CLOUD experiment confirms cosmic ray action

Science at work

This experiment, carried out at CERN, was to test Henrik Svensmark’s hypothesis that cloud cover could be modulated by galactic cosmic ray intensity, which in turn is modulated by the Sun’s magnetic field. Stronger magnetic field, fewer cosmic rays reach the atmosphere, fewer clouds, therefore warming. Weaker magnetic field, more cosmic rays, more clouds, more reflectivity, therefore cooling. Nigel Calder reports:

Long-anticipated results of the CLOUD experiment at CERN in Geneva appear in tomorrow’s issue of the journal Nature (25 August). The Director General of CERN stirred controversy last month, by saying that the CLOUD team’s report should be politically correct about climate change (see my 17 July post). The implication was that they should on no account endorse the Danish heresy – Henrik Svensmark’s hypothesis that most of the global warming of the 20th Century can be explained by the reduction in cosmic rays due to livelier solar activity, resulting in less low cloud cover and warmer surface temperatures.

Willy-nilly the results speak for themselves, and it’s no wonder the Director General was fretful.

Jasper Kirkby of CERN and his 62 co-authors, from 17 institutes in Europe and the USA, announce big effects of pions from an accelerator, which simulate the cosmic rays and ionize the air in the experimental chamber. The pions strongly promote the formation of clusters of sulphuric acid and water molecules – aerosols of the kind that may grow into cloud condensation nuclei on which cloud droplets form. 

And Calder has some choice words on the treatment of Svensmark’s hypothesis:

For the dam that was meant to ward off a growing stream of discoveries coming from the spring in Copenhagen, the foundation was laid on the day after the Danes first announced the link between cosmic rays and clouds at a space conference in Birmingham, England, in 1996. “Scientifically extremely naïve and irresponsible,” Bert Bolin declared, as Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

As several journalists misbehaved by reporting the story from Birmingham, the top priority was to tame the media. The first courses of masonry ensured that anything that Svensmark and his colleagues might say would be ignored or, failing that, be promptly rubbished by a warmist scientist. Posh papers like The Times of London and the New York Times, and posh TV channels like the BBC’s, readily fell into line. Enthusiastically warmist magazines like New Scientist and Scientific American needed no coaching.

Similarly the journals Nature and Science, which in my youth prided themselves on reports that challenged prevailing paradigms, gladly provided cement for higher masonry, to hold the wicked hypothesis in check at the scientific level. Starve Svensmark of funding. Reject his scientific papers but give free rein to anyone who criticizes him. Trivialize the findings in the Holy Writ of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Read it here.

UPDATE: This story is, naturally, missing in action in both Fairfax and the ABC, the latter of which chooses to report this instead:

“Study proves climate a trigger for conflict”


  1. The IPCC is now looking VERY stupid with it’s claim that cosmic rays controlling climate is “Scientifically extremely naïve and irresponsible”

    Unlike great thinkers like Gallileo, Svensmark must be very pleased to see his ideas validated in his own lifetime.

  2. The IPCC is now looking VERY stupid with it’s claim that cosmic rays controlling climate is “Scientifically extremely naïve and irresponsible”

    Unlike great thinkers like Gallileo, Svensmark must be very pleased to see his ideas validated in his own lifetime.

  3. This is yet another example of how mainstream AGW science tries to shut down the debate by discrediting other scientists who do not tow the AGW line, but the truth will always prevail.

    So will we now here from Julia and Bob saying that they were wrong and the science is after all, not settled?

    • “So will we now here from Julia and Bob saying that they were wrong and the science is after all, not settled?”

      Hahahaha.. that’s very funny.. I doubt that either of them will be in politics when that happens, or at the very least, nowhere near the level of their current positions.

  4. Jayden Barr via Facebook says:

    “You can’t stop the signal”
    It goes to show that the ‘science is settled’ mantra will never and can never work. It’s an impossibility and erodes the credibility of any of the ‘consensers’.
    This is todays research, what of tomorrow?

  5. it’ll be past over, especially in the aussie msm, as nothing to see. its co2 stupid, gillard, gore and garnout say so. we dont need no stinking experiments..

