Nir Shaviv: The missing link between exploding stars, clouds and climate on Earth

Posted: August 16, 2018 by tallbloke in Astrophysics, atmosphere, climate, Clouds, cosmic rays, Cycles

Nir Shaviv is co-author along with Henrik Svensmark and others of a major new paper in Nature Communications titled Increased ionization supports growth of aerosols into cloud condensation nuclei. He has a write up at his Sciencebits blog. Here’s the introduction:

Our new results published today in nature communications provide the last piece of a long studied puzzle. We finally found the actual physical mechanism linking between atmospheric ionization and the formation of cloud condensation nuclei. Thus, we now understand the complete physical picture linking solar activity and our galactic environment (which govern the flux of cosmic rays ionizing the atmosphere) to climate here on Earth though changes in the cloud characteristics. In short, as small aerosols grow to become cloud condensation nuclei, they grow faster under higher background ionization rates. Consequently, they have a higher chance of surviving the growth without being eaten by larger aerosols. This effect was calculated theoretically and measured in a specially designed experiment conducted at the Danish Space Research Institute at the Danish Technical University, together with our colleagues Martin Andreas Bødker Enghoff and Jacob Svensmark.

shaviv-fig4

Figure 4: The correlation between the linearly detrended sea level measured using satellite altimetry (blue dots) and a model fit which includes just two components: The sun and el Niño southern oscillation. The excellent fit implies that the two components are by far the dominant source of sea level change on short time scales

Background:

It has long been known that solar variations appear to have a large effect on climate. This was already suggested by William Herschel over 200 years ago. Over the past several decades, more empirical evidence have unequivocally demonstrated the existence of such a link, as exemplified in the examples in the box below.

 


ShowBox 1: Examples demonstrating the Solar/Climate link

The fact that the ocean sea level changes with solar activity (see Box 1 above) clearly demonstrates that there is a link between solar activity climate, but it can be used to quantify the solar climate link and show that it is very large. In fact, this “calorimetric” measurement of the solar radiative forcing is about 1 to 1.5 W/m2 over the solar cycle, compared with the 0.1-0.2 W/m2 change expected from just changes in the solar irradiance. This means that a mechanism amplifying solar activity should be operating—the sun has a much larger effect on climate than can be naively expected from just changes in the solar output.

Over the years, a couple of mechanisms were suggested to explain the large solar climate link. However, one particular mechanism has accumulated a significant amount of evidence in its support. The mechanism is that of solar wind modulation of the cosmic rays, which govern the amount of atmospheric ionization, and which in turn affect the formation of cloud condensation nuclei and therefore how much light do the clouds reflect back to space, as we now explain.

Cosmic Rays are high energy particles originating from supernova remnants. These particles diffuse through the Milky Way. When they reach the solar system they can diffuse into the inner parts (where Earth is) but lose some energy along the way as they interact with the solar wind. Here on Earth they are responsible for most of the ionization in the Troposphere (the lower 10-20 km of the atmosphere where most of the “weather” takes place). We now know that this ionization plays a role in the formation of cloud condensation nuclei (CCNs). The latter are small (typically 50nm or larger) aerosols upon which water vapor can condense when saturation (i.e., 100% humidity) is reached in the atmosphere. Since the properties of clouds, such as their lifetime and reflectivity, depends on the number of CCNs, changing the CCNs formation rate will impact Earth’s energy balance.

The full link is therefore as follows: A more active sun implies a lower CR flux reaching Earth and with it, lower ionization. This in turn implies that fewer cloud condensation nuclei are produced such that the clouds that later form live shorter lives and are less white, thereby allowing more solar radiation to pass through and warm our planet.

Read the full article here

Comments
  1. BoyfromTottenham says:

    Would the fact that water molecules are polar and are thus attracted / repelled by electrostatic charges be relevant here? I remember seeing water pouring from a hose being deflected by a charged plastic rod. Now imagine that on a global scale!

  2. Adam Gallon says:

    That’s nothing to do with water molecules being polar. It’s due to having electrons stripped away by being passed out of the hose’s nozzle, generating a static charge.

  3. It sounds possible but it is equally possible that the increase in ionisation is just a coincidental factor with the real cause of global cloudiness changes being, as per my suggestion, solar influences leading to changes in the zonality / meridionality of jet stream tracks by affecting the gradient of tropopause height between equator and poles.

