Monday, March 19, 2018

GWPF Newsletter: The Worsening Cosmic Ray Situation

Implications For Climate Change

In this newsletter:

1) The Worsening Cosmic Ray Situation
Tony Phillips,, 5 March 2018
2) Henrik & Jacob Svensmark: The Connection Between Cosmic Rays, Clouds And Climate
Global Warming Policy Foundation, 13 March 2018

3) Interview with Prof Henrik Svensmark & Jacob Svensmark
Global Warming Policy Foundation, 13 March 2018
4) Save The Date: The Cosmic Ray Climate Link – From Geological Time Scales To 20th Century Climate Change
Global Warming Policy Foundation
5) Cosmic Rays, Solar Activity, And Changes In The Earth’s Climate
Bulletin of the Russian Academy of Sciences: Physics, February 2017, Volume 81, Issue 2, pp 252–254
6) How Declining Solar Activity Could Hit The Economy
Forbes, 13 March 2018
7) GWPF Coverage of Cosmic Rays & Climate Research
Full coverage

Full details:

1) The Worsening Cosmic Ray Situation
Tony Phillips,, 5 March 2018
Cosmic rays are bad–and they’re getting worse. That’s the conclusion of a new paper just published in the research journal Space Weather. The authors, led by Prof. Nathan Schwadron of the University of New Hampshire, show that radiation from deep space is dangerous and intensifying faster than previously expected.
The story begins four years ago when Schwadron and colleagues first sounded the alarm about cosmic rays. Analyzing data from the Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRaTER) instrument onboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), they found that cosmic rays in the Earth-Moon system were peaking at levels never before seen in the Space Age. The worsening radiation environment, they pointed out, was a potential peril to astronauts, curtailing how long they could safely travel through space.
This figure from their original 2014 paper shows the number of days a 30-year old male astronaut flying in a spaceship with 10 g/cm2 of aluminum shielding could go before hitting NASA-mandated radiation limits:
In the 1990s, the astronaut could spend 1000 days in interplanetary space. In 2014 … only 700 days. “That’s a huge change,” says Schwadron.
Galactic cosmic rays come from outside the solar system. They are a mixture of high-energy photons and sub-atomic particles accelerated toward Earth by supernova explosions and other violent events in the cosmos. Our first line of defense is the sun:  The sun’s magnetic field and solar wind combine to create a porous ‘shield’ that fends off cosmic rays attempting to enter the solar system. The shielding action of the sun is strongest during Solar Maximum and weakest during Solar Minimum–hence the 11-year rhythm of the mission duration plot above.
The problem is, as the authors note in their new paper, the shield is weakening: “Over the last decade, the solar wind has exhibited low densities and magnetic field strengths, representing anomalous states that have never been observed during the Space Age. As a result of this remarkably weak solar activity, we have also observed the highest fluxes of cosmic rays.”
Back in 2014, Schwadron et al used a leading model of solar activity to predict how bad cosmic rays would become during the next Solar Minimum, now expected in 2019-2020.  “Our previous work suggested a ∼ 20% increase of dose rates from one solar minimum to the next,” says Schwadron. “In fact, we now see that actual dose rates observed by CRaTER in the last 4 years exceed the predictions by ∼ 10%, showing that the radiation environment is worsening even more rapidly than we expected.” In this plot bright green data points show the recent excess:
The data Schwadron et al have been analyzing come from CRaTER on the LRO spacecraft in orbit around the Moon, which is point-blank exposed to any cosmic radiation the sun allows to pass. Here on Earth, we have two additional lines of defense: the magnetic field and atmosphere of our planet. Both mitigate cosmic rays.
But even on Earth the increase is being felt. The students of Earth to Sky Calculus have been launching space weather balloons to the stratosphere almost weekly since 2015. Sensors onboard those balloons show a 13% increase in radiation (X-rays and gamma-rays) penetrating Earth’s atmosphere:
X-rays and gamma-rays detected by these balloons are “secondary cosmic rays,” produced by the crash of primary cosmic rays into Earth’s upper atmosphere. They trace radiation percolating down toward our planet’s surface. The energy range of the sensors, 10 keV to 20 MeV, is similar to that of medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.
How does this affect us? Cosmic rays penetrate commercial airlines, dosing passengers and flight crews so much that pilots are classified by the International Commission on Radiological Protection as occupational radiation workers. Some research shows that cosmic rays can seed clouds and trigger, potentially altering weather and climate. Furthermore, there are studies ( #1#2#3#4) linking cosmic rays with cardiac arrhythmias in the general population.
Cosmic rays will intensify even more in the years ahead as the sun plunges toward what may be the deepest Solar Minimum in more than a century. Stay tuned for updates.
2) Henrik & Jacob Svensmark: The Connection Between Cosmic Rays, Clouds And Climate
Global Warming Policy Foundation, 13 March 2018
Prof Henrik Svensmark & Jacob Svensmark

