Cosmic Rays and the Weakening Solar Cycle

Posted: August 12, 2020 by oldbrew in cosmic rays, Cycles, solar system dynamics

Which brings us back to the old conundrum: do cosmic rays affect the Earth’s weather / climate, and if so, how and how much?

August 11, 2020: Cosmic rays are bad–and they’re probably going to get worse.

That’s the conclusion of a new study entitled “Galactic Cosmic Radiation in Interplanetary Space Through a Modern Secular Minimum” just published in the journal Space Weather.

“During the next solar cycle, we could see cosmic ray dose rates increase by as much as 75%,” says lead author Fatemeh Rahmanifard of the University of New Hampshire’s Space Science Center. “This will limit the amount of time astronauts can work safely in interplanetary space.”


Cosmic rays are the bane of astronauts. They come from deep space, energetic particles hurled in all directions by supernova explosions and other violent events. No amount of spacecraft shielding can stop the most energetic particles, leaving astronauts exposed whenever they leave the Earth-Moon system.

Back in the 1990s, astronauts could travel through space for as much as 1000 days before they…

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  1. Stephen Richards says:

    Many of them are gamma and neutrinos. That’s why they penetrate.

  2. Curious George says:

    Neither gamma nor neutrinos are influenced by solar activity.

  3. oldbrew says:


    Recent solar conditions indicate a persistent decline in solar activity‐‐‐possibly similar to the past solar grand minima. During such periods of low solar activity, the fluxes of galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) increase remarkably, presenting a hazard for long‐term crewed space missions.
    – – –
    IIRC this is due to the weaker solar wind deflecting less GCRs away than usual.

  4. JB says:

    Who can tolerate weightlessness for 200 days without developing major physical defects? GCR for astronauts be damned. The chief problem is artificial gravity. A helluva lot more can be accomplished in much less time and better prospects of physical recovery with some reasonable gravity.

  5. gbaikie says:

    Get Crew to Mars in 100 days. Don’t recycle your piss, instead bring more water- water shields against GCR, and don’t toss out your piss water before you get to Mars

  6. Curious George says:
    August 12, 2020 at 7:49 pm
    Neither gamma nor neutrinos are influenced by solar activity.

    You are right. They are nuclei and protons which produce gamma and neutrinos on impact with the atmosphere.

  7. pochas94 says:

    But the original question was how cosmic rays affect weather and climate. My question is do they affect clouds and their efficiency of precipitation? Does drying of the upper atmosphere cause a lowering of the emissions height and does this affect surface temperatures?

  8. oldbrew says:

    Svensmark says there’s a cosmic ray connection to clouds, but weather patterns show little sign of correlation with single solar cycle minima/maxima.

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