    How should we choose between the two possibilities ?

  4. udoli says:

    I think you can move any dielectric matter (like small pieces of paper) with a charged plastic rod. It does not need any ionisation. Nevertheless, the capability of ions to serve as condensation nuclei is used in various technical instruments, e.g. cloud chamber.

  5. Damian says:

    Could this also be the reason for the increase in noctilucent clouds?
    There has been a dramatic increase in the appearance of these clouds over the last 15 years.

  6. stpaulchuck says:

    but wait! the IPCC and the climate experts (sic) like Mann said over and over that the sun only has a minor impact on climate. So then, do we log this as ‘weather’ rather than ‘climate’?

  7. oldbrew says:

    Mann said…

    Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he? If he said anything counter to that he’d be finished.

  8. ren says:

    The problem is that the highest increase in ionization is observed in high latitudes. In these latitudes, a height of 10 to 20 km is the lower stratosphere, not the troposphere. In my opinion, the increased ionization of the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere increases the amount of thunderstorms and the escape of water vapor into the stratosphere.
    http://sol.spacenvironment.net/nairas/Dose_Rates.html

  9. ren says:

    The local increase in temperature in the lower stratosphere is responsible for the increase of water vapor in the mesosphere. Through these “holes” the water vapor escapes into the stratosphere.
    “In this study we show that correspondence of the main structures of geomagnetic field, near surface air temperature and surface pressure in the mid-latitudes, reported previously in the 1st part of the paper, has its physical foundation. The similar pattern, found in latitude-longitude distribution of the lower stratospheric ozone and specific humidity, allows us to close the chain of causal links, and to offer a mechanism through which geomagnetic field could influence on the Earth’s climate. It starts with a geomagnetic modulation of galactic cosmic rays (GCR) and ozone production in the lower stratosphere through ion-molecular reactions initiated by GCR. The alteration of the near tropopause temperature (by O3 variations at these levels) changes the amount of water vapour in the driest part of the upper troposphere/lower stratosphere (UTLS), influencing in such a way on the radiation balance of the planet. This forcing on the climatic parameters is non-uniformly distributed over the globe, due to the heterogeneous geomagnetic field controlling energetic particles entering the Earth’s atmosphere.”
    http://journals.uran.ua/geofizicheskiy/article/view/111146

  10. ren says:

    If we look at the anomalies of the geopotential height above the polar circle, we will understand that the water vapor escapes into the stratosphere above the 65th parallel. So it will continue during the solar minimum.

  11. ren says:

    Noctilucent clouds form when summertime wisps of water vapor rise to the top of the atmosphere and wrap themselves around specks of meteor smoke. Mesospheric winds assemble the resulting ice crystals into NLCs. In 2017 a heat wave in the mesosphere melted those crystals, causing a brief “noctilucent blackout.” Could something similar, but opposite, be happening now? Perhaps a cold spell in the mesosphere is extending the season. Another possibility is the solar cycle. Previous studies have shown that NLCs sometimes intensify during solar minimum. Solar minimum conditions are in effect now as the sun has been without spots for 30 of the past 31 days.
    http://www.spaceweather.com/archive.php?view=1&day=28&month=07&year=2018

  12. ren says:

    Factors governing the strength and frequency of stratospheric ozone intrusions over the Pacific‐North American region are considered for their role in modulating tropospheric ozone on interannual timescales. The strength of the association between two major modes of climate variability—the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Northern Annular Mode (NAM)—and the amount of ozone contained in stratospheric intrusions are tested in the context of two mechanisms that modulate stratosphere‐to‐troposphere transport (STT) of ozone: (StratVarO3) the winter season buildup of ozone abundances in the lowermost stratosphere (LMS) and (JetVar) Pacific jet and wave breaking variability during spring. In essence, StratVarO3 corresponds to variability in the amount of ozone per intrusion, while JetVar governs the frequency of intrusions. The resulting analysis, based on two different reanalysis products, suggests that StratVarO3 is more important than JetVar for driving interannual variations in STT of ozone over the Pacific‐North American region. In particular, the abundance of ozone in the LMS at the end of winter is shown to be a robust indicator of the amount of ozone that will be contained in stratospheric intrusions during the ensuing spring. Additionally, it is shown that the overall strength of the winter season stratospheric NAM is a useful predictor of ozone intrusion strength. The results also suggest a nuanced relationship between the phase of ENSO and STT of ozone. While ENSO‐related jet variability is associated with STT variability, it is wave breaking frequency rather than typical ENSO teleconnection patterns that is responsible for the ENSO‐STT relationship.
    https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/2017JD026890

  13. ren says:

    An increase in ionization during the solar minimum will increase the stratospheric intrusion in medium latitudes.