Prof Henrik Svensmark & Jacob Svensmark: The Connection Between Cosmic Rays, Clouds and Climate
Presentation in the House of Lords, London, 13 March 2018 (pdf) 
3) Interview with Prof Henrik Svensmark & Jacob Svensmark
Global Warming Policy Foundation, 13 March 2018

Prof Henrik Svensmark & Jacob Svensmark discuss the connection between cosmic rays, clouds and climate with the GWPF’s Benny Peiser and Jonny Bairstow from Energy Live News.
Full interview
4) Save The Date: 4 April 2018 -- London

Nir J. Shaviv:
 The Cosmic Ray Climate Link – From Geological Time Scales To 20th Century Climate Change
Global Warming Policy Foundation, 4 April 2018, 6pm
The 20th century has seen a notable temperature rise, generally attributed to the greenhouse effect of anthropogenic gases, and a future "business as usual" policy is generally believed to be catastrophic. However, significant evidence indicates that the sun plays a major role in climate change. We will review the evidence which proves the existence and quantifies the physical mechanism linking between solar activity and climate — galactic cosmic ray ionization of the atmosphere and its effect on cloud cover. In particular, we will show that the link operates on geological time scales, linking our galactic motion to long term climate variations. We will see that once the link is taken into account, a much more consistent picture for 20th century global warming is obtained. In it, climate sensitivity is low and future climate change is benign.

Nir J. Shaviv is Professor at the Racah Institute of Physics of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, of which he is now its chairman. He obtained a Ph.D. in 1996 from the Israel Institute of Technology, and subsequently held postdoctoral positions at Caltech and at the University of Toronto. In 2014-15 he became a member of the Institute for Advance Study in Princeton.

Details soon.

