CERN: Pre-industrial skies cloudier than previously thought

Posted: May 25, 2016 by Andrew in atmosphere, climate, trees



Credit: CERN

CLOUD experiment at CERN shows that the skies were much cloudier before the industrial revolution than previously thought.

Adding to a fast growing list of surprised scientists, CERN have found that trees help seed clouds. This means that fossil fuel generated sulfuric acid isn’t as vital as previously thought, adding more uncertainty to the IPCCs industrial aerosol cooling theory. In a second paper they find that Galactic cosmic rays significantly aid in this cloud formation role.

CERN reports

Our planet’s pre-industrial climate may have been cloudier than presently thought, shows CERN’s CLOUD experiment in two papers published today in Nature

CLOUD shows that organic vapours emitted by trees produce lots of aerosol particles in the atmosphere when there’s no sulphuric acid – a main product of burning fossil fuels.

Previously, it was thought that sulphuric acid was essential to initiate the formation of these aerosol particles but the new research shows that these so-called biogenic vapours are also key to their growth, and can help them grow up to sizes where they can seed clouds.

“These results are the most important so far by the CLOUD experiment at CERN,” said CLOUD spokesperson, Jasper Kirkby. “When the nucleation and growth of pure biogenic aerosol particles is included in climate models, it should sharpen our understanding of the impact of human activities on clouds and climate.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) considers that the increase in aerosols and clouds since pre-industrial times represents one of the largest sources of uncertainty in climate change. The CLOUD experiment is designed to better understand such processes.

CLOUD has also found that ions from galactic cosmic rays strongly enhance the production rate of pure biogenic particles – by a factor 10-100 compared with particles without ions. This suggests that cosmic rays may have played a more important role in aerosol and cloud formation in pre-industrial times than in today’s polluted atmosphere.

Link to Papers published in Nature here. And here


(h/t to Clive Best (@clivehbest) for linking to the article)

  1. oldbrew says:

    Observational evidence as well.

    A paper published simultaneously in Science (Bianchi, F., et al. Science, doi 10.1126/ science.aad5456 (link is external), 2016) describes an observation of pure organic nucleation at the Jungfraujoch observatory by the same mechanism reported by CLOUD. The measurements did not involve CLOUD directly but most of the authors are also members of the CLOUD collaboration.

    “The observation of pure organic nucleation at the Jungfraujoch is very satisfying,” said Kirkby. “It confirms that the same process discovered by CLOUD in the laboratory also takes place in the atmosphere.”

  2. hunter says:

    So once again the climate consensus has got the fundamentals wrong.

  3. Paul Vaughan says:

    They’re engaging in some pretty heavy-handed distortion. Again politics dominates.

    Does everyone remember that there was a researcher who was ridiculed for suggesting a relationship between cosmic rays and trees?

  4. Paul this web site might interest you. There are links to many peer-reviewed papers. Some may not be correct but overall concepts can not be dismissed

  5. Paul Vaughan says:

    Paul Vaughan
    October 19, 2009 at 7:35 pm
    Dengel, S.; Aeby, D; & Grace, J. (2009). A relationship between galactic cosmic radiation and tree rings. New Phytologist 184(3), 545-551.
    “These observations have been largely ignored, perhaps because no underlying mechanism could be found to explain the intriguing results.”
    We must overcome the resistance to studying & commenting on things that are not well-understood. Open discourse should not be derided & oppressed.

    On the same:

  6. Paul Vaughan says:


    Figure 4 (diffuse light & VEI = volcanic explosivity index):

    This is timely, as I’ve dropped a related bombshell on Suggestions-18.
    (…and there will be plenty more to illustrate and say when the next level of insight is released.)

  7. oldbrew says:

    PV – the GCR + tree rings paper says:

    ‘For example, in a study of 305 tree-ring chronologies from North America, periods of 18.6 yr and 10.5 yr were found in 286 and 244 instances (Currie, 1991), respectively. These observations have been largely ignored, perhaps because no underlying mechanism could be found to explain the intriguing results.’

    The 18.6 year is obviously the lunar nodal cycle (18.61~yrs.) and the 10.5 year might be the solar cycle, given that these have mostly been shorter than the expected 11 years in the last two centuries.

