Archive for the ‘cosmic rays’ Category

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.


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


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.



An interesting contribution to the ice age debate here. Problems with Milankovitch and CO2-related theories are discussed.

Cha-am Jamal, Thailand

Gerald Marsh, retired Argonne National Laboratories Physicist, challenges the usual assumption that ice age cycles are initiated by Milankovich Cycles and driven by the Arrhenius effect of carbon dioxide. He says that the key variable here is “low altitude cloud cover” driven by cosmic rays. A paper worth reading.


  1. The existing understanding of interglacial periods is that they
    are initiated by Milankovitch cycles enhanced by rising atmospheric
    carbon dioxide concentrations. During interglacials, global temperature is
    also believed to be primarily controlled by carbon dioxide concentrations,
    modulated by internal processes such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation
    and the North Atlantic Oscillation. Recent work challenges the
    fundamental basis of these conceptions.
    The history of the role of carbon dioxide in climate begins with the work of Tyndall 1861 and later in 1896 by Arrhenius. The concept that carbon dioxide controlled climate fell into disfavor for a variety of reasons until…

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Uranus [image credit: NASA]

One of the two processes involved is “due to high-speed particles from outside the solar system, known as galactic cosmic rays, bombarding the atmosphere and influencing the formation of clouds”, reports If so, it looks like further evidence for the Svensmark hypothesis.

Changes in solar activity influence the colour and formation of clouds around the planet, researchers at Oxford and Reading universities found.

The icy planet is second furthest from the sun in the solar system and takes 84 Earth years to complete a full orbit – one Uranian year.

The researchers found that, once the planet’s long and strange seasons are taken into account, it appears brighter and dimmer over a cycle of 11 years. This is the regular cycle of solar activity which also affects sun spots.



Illustration of cosmic rays interacting with the atmosphere. A proton with energy of 100 GeV interact at the top of the atmosphere and produces a cascade of secondary particles who ionize molecules when traveling through the air. One 100 GeV proton hits every m2 at the top of the atmosphere every second.

H/T GWPF: Researchers have claimed a breakthrough in understanding how cosmic rays from supernovas react with the sun to form clouds, which impact the climate on Earth.

The findings have been described as the “missing link” to help resolve a decades long controversy that has big implications for climate science.

Lead author, Henrik Svensmark, from The Technical University of Denmark has long held that climate models had greatly underestimated the impact of solar activity.

He says the new research identified the feedback mechanism through which the sun’s impact on climate was varied.

Professor Svensmark’s theories on solar impact have caused a great deal of controversy within the climate science community and the latest findings are sure to provoke new outrage.


Blackpool, England [image credit: BBC News]

They say ‘these results are important as they demonstrate a previously unknown source of isotopes in the Earth’s atmosphere. These include carbon-13, carbon-14 and nitrogen-15…The findings also have implications for astronomers and planetary scientists.’

Thunder and lightning have sparked awe and fear in humans since time immemorial, says In both modern and ancient cultures, these natural phenomena are often thought to be governed by some of the most important and powerful gods – Indra in Hinduism, Zeus in Greek mythology and Thor in Norse mythology.

We know that thunderstorms can trigger a number of remarkable effects, most commonly power cuts, hailstorms and pets hiding under beds. But it turns out we still have things to learn about them. A new study, published in Nature, has now shown that thunderstorms can also produce radioactivity by triggering nuclear reactions in the atmosphere.


This paper published 10th March tries to identify major episodic solar activity by using both 14C and 10BeImage

(note to reader, above x-axis has advancing time running right to left)

Grand solar minima and maxima deduced from 10Be and 14C: magnetic dynamo configuration and polarity reversal
F. Inceoglu, R. Simoniello, M. F. Knudsen, C. Karoff, J. Olsen, S. Turck-Chiéze, B. H. Jacobsen
A&A 577 A20 (2015)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201424212


Aims. This study aims to improve our understanding of the occurrence and origin of grand solar maxima and minima.
Methods. We first investigate the statistics of peaks and dips simultaneously occurring in the solar modulation potentials reconstructed using the Greenland Ice Core Project (GRIP) 10 Be and IntCal13 14 C records for the overlapping time period spanning between ~1650 AD to 6600 BC.


I’ve included this on the front page because I think the bimodality of solar data is an important matter where this work adds weight to the effect being real.
Open access with registration


By Kelly Dickerson for Yahoo News:

ESA-Magnetospheres_600_MThe sun may be partly responsible for lightning strikes on Earth, and scientists think fluctuations in the sun’s magnetic field could be used to predict lightning storms weeks in advance.

The sun’s magnetic field can bend Earth’s own magnetic field, and this twisting and turning may be allowing an influx of high-energy particles into the planet’s atmosphere. These particles can cause a buildup of electric charge that can trigger lightning strikes.

From 2001 to 2006, during a period when the sun’s magnetic field was severely skewing the Earth’s magnetic field, the United Kingdom saw 50 percent more lightning strikes than normal, according to the new study. This severe skewing happens regularly as the sun’s magnetic field shifts. Scientists say this suggests the sun’s magnetic field could be used to predict the occurrence of lightning.