5) Cosmic Rays, Solar Activity, And Changes In The Earth’s Climate
 Bulletin of the Russian Academy of Sciences: Physics, February 2017, Volume 81, Issue 2, pp 252–254
Y. I. Stozhkov, G. A. Bazilevskaya, V. S. Makhmutov, N. S. Svirzhevsky, A. K. Svirzhevskaya, V. I. Logachev, V. P. Okhlopkov
One of the most important problems facing humanity, global climate change, is discussed. The roles of cosmic ray fluxes and solar activity in this process are analyzed. Although several mechanisms explaining global climate change have been proposed, none of them are firmly grounded. At the United Nations summit in Paris at the end of 2015, it was decided that greenhouse gases are responsible for the global warming of our planet. However, the authors of this work believe the question of what causes global changes in the Earth’s climate remains open, and will obviously be solved once and for all in the next 10–15 years.
One of the most important problems facing humanity is finding the physical mechanism responsible for global climate change, particularly global warming on the Earth. Figure 1 presents the data on changes ΔT in the monthly average values of global temperature (averaged over the globe) in the near-surface air layer [1, 2]. The ΔТ values, shown as the fine curve, are counted from the average value of the global temperature acquired over the period 1901–2000. It can be seen that the changes in the ΔT values are irregular in character. A more or less smooth increase in temperature has been observed from around 1970 to the present. The thick curve represents calculations based on a spectral analysis of the monthly average data on ΔT for the period 1880–early 2016. The calculations show that the experimental data contain four main periodic components. Their characteristics (amplitude А in relative units; phase Ф and period P in years) are А1 = 0.406, Ф1 = 125.81, P1 = 204.57; А2 = 0.218, Ф2 = 31.02, P2 = 69.30; А3 = 0.079, Ф3 = 17.14, P3 = 34.58; and А4 = 0.088, Ф4 = 10.48, P4 = 22.61. The amplitudes of other spectral components with periods of less than 22 years are negligible. Summation of these periodicities for the future (after 2015) allows us to forecast the next few decades. The solid heavy line in Fig. 1 shows that cooling (a drop in ΔTvalues) is expected in the next few decades. The first harmonic А1 has the highest uncertainty in the considered method, due to the shortness of the series of ΔT values.
Full paper
6) How Activity On The Sun Could Change The Economy
Forbes, 13 March 2018
Simon Constable
Once upon a time, people would worship the sun as a deity. It was with good reason that they did so for the sun provided much of what sustains life on our small planet, warmth and bountiful harvests. How would we survive if the sun stopped beating down on us? It was a real fear.
Then came science and industrialization. As the new era took over, we mostly forgot the sun and its importance to our existence. (Of course, most people occasionally complain that it is either too sunny or not sunny enough.)
But just because we stopped paying close attention doesn't mean that it lost any of its importance to our world. And neither does the fact that the life of the sun is far more complex than many people realize. Indeed, if we are to believe the experts,the sun's behavior is about to change in a way that could have dramatic consequences for the food we eat and the broader economy.
That's why it is rather handy that an important book on the matter was recently published in paperback. Nature's Third Cycle: A Story of Sunspots by Arnab Rai Choudhuri.
The third cycle is that of the Sun and the dark spots which appear on the solar surface. The first two cycles are day versus night and the changing seasons.
Choudhuri gives us a condensed history of the study of the sun and of sunspots over the past few centuries back to Galileo Gailiei, whose discovery of the Sun's 27-day rotation marked the serious start of solar physics.
The remarkable tale includes skilled amateurs as well as professional academics, the rivalries between the main players, and a probable husband-wife murder-suicide thrown into the mix. Yes, there is a lot in the story of studying the sun, and the author does a masterful job of making it a fascinating read. Not too shabby when many scientific books do more to muddle the reader than to enlighten.
The names which might be familiar include the following: space observatory pioneer George Ellery Hale; discoverer of Uranus William Herschel; and astronomer Edward Maunder. It was the last of those men who identified a period from about 1640 through 1715 when the spots on the Sun disappeared. Usually, the number of dark blemishes on the solar surface tends to rise and fall in somewhat predictable 11-year cycles.
The period when the spots vanished, a so-called grand solar minimum, also coincided with a sort of mini-ice age with harsh winters and short cool summers. It became known as the Maunder minimum after the man who studied it.
Of course, the idea that the temperature of the earth could be changed by mysterious fluctuating dark patterns on the sun's surface is nothing if not controversial. But that doesn't mean it isn't true, as the author states:
[...] the earth indeed becomes cooler when sunspots go missing. Exactly how this happens is still a question on which experts seem to have very differing views and which is unlikely to be settled definitively in the near future.
Choudhuri takes pains to add that none of this negates the effect of industrialization on climate change. They are both critical factors.
However, the whole matter is complicated by the fact that while the world was warming up in the 20th century the number of sunspots were above their average count. Remember, other things being equal, more spots means warmer earth temperatures.
When the book was published in hardback in 2015, the author was reluctant to forecast the likely outcome of the current sunspot cycle.
But what has become more apparent based on more recent research from NASA is that we are now in a period of very few or no sunspots. This has coincided with the brutal winter we are going through now.
The question is whether we will enter another grand solar minimum just like the Maunder minimum which if history is a guide would mean a period of much colder weather winters and summers. More than a few experts with whom I speak regularly believe that we shall enter such a grand minimum along with the resulting bone-chilling weather.
If that happens, then there will be profound influences on the economy, including possible crop failures and rising energy use for home and workplace heating. Or in other words, expect bigger bills for food and energy. After a period in which the supply of both has been increasingly abundant then this change will likely come as a shock to many people and likely the broader global economy as well.
It's worth pointing out that the book's author, who is a professor of physics at the Indian Institute of Science, is nothing if not honest about the vast number of unknowns in the field of solar physics. Unlike mathematics which dates back millennia, solar science is a  relatively new field, not even 500 years old. All of which means we all need to keep our wits about us and study the matter to see what happens next.
7) GWPF Coverage of Cosmic Rays & Climate Research
Full coverage

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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