Cosmic rays and the Titanic

Titanic link?

Nigel Calder explores the correlation between cosmic ray flux and its effect on the climate, in particular in relation to the sinking of the Titanic (100 years ago on 15 April):

Although it seems a strange thing to celebrate, the Titanic Festival in Belfast, where the ship was built, will very soon mark the 100th anniversary of the liner’s foundering on 15 April 1912 after hitting a south-wandering iceberg, with the loss of a multitude of passengers and crew.

Comparing the £100-million Titanic complex newly built in Belfast with the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the travel writer Simon Calder has commented, “There is a great shipbuilding heritage, it is a divided city, but the Guggenheim is great on the outside but rubbish on the inside – unlike the Titanic building.”

What’s more, James Cameron’s movie “Titanic” has been remastered in 3D for the centenary.

Time then for me to dig out some slides that I’ve used off and on in lectures since 1999 as an illustration of Henrik Svensmark’s cosmic rays in action, controlling our climate. But first, just to show that I’m not being kooky, here’s a graph from a 2000 paper by E. N. Lawrence of the UK Meteorological Office. “The Titanic disaster – a meteorologist’s perspective,” related iceberg abundance at low latitudes to a scarcity of sunspots (see image top right).

And Steven Goddard recalls a much older article, from the Chicago Tribune in 1923, that also linked icebergs with sunspots.

The notion that the Sun is dimmer when there are few sunspots goes right back to William Herschel at the beginning of the 19th Century. The trouble is that the variations in solar brightness, as measured by satellites, are too small to explain the strong influence of the Sun on climate as recorded over thousands of years, and continuing into the 21st Century. That’s where Svensmark’s discovery of 16 years ago comes in, with the amplifier. Cosmic rays coming from the Galaxy are more intense when there are fewer sunspots and they increase the global cloud cover, so cooling the world.

Read it all here.

And while we’re on the subject of Svensmark and cosmic rays, Anthony on Facebook linked to an interesting series of videos in which Svensmark and Nir Shaviv are both interviewed. First three parts are excellent, will get to watch the remainder soon. There doesn’t appear to be a date, but from the upload information, it was made prior to the results of the CLOUD experiment.

One of the most astonishing quotes comes from Bert Bolin (he of the IPCC, who had decided prior to the IPCC’s formation that CO2 was responsible for the present warming), who says of Svensmark’s work:

“Scientifically extremely naive and irresponsible”

Yes, you read that right. The head of the IPCC said that reporting scientific results from an experiment was “irresponsible”. It is a wonderful quote to cite, because it exposes at a stroke the political agenda of Bolin and the IPCC, where the risk of derailing the pre-conceived plan to regulate CO2 is deemed “irresponsible”.

It’s also instructive to witness the hostility that Svensmark receives from The Cause. And they accuse the sceptics of being “anti-science”?

Here is the first:


Solar decline "unlikely to offset greenhouse warming": Met Office

Irrelevant, apparently

Naturally, nothing the Sun (1.9891×1030 kg of blazing hot nuclear fusion right on our doorstep) can do compares with what our omnipotent man-made CO2 can do – all, er, hundred odd parts per million of it. Another study,  undertaken by the University of Reading and the UK Met Office, dismisses solar effects on the climate:

New research has found that solar output is likely to reduce over the next 90 years but that will not substantially delay expected increases in global temperatures caused by greenhouse gases.

Carried out by the University of Reading and the Met Office, the study establishes the most likely changes in the Sun’s activity and looks at how this could affect near-surface temperatures on Earth.

It found that the most likely outcome was that the Sun’s output would decrease up to 2100, but this would only cause a reduction in global temperatures of 0.08 °C. This compares to an expected warming of about 2.5 °C over the same period due to greenhouse gases (according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s B2 scenario for greenhouse gas emissions that does not involve efforts to mitigate emissions).

Gareth Jones, a climate change detection scientist with the Met Office, said: “This research shows that the most likely change in the Sun’s output will not have a big impact on global temperatures or do much to slow the warming we expect from greenhouse gases.

“It’s important to note this study is based on a single climate model, rather than multiple models which would capture more of the uncertainties in the climate system.”

And just to ram home the “it ain’t the sun, stupid” point even further:

Peter Stott, who also worked on the research for the Met Office, said: “Our findings suggest that a reduction of solar activity to levels not seen in hundreds of years would be insufficient to offset the dominant influence of greenhouse gases on global temperatures in the 21st century.” (source – University of Reading)

Focussing on TSI as the only variable ignores many other possible mechanisms of climatic influence, not least cosmic ray modulation, which, whilst not proven, is about as convincing as the CO2 argument right now.