    See cycles 15-22:

  8. oldbrew says: New cloud formation discovery may lessen warming forecast

    ‘Nobody knows just how cloudy skies were in the old days. Scientists have figured there were far fewer clouds than now, Kirby said. But the discovery of a new natural route to cloud formation suggests that cloud cover was in fact greater than scientists had assumed.

    If so, the way these simulations work, it would mean that greenhouse gases haven’t been quite as potent in producing warming so far as scientists thought. So, ton for ton, they may not be quite as potent in producing future warming either.

    Kirby said it’s too soon to tell how much less warming the new study implies.’

    Read more at:

    Why the science of clouds is still cloudy

    NB by far the main ‘greenhouse gas’ is water vapour.

  9. Jaime Jessop says:

    Another nail in the coffin of high climate sensitivity and another breath of revitalising fresh air for the ‘Svensmark GCR Theory that Just Won’t Lay Down and Die’ (much to the annoyance of warmists everywhere).

  10. craigm350 says:

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News and commented:

  11. Paul Vaughan says:

    There’s nothing to celebrate here. It’s trick PR. A fooled reaction won’t help. They’re saying nature used to matter (past tense), but doesn’t anymore.

    It’s heavy-handed distortion. I suggest cutting them no slack for showing so little appreciation and respect for nature and her domineering powers.

    Note well that they permanently ignore the decadal cyclic volatility of semi-annual earth rotation. That is how (own goal) they decisively sealed their own fate as quantitatively diagnosed corruption artists. It’s unforgivable.

    Only for serious, reliable health & security benefits could I be persuaded to turn a blind eye to distortion on that level. Even then I’m not sure I could do it.

    The community has cut them orders of magnitude too much slack on this paramount failure, opting for whatever curious reasons to restrict criticisms to more frivolous narratives which comparatively carry no weight.

    It’s the same thing as what happened with ERSSTv3b2 vs. ERSSTv4. Rather than focus criticisms on smoking guns, the community for whatever mysterious reasons opted to restrict criticisms to relatively frivolous narratives carrying relatively zero weight.

    Obviously that rouses suspicions.

    Bear in mind that if nature no longer mattered, the following would be impossible:

    That’s shaped by solar wind.

    And if anyone (say Ian Wilson or Paul Pukite) wants to empirically suggest that solar wind estimates include lunisolar bias, I’ll carefully consider whatever they illustrate.

    I don’t think you people realize how conclusive some of the proof is. The brainwashing from characters like Leif Svalgaard has impaired your judgement long-term and you’re not even aware of it.

    The Ring of Fire spatiotemporal correlation with ENSO is a game-changer.

    Without spatial indexing, the correlation is literally a flat zero. What Leif Svalgaard has to offer you is dimensionless vision. His trick is and has always been to fool you and countless others by focusing your attention on the time dimension while ignoring the spatial dimension. It’s a cleaver way to raze nature’s domineering beauty to a flat nothing in brainlessly malleable imaginations.

    I can only imagine that to do such boldly audacious misdeeds, one might have to have some powerful sense of overriding purpose. For example, suppose the security of NATO was at risk and it was up to me to fool the public to ensure security. It would have to be something of such magnitude to inspire such chronic, devout support of a spatially corrupt narrative.

  12. ren says:

    Paul Vaughan
    By Frank Bosse and Fritz Vahrenholt
    Our central star was in April and for the peaceful relations of the entire solar cycle (Solar Cycle SC) very little active. The designated SSN (SunSpotNumber) of 38.0 corresponds to only 50% of the usual this month. The pretty impressive drop in activity can also be seen very well in the following graph:

  13. ren says:

    Radiation galactic high.

  14. ren says:

    The highest ionization at an altitude of 15 km in accordance with the magnetic field.

  15. Neil Hampshire says:

    I have checked through their references
    I cannot find a single reference to Svensmark.
    They seem to be trying to present the work as a completely new concept
    Have I misunderstood something?

  16. Paul Vaughan says:

    Human nature, perhaps.