    • Sadly, I think you’re right here. Passed over for a few reasons:
      1. It doesn’t fit the AGW agenda
      2. There is no big “this is conclusive proof of…” line.
      3. It won’t sell papers because of point 2.
      4. It appears to be actual science, which contains big words, is “boring” and “irrelevant” unless it can make clothes whiter-than-white, or shoes that talk, or can instantly cure a disease, afterall, you cant save a rainforest with a proton synchrotron, can you?

  6. Leslie Graham says:

    The leader of the project, Prof Kirkby, said:

    “Our work leaves open the possibility that cosmic rays could influence the climate. However, at this stage, there is absolutely no way we can say that they do,”

    The air-induced aerosols only grew to about 2 nanometres. To influence incoming or outgoing radiation to Earth, droplets must be of the order of 100 nanometres (nm). The growth rates would be really slow from 2 to 100nm because there simply is not enough sulphuric acid in the atmosphere.

    “There are a great many arguments as to why the cosmic ray cloud effect is not a major driver of climate change and these results do not yet impinge on those arguments,”

    And yet within hours the denier-porn sites are churning out nonsense like this and within days it will be yet another “Final nail in the coffin of AGW” no doubt.

    But please do keep it up – you illustrate the paucity of your own position far better than any scientist ever could

    • And the pathetic alarmist porn mongers like you dismiss it out of hand because it offends your religion. Two words, the second is OFF.

    • Leslie … don’t quit your argument half way through. Why don’t you keep going with the rest of it ….

      Nevertheless, it seems that air ions generated by cosmic rays can help cloud formation get started. Neither the role of aerosols or the effects of cosmic rays are well understood and this limits the ability of computer models to predict how the Earth’s climate will change.”

      We can now add this one to the ‘science is NOT settled’ basket, along with your AGW theory Leslie.

    • Well, I see a pretty accurate title on this post : ‘CLOUD experiment confirms cosmic ray action’

      That’s a long, long way from ‘Final nail in AGW coffin’, so that straw man you set up suffered being run through for no reason.

      The simple fact is : here is a possibiltiy for another explanation. It has been proven at one level in a laboratory, and so more funding, experimentation and research is warranted.

      At the very least, if people are truly interested in understanding the climate, they would be welcoming another piece to the puzzle.

      But then, cosmic rays don’t sound like they have much tax potential, so the statists don’t really like the theory much, and won’t give it equal time to the co2-controls-everything, because that one has got great taxation and control possibilities.

      Simply put Leslie- by coming out with your post you’ve self-identified as a religious believer and not remotely interested in science. If you were, why would you so fervently want to jump on and squash such a promising line of enquiry without anything more than cherry-picking the qualifying statements in the abstract?

      Let me guess : you don’t like the market because the market doesn’t like you. So anywhere you can get behind something that will squash free entreprise and increase state control gets you excited. I bet you hate those mining truck drivers with the $150k salaries, and department stores full of shiny goods makes you want to throw a brick in a window. I bet the sight of a nice car towing a nice boat makes you livid. Tell me I’m wrong, tell me you’re not like your stereotype. But somehow I doubt I am.

  7. gyptis444 says:

    Don’t get me wrong folks I too find the CLOUD results exciting but the last sentence of the abstract is

    “However, even with the large enhancements in rate [of aerosol production] due to ammonia and ions, atmospheric concentrations of ammonia and sulphuric acid are insufficient to account for observed boundary-layer nucleation.”

    I’m not sure what significance this has but it sounds a bit worrisome.

    Professors Nir Shaviv

    and Vincent Courtillot

    both take Svensmark’s hypothesis seriously and seem to have data correlating Forbush decreases (transient reductions in cosmic ray flux) with increases in low cloud cover within 5 days. For what it’s worth I guess the question becomes whether nanometre size particles can, within a few days, accrete enough additional molecules (of water) to achieve a size sufficient to act as cloud nuclei.

    Typically the bias surrounding the CLOUD experiment is quite incredible.
    Firstly, barriers and procrastination amounting to some 13 years beforehand
    Secondly, the Director General of CERN gags the CLOUD team from interpreting their results.
    Thirdly Svensmark and the Danish team hardly rate a mention and
    Finally, the telling graph is excluded from the hard copy in Nature and is relegated to near the end of the online supplementary material.

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