The abstract from JGR is here.

Another paper suggests cosmic ray influence on clouds

Figure 5 - click to enlarge

This time based on real-world experimentation, rather than laboratory test results as with CERN/CLOUD. In this case, the paper looks at the link between Forbush decreases, which are a decrease in the galactic cosmic ray flux in response to a burst of gas ejected from the Sun towards the Earth, and the change in diurnal temperature variation (i.e. the difference between night and day). Fewer cosmic rays mean fewer clouds, which means colder nights and warmer days, in theory…

From Nigel Calder:

More than a year ago I began a succession of posts on whether or not observations in the real world support or falsify the Svensmark hypothesis. The most explanatory was the first – see link

The focus was on the “natural experiments” in which big puffs of gas from the Sun block some of the cosmic rays coming from the Galaxy towards the Earth. The resulting falls in cosmic ray influx, called Forbush decreases, last for a few days. The game is to look for observable reductions in cloudiness in the aftermath of these events. The results are most clearly favourable to the Svensmark hypothesis for the Forbush decreases with the largest percentage reductions in cosmic rays. Scientists keen to falsify the hypothesis have only to mix in some of the weaker events for the untidiness of the world’s weather to “hide the decline”. 

The Serbs avoid that blunder by picking out the strongest Forbush decreases. And by using the simple, reliable and long-provided weather-station measurements of temperature by night and day, they avoid technical, interpretive and data-availability problems that surround more direct observations of clouds and their detailed properties. The temperatures come from 184 stations scattered all across Europe (actually, so I notice, from Greenland to Siberia). A compilation by the Mount Washington Observatory that spans half a century, from 1954 to 1995, supplies the catalogue of Forbush decreases.

The prime results are seen here in Dragić et al.‘s Figure 5 [image top right]. The graphs show the increase in the diurnal temperature range averaged across the continent in the days following the onset of cosmic ray decreases (day 0 on the horizontal scales). The upper panel is the result for 22 Forbush events in the range 7−10%, with a peak at roughly +0.35 oC in the diurnal temperature range. The lower panel is for 13 events greater than 10%. The peak goes to +0.6 oC and the influence lasts longer. It’s very satisfactory for the Svensmark hypothesis that the effect increases like this, with greater reductions in the cosmic rays. The results become hard (impossible?) to explain by any mechanism except an influence of cosmic rays on cloud formation.

The case for the Sun influencing climate by modulating cloud cover becomes stronger, little by little. By the way, just for the benefit of the Consensus Boys, this is how science works.

Read it here.

Cosmic rays "contribute 40% to global warming"

Cosmic ray shower

From The Science is Settled Department. This is what happens when you decide on a pre-conceived politically-motivated conclusion (that man-made CO2 is solely to blame for climate change) and then set up an entire bureaucracy (the IPCC) to build a scientific case to support it. You only look at matters that will support your case, and you shut your eyes to anything that might challenge that case – and the result is not science at all.

So it’s little wonder that independent researchers who have no political axe to grind are constantly making discoveries about the climate that the consensus boys don’t want to hear. Like this:

A key belief of climate science theology — that a reduction in carbon emissions will take care of the bulk of global warming — has been questioned in a scientific paper released by the Environment Ministry on Monday.

Physicist and the former ISRO chairman, U.R. Rao, has calculated that cosmic rays — which, unlike carbon emissions, cannot be controlled by human activity — have a much larger impact on climate change than The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claims.

In fact, the contribution of decreasing cosmic ray activity to climate change is almost 40 per cent, argues Dr. Rao in a paper which has been accepted for publication in Current Science, the preeminent Indian science journal. The IPCC model, on the other hand, says that the contribution of carbon emissions is over 90 per cent.

‘Cosmic ray impact ignored’

Releasing Dr. Rao’s findings as a discussion paper on Thursday, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh noted that “the impact of cosmic ray intensity on climate change has thus far been largely ignored by the mainstream scientific consensus.” He added that the “unidimensional focus” on carbon emissions by most Western countries put additional pressure on countries like India in international climate negotiations.

The continuing increase in solar activity has caused a 9 per cent decrease in cosmic ray intensity over the last 150 years, which results in less cloud cover, which in turn results in less albedo radiation being reflected back to the space, causing an increase in the Earth’s surface temperature. (source)

Expect to see this story reported widely on the ABC and in Fairfax…

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