Monday, September 5, 2011

Mike Butler: Cloud formation cosmic ray link

An experiment at CERN, Europe's high-energy physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, is finding tentative evidence that “cosmic rays” from deep space might be creating clouds in Earth's atmosphere and changing the climate. Climate change sceptics have seized upon this as proof that cosmic rays and the sun — not manmade carbon emissions — are the major factors influencing global climate.

But the reports, published on August 24, 2011, in Nature, do stoke a long-running argument over the role of radiation from distant stars in altering the climate, and show that, despite Al Gore’s protestations to the contrary, that the science is far, far from settled.

CERN — the organization that invented the World Wide Web — built a stainless steel chamber that precisely re-created the Earth’s atmosphere. In this chamber, 63 CERN scientists from 17 European and American institutes demonstrated that cosmic rays promote the formation of molecules that in Earth’s atmosphere can grow and seed clouds. The cloudier it is, the cooler it will be.

“The number of cosmic rays that reach Earth depends on the Sun. When the Sun is emitting lots of radiation, its magnetic field shields the planet from cosmic rays. During periods of low solar activity, more cosmic rays reach Earth,” the Nature article reported.

“Scientists agree on these basic facts, but there is far less agreement on whether cosmic rays can have a large role in cloud formation and climate change. Since the late 1990s, some have suggested that when high solar activity lowers levels of cosmic rays, that in turn reduces cloud cover and warms the planet. Others say that there is no statistical evidence for such an effect”, the report said.

Details of the CERN “Cloud” chamber and of the experiments may be read by following the links detailed below.

Cloud formation may be linked to cosmic rays,
Cloud: An atmospheric research facility at CERN
CERN Finds "Significant" Cosmic Ray Cloud Effect,

1 comment:

Stuart Mathieson said...

Another pathetic attempt to sow seeds of doubt. No obvious increase in radiation from our own star that accounts for global warming so lets find another external source of forcing that wont cost Big Biz, particularly Big Fossil Fuel Biz!