    Stratospheric Intrusions are when stratospheric air dynamically decends into the troposphere and may reach the surface, bringing with it high concentrations of ozone which may be harmful to some people. Stratospheric Intrusions are identified by very low tropopause heights, low heights of the 2 potential vorticity unit (PVU) surface, very low relative and specific humidity concentrations, and high concentrations of ozone. Stratospheric Intrusions commonly follow strong cold fronts and can extend across multiple states. In satellite imagery, Stratospheric Intrusions are identified by very low moisture levels in the water vapor channels (6.2, 6.5, and 6.9 micron). Along with the dry air, Stratospheric Intrusions bring high amounts of ozone into the tropospheric column and possibly near the surface. This may be harmful to some people with breathing impairments. Stratospheric Intrusions are more common in the winter/spring months and are more frequent during La Nina periods. Frequent or sustained occurances of Stratospheric Intrusions may decrease the air quality enough to exceed EPA guidelines.
    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/strat_int/

  14. oldbrew says:

    Can these two statements be reconciled?

    The mechanism is that of solar wind modulation of the cosmic rays, which govern the amount of atmospheric ionization [bold added]
    – Nir Shaviv
    – – –
    IONOSPHERE
    The Ionosphere is part of Earth’s upper atmosphere, between 80 and about 600 km where Extreme UltraViolet (EUV) and x-ray solar radiation ionizes the atoms and molecules thus creating a layer of electrons. the ionosphere is important because it reflects and modifies radio waves used for communication and navigation. Other phenomena such as energetic charged particles and cosmic rays also have an ionizing effect and can contribute to the ionosphere.

    The atmospheric atoms and molecules are impacted by the high energy the EUV and X-ray photons from the sun. The amount of energy (photon flux) at EUV and x-ray wavelengths varies by nearly a factor of ten over the 11 year solar cycle. The density of the ionosphere changes accordingly. [bold added]

    https://www.swpc.noaa.gov/phenomena/ionosphere
    – – –
    IIRC, Piers Corbyn argues that there are far more charged particles than cosmic rays reaching Earth.

  15. ren says:

    Oldbrew
    In the period of low solar activity, there are actually more clouds above the oceans. The reason for this is the lazy jetstream, which forms the upper lows above the oceans.
    https://www.tropicaltidbits.com/sat/satlooper.php?region=atl&product=wv-mid
    That is why there are heat waves on the continents. However, the surface of the oceans is cooled.

  16. ren says:

    As a result, the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere is reduced, which has a similar effect to the strong La Niña.

  17. oldbrew says:

    ren – yes, it may seem odd to some people that low solar activity can lead to heatwaves, but your jet stream mechanism shows how that can happen.

    The challenge is to convince climate alarmists who think man causes weather events :/

  18. ren says:

    A good example is the lack of strong tropical storms in the Atlantic. What’s more, the temperature of the southern tropical Atlantic drops.

  19. ren says:

    Please see the size of the cloud cover above the southern eastern Pacific.

  20. Bob Weber says:

    I agree somewhat S. Wilde that this a coincidental effect related to solar activity level.

    The real action is at the topics, controlled by TSI. The water vapor plumes at high latitude are driven there from the tropics. The amount of water vapor over time is related to the solar cycle(s).

    The heat waves result from dry air, high insolation, high UV index, when tropical evaporation is low, as happens during solar minimum years, and prolonged periods of low solar activity. Hence the droughts and heat waves of the 1920s & 30s. Hence the heat waves and drought this year in the US, the UK, and elsewhere. The land heat this year is similar to 1976, the end of low solar activity in SC20.

    The big contradictory evidence for Shaviv and Svensmark is the larger amount of cloud cover during and following the high solar activity cycles 21 & 22, when cosmic rays were low.

