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Thread: Cosmic Rays and Clouds

  1. #1 Cosmic Rays and Clouds 
    Time Lord zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    man made clouds


    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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  3. #2  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope sculptor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    and
    from your friends at CERN:
    CERN: 'Climate models will need to be substantially revised' ? The Register

    "CERN: 'Climate models will need to be substantially revised' ...
    The first results from the lab's CLOUD ("Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets") experiment published in Nature today confirm that cosmic rays spur the formation of clouds through ion-induced nucleation. Current thinking posits that half of the Earth's clouds are formed through nucleation. The paper is entitled Role of sulphuric acid, ammonia and galactic cosmic rays in atmospheric aerosol nucleation.
    This has significant implications for climate science because water vapour and clouds play a large role in determining global temperatures. Tiny changes in overall cloud cover can result in relatively large temperature changes.

    Unsurprisingly, it's a politically sensitive topic, as it provides support for a "heliocentric" rather than "anthropogenic" approach to climate change: the sun plays a large role in modulating the quantity of cosmic rays reaching the upper atmosphere of the Earth... ... "


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  4. #3  
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    Rather than a newspaper report, listen to the man who ran the CERN experiment, Jasper Kirkby.

    "At the moment, it actually says nothing about a possible cosmic-ray effect on clouds and climate, but it's a very important first step"
    This item at What do the CERN experiments tell us about global warming? lists all the steps required.

    1. Solar magnetic field must be getting stronger
    2. The number of cosmic rays reaching Earth must be dropping
    3. Cosmic rays must successfully seed clouds, which requires:
      1. Cosmic rays must trigger aerosol (liquid droplet) formation
      2. These newly-formed aerosols must grow sufficiently through condensation to form cloud-condensation nuclei (CCN)
      3. The CCN must lead to increased cloud formation
    4. Cloud cover on Earth must be declining
    In short, the CERN experiment only tested one-third of one out of four requirements to blame global warming on cosmic rays. Additionally scientists have measured solar activity and the number of cosmic rays reaching Earth, and neither meets the first two requirements listed above.

    Read the whole item, and the "Intermediate" level piece as well if you're interested.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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  5. #4  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope sculptor's Avatar
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    lady,
    You are aware , of course that after admonishing me to:
    Rather than a newspaper report, listen to the man who ran the CERN experiment, Jasper Kirkby
    then linked to a site that is still only talking about what the cern people actually had to say, and quoted only one sentence at that.
    ....
    the reason I linked the above was as an addendum to zin's above link

    ............
    edit: epimetheus:
    it is 20 degrees (F) below normal here today, and has been for most days since early january
    ...........
    "c'm on global warming"
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  6. #5  
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    There's been observational studies of Cosmic Rays and Cloud which show no relationship:
    "Currently a cosmic ray cloud connection (CRC) hypothesis is subject of an intense controversial debate. It postulates that galactic cosmic rays (GCR) intruding the Earth's atmosphere influence cloud cover. If correct it would have important consequences for our understanding of climate driving processes. Here we report on an alternative and stringent test of the CRC-hypothesis by searching for a possible influence of sudden GCR decreases (so-called Forbush decreases) on clouds. We find no response of global cloud cover to Forbush decreases at any altitude and latitude." (emphasis bold added)
    Sudden cosmic ray decreases: No change of global cloud cover - Calogovic - 2010 - Geophysical Research Letters - Wiley Online LibraryIn order to work cosmic rays not only have to produce aerosols, but have to make the right type where they'd actually make a difference. For example, most of the lower atmosphere has sufficient cloud condensation nuclei to start condensation (aka clouds) near the standard 100% relative humidity--adding more won't make much difference. If, however, there are frozen nuclei which are often in short supply, you might produce frozen droplets instead of supercooled liquid droplets, release more energy (from fusion) and initiate precipitation (the same process as cloud seeding).
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  7. #6  
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    Kirkby is quoted in the accompanying CERN press release:

    “We’ve found that cosmic rays significantly enhance the formation of aerosol particles in the mid troposphere and above. These aerosols can eventually grow into the seeds for clouds. However, we’ve found that the vapours previously thought to account for all aerosol formation in the lower atmosphere can only account for a small fraction of the observations – even with the enhancement of cosmic rays.”

