Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Galactic Relevance versus Global Irrelevance !
Some history might help here. Edward L. Maunder reported in 1904 that the number of spots on the sun has an 11-year cycle. The low number of sunspots in the period from 1645 to 1715 produced what is known as the Little Ice Age, the coldest period of temperature during the last 1,000 years. It also called the Maunder Minimum, which once again I explained more fully in a recent posting on 21st of January this year entitled, ''We've Been Snowed By The 'Experts'!" In the article you will see an old print showing a ''Frost Fair'' being held on the frozen Thames River in London.
For many years, climatologists attempted to correlate the number of sunspots with various climate variables, including temperature and precipitation. By the 1980s these attempts were determined to be futile, because the percentage change in solar heating was found to be insufficient to explain the variations. However, this interest began to increase the connection between cosmic rays and sunspots, carbon-14 in the atmosphere, and beryllium-10 on the surface of meteorites. In particular, it was found that carbon-14 dating needed to be corrected for fluctuations in cosmic ray flux. Without such adjustments, many carbon-14 dates were inconsistent. The question raised, could cosmic rays affect other geophysical phenomena as well?
In 1995, Henrik Svensmark discovered a startling connection between the cosmic ray flux from space and cloud cover. He found that when the sun is more active -- more sunspots, a stronger magnetic field, larger auroras, stronger solar winds, etc. -- fewer cosmic rays strike the earth and cloud cover is reduced, resulting in warmer temperatures. ( see chart left ) He suggested that during the Little Ice Age when the sun was inactive, cosmic ray flux from space was high, cloud amount was greater which reflected the sun's rays back out into space and global temperatures were cooler. As the sun became more active after 1750, cosmic ray flux decreased, cloud amount decreased and global temperatures warmed.
Many critics were skeptical of Svensmark's theory until he explained the mechanism by which cosmic rays create more clouds. He designed a laboratory experiment to demonstrate how cosmic rays produce more cloud nuclei on which cloud droplets can form, which he called Cloud Condensation Nuclei (CCN). Most CNN that nucleate cloud droplets in water clouds near the earth's surface are composed of compounds of sulfuric acid derived from water vapor, sulphur dioxide and ozone (found in the air over the ocean). He built a Cloud Chamber containing these gases and found cosmic rays were ionizing molecules in the chamber. This process occurs extremely rapidly and he saw that the elections function as a catalyst to form clusters of molecules that grow and produce sulfuric acid CCN. When the air is lifted by normal meteorological process, these additional CCN form more dense and widespread clouds. A more complete experiment called CLOUD was conducted at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland early last year after numerous delays. Finally on the 23rd of August results of the experiment were published. They show that ionisation from cosmic rays significantly enhances aerosol formation leading to lots of cloud formation.
The Way I See It....Svensmark's theory of cosmoclimatolgy is now completely proven. He has discovered a complete chain events that explains the variations in global temperature that have puzzled climatologists for so many years and that has now led to an explanation for the recent global warming episode and now its 17 years of no further increase and signs of actual cooling. It would be prudent for the political leadership in the U.S., Australia and European Union to look more closely at Svensmark's cosmoclimatology for an explanation of global warming before restructuring our entire economic systems to eliminate carbon dioxide. If, in fact, Svensmark is correct, reducing the concentration of carbon dioxide will not only be the height of stupidity but will have little impact, anyway.