global warming. It's fascinating physics, but blaming it for global warming is getting a bit desperate.

2011-05-23 05:09:11
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.97.203

Any new research that remotely suggests GCRs could have an impact on temps and deniers like Ottawa Mike will jump all over it.  But this study doesn't have any particularly new results.  As Riccardo said, I mentioned it in the advanced rebuttal:

"In order for GCRs to successfully seed clouds, they must achieve the following three steps.

  1. GCRs must induce aerosol formation
  2. These newly-formed aerosols must grow sufficiently (through the condesation of gases in the atmosphere) to form cloud-condensation nuclei (CCN)
  3. The CCN must lead to increased cloud formation.

The first step is not controversial, and is being investigated by the CERN CLOUD experiment."

I suppose I could mention this study here too.  How's this?

GCR Cloud Seeding

In order for GCRs to successfully seed clouds, they must achieve the following three steps.

  1. GCRs must induce aerosol formation
  2. These newly-formed aerosols must grow sufficiently (through the condesation of gases in the atmosphere) to form cloud-condensation nuclei (CCN)
  3. The CCN must lead to increased cloud formation.

The first step is not controversial, and is being investigated by the CERN CLOUD experiment.  A recent study by Enghoff et al. (2011) also demonstrated some success in inducing aerosol formation under laboratory conditions, although they have yet to test the process under atmosphric conditions.

However, the second step is often glossed over by those espousing the GCR warming theory...

2011-05-23 08:17:30
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.97.203

Cripes, now Camburn has referenced this paper.  Maybe it would be worth doing a blog post about, mentioning that we added a reference to it in the rebuttal, but it really doesn't change anything.  Can somebody send me the full paper?  dana1981@yahoo.com

2011-05-23 08:20:57
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

Camburn gives the link to the paper itself, here.

2011-05-23 08:27:50
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.97.203

Oh I didn't notice that, thanks Alex.  Guess I'll start working on the post now.

2011-05-23 08:30:34
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

Sorry, that's not the link, looked a bit closer.  It's from 2010.

Let me see if I can find it...

2011-05-23 08:35:14
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.97.203

Oh yeah, Camburn is referencing a different paper altogether.  My mistake.

2011-05-23 08:40:39Grumble grumble.....
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

I don't have access to AGU, and the only other document that I could find that related to the paper was this poster.

Maybe some of these quotes would be important?

"Here we report on an experimental study of sulfuric acid aerosol nucleation under near atmospheric conditions using a 580 MeV electron beam and a 511/1275 keV Na-22 gamma source to ionize the volume of the reaction chamber."

"Similar results are achieved using gamma rays and electrons."

What it seems to be finding is if the nucleation is affected by the source of ionization.  I wouldn't even say that this was to provide observational evidence of the effect (they say it has already been observed), just that the effect can be caused by multiple sources and that future lab experiments can be more easily performed (with gamma rays instead of electron beams).

2011-05-23 09:02:59
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.97.203

Yeah, I don't think the paper really deserves a post, except if there's a bunch of noise made about it (by you-know-who).  When I saw Camburn reference a GCR paper I (wrongly) assumed it was this one.  But if the deniers aren't going nuts over it, I don't think there's any particular reason to post on it, because the results weren't exactly Earth-shattering.

Watts did a post on it, but all he did was re-post the press release with no commentary.  No big deal.

2011-05-23 09:18:24
Albatross
Julian Brimelow
stomatalaperture@gmail...
199.126.232.206

If anyone needs the new AGU on GCRs paper then I can probably get hold of it and email it out.

 

John Cook,

Having worked in the field of cloud microphysics for a while I might be able to speak to this-- the GCR hypothesis, even if true, still requires some critical steps to be accomplished (as noted by Mark R and Dana) before cloud cover can be affected (e.g., CCNs are a necessary but not sufficient condition for the formation of cloud droplets), and people forget that one also needs other factors such as ascent.  So a whole bunch of factors have to be just right.  Is it possible that GCRs could have an effect--- and that is pretty neat if they do, but it is highly unlikely that it explains even a fraction of the warming/cooling.  The criteria required to form clouds are incredibly unlikely so as to be persistent enough to have any long term impact.  I'm rushing this, so I hope that I am making sense. What I'm trying to say is that GCRs, if they have any impact it is likely to be transient and of small amplitude.  And this probably explains why the correlations and statistical relationships are so small.

I am also wary of these studies that calc. statistical significance using a huge number of data points.  If you make your sample large enough you can achieve 95% to 99% statistical significance or higher, while only explaining a tiny fraction of the variance in the dependent variable (e.g., cloud cover).

It is also annoying that people like Spencer inflate the importance (and downplay the huge uncertainty) of a factor that explains such a tiny fraction of the variance in clouds (just one aspect of the climate system), while downplaying the much larger variance explained in global temperatures by CO2 alone, while exaggerating the uncertainty.

2011-05-23 09:54:34
Albatross
Julian Brimelow
stomatalaperture@gmail...
199.126.232.206

John,

To answer your question ;)  Yes, we should try and keep all the pages up to date.  In this case, context is especially important though.

2011-05-29 03:09:16
Albatross
Julian Brimelow
stomatalaperture@gmail...
199.126.232.206

RC have weighed in with a pretty damning review of the paper.  Some mighty, and as yet still unexplained, big jumps still need to be made to relate changes in GCRs to changes in clouds.

2011-05-29 03:50:39
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.97.203

Yep I saw that too, Alby.  Not so much a damning review of the paper as the press release, which made the connection to cloud formation which wasn't supported by the paper.  I think the paper itself was fine, they just went crazy with the press release, and so the "skeptics" did too.  Bottom line, this paper doesn't really do anything to solidify a GCR-climate link.  There probably is a link, but it's a small effect, and certainly can't explain warming over the past 60 years.

2011-05-29 05:03:34
Albatross
Julian Brimelow
stomatalaperture@gmail...
199.126.232.206

Right you are Dana...jeez I think I need a break!  

On a lighter note, I liked the title of the post at RC....