    Climate models will have to be revised, confirms CERN in supporting literature (pdf):

    “[I]t is clear that the treatment of aerosol formation in climate models will need to be substantially revised, since all models assume that nucleation is caused by these vapours [sulphuric acid and ammonia] and water alone.
    ................................
    from: CERN

    The CLOUD results show that trace vapours assumed until now to account for aerosol formation in the lower atmosphere can explain only a tiny fraction of the observed atmospheric aerosol production. The results also show that ionisation from cosmic rays significantly enhances aerosol formation. Precise measurements such as these are important in achieving a quantitative understanding of cloud formation, and will contribute to a better assessment of the effects of clouds in climate models.

    “These new results from CLOUD are important because we’ve made a number of first observations of some very important atmospheric processes,” said the experiment’s spokesperson, Jasper Kirkby. “We’ve found that cosmic rays significantly enhance the formation of aerosol particles in the mid troposphere and above. These aerosols can eventually grow into the seeds for clouds. However, we’ve found that the vapours previously thought to account for all aerosol formation in the lower atmosphere can only account for a small fraction of the observations - even with the enhancement of cosmic rays."
    ...
    The CLOUD results show that a few kilometres up in the atmosphere sulphuric acid and water vapour can rapidly form clusters, and that cosmic rays enhance the formation rate by up to ten-fold or more. However, in the lowest layer of the atmosphere, within about a kilometre of Earth's surface, the CLOUD results show that additional vapours such as ammonia are required. Crucially, however, the CLOUD results show that sulphuric acid, water and ammonia alone – even with the enhancement of cosmic rays - are not sufficient to explain atmospheric observations of aerosol formation. Additional vapours must therefore be involved, and finding out their identity will be the next step for CLOUD.

    “It was a big surprise to find that aerosol formation in the lower atmosphere isn’t due to sulphuric acid, water and ammonia alone,” said Kirkby. “Now it’s vitally important to discover which additional vapours are involved, whether they are largely natural or of human origin, and how they influence clouds. This will be our next job.”
    ....................................

    and
    Single Video Player
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    ...
    cosmic rays promote the formation of clusters of molecules (“particles”) that in the real atmosphere can grow and seed clouds. In an early-morning experimental run at CERN, starting at 03.45, ultraviolet light began making sulphuric acid molecules in the chamber, while a strong electric field cleansed the air of ions. It also tended to remove molecular clusters made in the neutral environment (n) but some of these accumulated at a low rate. As soon as the electric field was switched off at 04.33, natural cosmic rays (gcr) raining down through the roof of the experimental hall in Geneva helped to build clusters at a higher rate. How do we know they were contributing? Because when, at 04.58, CLOUD simulated stronger cosmic rays with a beam of charged pion particles (ch) from the accelerator, the rate of cluster production became faster still. The various colours are for clusters of different diameters (in nanometres) as recorded by various instruments. The largest (black) took longer to grow than the smallest (blue). This is Fig. S2c from supplementary online material for J. Kirkby et al., Nature, 476, 429-433, © Nature 2011
    .......................

    whither hence?
    ......................
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  8. #7  
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    Such processes, when shown important are always parameterized in the models. Unless or until there's an observational confirmation that shows there is a relationship than there's no reason to add it to the models.

    So far observational studies don't confirm cosmic rays has any significant, or even a minor measureable effect on cloud formation--even studies such as the one I posted that were specifically looking for the effect. The results are interesting, but thus far there's no evidence that it contributes or changes cloud distribution. Of course research will continue.
    Last edited by Lynx_Fox; April 16th, 2013 at 08:59 AM.
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