    To me cosmoclimatology is not doing much of anything compared to other solar influences.

  21. Bob Weber says:

    TSI driven WV plumes in 2013:

  22. ren says:

    Stratospheric Intrusions are when stratospheric air dynamically decends into the troposphere and may reach the surface, bringing with it high concentrations of ozone which may be harmful to some people. Stratospheric Intrusions are identified by very low tropopause heights, low heights of the 2 potential vorticity unit (PVU) surface, very low relative and specific humidity concentrations, and high concentrations of ozone. Stratospheric Intrusions commonly follow strong cold fronts and can extend across multiple states. In satellite imagery, Stratospheric Intrusions are identified by very low moisture levels in the water vapor channels (6.2, 6.5, and 6.9 micron). Along with the dry air, Stratospheric Intrusions bring high amounts of ozone into the tropospheric column and possibly near the surface.

  23. ren says:

    Still no conditions for the formation of hurricanes in the Atlantic.

    There has been a jump in the speed of the solar wind, which will increase the speed of the jet stream over the oceans.

  24. ren says:

    Bob Weber
    In essence, StratVarO3 corresponds to variability in the amount of ozone per intrusion, while JetVar governs the frequency of intrusions. The resulting analysis, based on two different reanalysis products, suggests that StratVarO3 is more important than JetVar for driving interannual variations in STT of ozone over the Pacific‐North American region. In particular, the abundance of ozone in the LMS at the end of winter is shown to be a robust indicator of the amount of ozone that will be contained in stratospheric intrusions during the ensuing spring.

  25. ren says:

    Bob Weber
    Stratospheric Intrusions are more common in the winter/spring months and are more frequent during La Nina periods.

  26. ren says:

    Currently, there are stratospheric intrusions in Australia. Visible excess of ozone.

  27. craigm350 says:

    oldbrew on August 16, 2018 at 10:23 pm

    IIRC, Piers Corbyn argues that there are far more charged particles than cosmic rays reaching Earth


    Galactic Cosmic Rays weather theory is BadPhysics.
    The flow of Galactic Comic Rays (#GCR) into the solar system is modulated by the strength of the Sun’s magnetic field – the 11year cycle. For GCR to be the agents of Earth weather (temperature) changes (eg via modulation of cloud formation by GCR) therefore REQUIRES the main Earth weather cycle to be the solar 11 year. However THIS IS NOT OBSERVED. The hugely dominant world temperature data signal is 22 years – the MAGNETIC CYCLE OF THE SUN. This is because the magnetic cycle of the Sun controls the connectivity of Solar wind particles from the Sun to the Earth which drives Earth weather. GCR flux (a mix of positive and negative particles from different directions) to Sun and Earth is not affected by the direction of the Sun’s field only the size of it.
    The total energy of Solar wind particle flux is 300x the total GCR energy flux.Therefore we say the GCR-Earth weather theory (whatever the importance of GCR in interstellar activity) is 99.7% wrong.

    Piers also discusses here;

    http://www.weatheraction.com/docs/WANews10No27.pdf (see pg 37)

  28. Bob Weber says:

    Hi ren. Your points about ozone are well taken. Thank you for posting the GPH images. Now we have smoking gun evidence that daily TSI drives daily weather. My point is the geoeffectiveness of cosmic rays is very questionable, considering the weather is responding to variable TSI.

    The cooling attributed to CRs is owed to low TSI.

    Please note in the previous image of 2013 the most active period was during the highest TSI months from May-July. In the next image from last year the least active period was during the lowest TSI months, July-Sept, following two long-duration low points in May and June.

  29. ren says:

    Craigm350
    However, the stream of secondary galactic radiation reaches the Earth’s surface (e.g., neutrons) and is focused by magnetic field lines in certain regions. During the polar night, GCR ionization is an additional source of energy in the lower stratosphere.

  30. oldbrew says:

    Craig – re The total energy of Solar wind particle flux is 300x the total GCR energy flux.

    And solar wind / GCR is a sort of inverse relationship – more SW less GCR and vice versa. But maybe it doesn’t matter much with that 300:1 ratio.

  31. Salvatore Del Prete says:

    GCR have a more significant role in the climate then TSI.

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