  17. ren says:

    “Abstract. To understand solar cycle signals on the Earth’s surface and identify the physical mechanisms responsible, surface
    10 temperature variations from observations as well as climate model data are analyzed to characterize their spatial structure.
    The solar signal in the annual mean surface temperature is characterized by i) mid-latitude warming and ii) no warming in
    the tropics. The mid-latitude warming during solar maxima in both hemispheres is associated with a downward penetration
    of zonal mean zonal wind anomalies from the upper stratosphere during late winter. During Northern Hemisphere winter this
    is manifested in a modulation of the polar-night jet whereas in the Southern Hemisphere the subtropical jet plays the major
    15 role. Warming signals are particularly apparent over the Eurasian continent and ocean frontal zones, including a previously
    reported lagged response over the North Atlantic. In the tropics, local warming occurs over the Indian and central Pacific
    oceans during high solar activity. However, this warming is counter balanced by cooling over the cold tongue sectors in the
    southeastern Pacific and the South Atlantic, and results in a very weak zonally averaged tropical mean signal. The cooling in
    the ocean basins is associated with stronger cross-equatorial winds resulting from a northward shift of the ascending branch
    20 of the Hadley circulation during solar maxima. To understand the complex processes involved in the solar signal transfer,
    results of an idealized middle atmosphere–ocean coupled model experiment on the impact of stratospheric zonal wind
    changes are compared with solar signals in observations. The model results suggest that both tropical and extra-tropical solar
    surface signals can result from circulation changes in the upper stratosphere through i) a downward migration of wave–zonal
    mean flow interactions and ii) changes in the stratospheric mean meridional circulation. These experiments support earlier
    25 evidence of an indirect solar influence from the stratosphere.”

    “Enhanced vertical wave propagation along the polar-night jet results in an increased
    convergence of waves in the upper stratosphere, on the one hand, while on the other hand it induces divergence in the lower
    stratosphere, by which westerly anomalies descend into the polar region (Kuroda and Kodera, 1999). This results in a
    warming in the polar region of the upper stratosphere, but a cooling (or a reduction of the warming) in the tropical
    stratosphere due to an enhanced mean meridional circulation, as schematically illustrated in Fig. 12c.
    Thus, the differences in the solar signal characteristics between the SH and the NH can be understood by the different
    durations of the radiatively and dynamically controlled stages related to different planetary wave activity. The solar signal in
    the NH is transmitted from the stratosphere to the surface through a poleward–downward shift of anomalous zonal mean
    5 wind, which creates a NAM-like structure in the troposphere. In the SH the planetary wave forcing is smaller, meaning the
    radiatively controlled stage lasts longer. As a consequence, the stratopause subtropical jet develops and extends to lower
    levels without a large poleward shift, meaning in turn that tropospheric solar signals in the SH do not resemble the SAM,
    which is related to variability in the polar-night jet.
    10 This dynamical solar influence from the stratosphere can be reproduced by forcing stratospheric zonal mean winds in a
    coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation model as shown in Figs. 10 and 11. A realistic numerical experiment with
    solar UV forcing in a general circulation model without an interactive ocean successfully reproduced the downward
    propagation of solar signals during NH winter (e.g., Matthes et al., 2006). More recent advanced middle atmosphere climate
    models, capable of reproducing upper stratospheric ozone variability as well as including the feedback to the ocean, can now
    15 simulate zonal mean wind variations with the solar cycle and their extension to the troposphere in both hemispheres as well
    as the observed differences in the NH and the SH (see figs. 10 and 11 of Hood et al., 2015).
    Van Loon et al. (2007) and Meehl et al. (2008, 2009) suggested that the tropospheric solar influence originates from
    amplification by atmosphere–ocean interaction in the tropical Pacific; i.e., a modulation of the ENSO cycle.”

  18. oldbrew says:

    ren: have you seen any specific numbers for the N-S delay, in hours or days? Thanks.

  19. Paul Vaughan says:

    1/4 cycle — see panel 4 on p.6 of Sun-Climate 101. Solar cycle length governs the lag.

    Also recall Rial (2012):

    The trick the belief cops use is to make the audience unconsciously assume that any synchronization would have to be spatially uniform. It’s a dirty tactic.

  20. oldbrew says:

    NGRIP means North Greenland Ice Core Project – I just looked it up🙂

  21. Paul Vaughan says:

    I tend to assume people know these things.
    The G in GISP & NGRIP is for Greenland (1/4 cycle phase shift from Antractica).
    Planktonic & benthic refer to ocean surface & bottom (analogously separated by 1/4 cycle).
    ∫ denotes integral.

    beautiful, fundamental differintegral spatiotemporal insight,
    analogous to multidecadal

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