Solar timeline [image credit: Wikipedia]

Solar timeline
[image credit: Wikipedia]

This is a follow-on from another recent Talkshop post:

The principal cause of bi-decadal climatic variation – The Hale cycle, or something else?

The subject is a paper that appeared in 2009 which relates to the discussion.
Hopefully the following abstract of it speaks for itself.


Prolific solar-planetary scientist and long-time talkshop friend Nicola Scafetta has a new paper published in Physica A entitled ‘Global temperatures and sunspot numbers. Are they related? Yes, but non linearly. A reply to Gil-Alana et al. (2014)’ which comments on Gil-Alana et al 2014; a paper purporting to dismiss any correlation between solar activity and terrestrial surface temperature. Nicola gently points out the limitations of their methods and patiently explains how the astronomical-solar signal can be found in the data. Here is Figure 3 to whet your appetite:



Fig. 3. (A) Annually solved HadCRUT3 global surface temperature record [34] from 1850 to 2013. (B) Power spectrum density functions calculated using the MEM method (using M = N/2 = 82) and the MTM periodogram f (p) [35,36]: the calculations were made with the SSA–MTM Toolkit. Several spectral peaks (e.g.: at about 9.1, 10.4, 20 and 60 yr) are statistically significant above the 95% confidence level, and their solar, lunar and astronomical origin is explained in the literature (e.g.: Scafetta [10,32,33,25]).

Nicola also provides plots of several of the various solar and temperature related indices and techniques for representing them over a wide range of timescales which clearly demonstrate the plain fact of the close coherence between the activity of our host star which supplies all our energy, and the fluctuations of the lovely moderate temperatures we live in on the surface of our planet.


A strange effect is months of delay of cosmic rays from solar sunspot cycle, not constant. This also has implications for 14C.Image

A plot of the two datasets taken from a live spreadsheet implementing data delay, set here for zero. Unfortunately the data tends to cause filter ringing and is impulsive anyway so this is not up to my usual standards of fidelity. A line plot doesn’t help but is clearer. Correlation peaks at r2 = 0.8, neutron data is inverted, data is normalised and made more comparable.

I’ve been meaning to post this for some time but the saga unfolding at Jo Nova with “a theory” where currently I have no idea whether it is reasonable might link.


From 16th May 2014 CERN newswire, I missed it

CERN Experiment Sheds New Light on Cloud Formation

Geneva, 16 May 2014 – In a paper published in the journal Science today, CERN’s* CLOUD** experiment has shown that biogenic vapours emitted by trees and oxidised in the atmosphere have a significant impact on the formation of clouds, thus helping to cool the planet. These biogenic aerosols are what give forests seen from afar their characteristic blue haze. The CLOUD study shows that the oxidised biogenic vapours bind with sulphuric acid to form embryonic particles which can then grow to become the seeds on which cloud droplets can form. This result follows previous measurements from CLOUD showing that sulphuric acid alone could not form new particles in the atmosphere as had been previously assumed.

“This is a very important result,” said CLOUD spokesperson Jasper Kirkby,…


Solar rotation [image credit: NASA]

Solar rotation [image credit: NASA]

Evidence of a direct relationship between the Sun and the weather – apart from the obvious – has been found by a research group.

Quote: ‘scientists found that when the speed and intensity of the solar winds increased, so too did the rate of lightning strikes.’

That raises the issue of cyclical weather events driven by the Sun.


From the Hockey Schtick, via the GWPF, news of a new paper supporting the Svensmark hypothesis:

10/04/14 The Hockey Schtick

cloudsA paper published today in Environmental Research Letters corroborates the Svensmark cosmic ray theory of climate, whereby tiny 0.1% changes in solar activity are amplified via the effect on cosmic rays and cloud formation, which in turn may control global temperatures.

The authors find cosmic ray variations due to changes over solar cycles may have as much as 10 times larger effect than previous studies have estimated. The paper also finds that a tiny 0.2C temperature increase increases the cosmic ray induced cloud condensation nuclei by around 50%, thus acting as a natural homeostatic mechanism. 


wpid-PRP-Censured.jpgOver the last five years there’s been a revival of an old hypothesis which suggests that the motion of the planets around the Sun modulates its output, and that variation in the Sun’s output affects the Earth’s weather and in the longer term, shifts in regional and global climate. This revival has been most visible here in the blogosphere, where ideas can be kicked around with less professional reputational risk, and a faster exchange and development of concepts and narratives can take place. There has also been a steady trickle of papers published in the scientific literature relevant to the theory, and these have been championed and denigrated by bloggers on both sides of the issue.

Naturally, in the overheated atmosphere of the climate debate, the second part of the idea is especially controversial, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change telling us that human emitted ‘greenhouse gases’ are the primary driver of global warming since the middle of the last century. They also say the Sun’s variation has very little effect on climate change. An IPCC author recently took exception to our special edition on the theory and got the journal we published it in axed. The first part of the idea is controversial too, as the received wisdom from most mainstream solar physicists is that the planets are too small and too far from the Sun for their motion to affect it. They are sure that the Sun runs an internal ‘dynamo’ (Babcock & Leighton) and ‘chronometer’ (Dicke) which accounts for the observations of its cyclic variations that have been made over the centuries.


H/T to Gerry Pease for alerting me to this paper from last year by Steinhilber and Beer which lays out a solar prediction from their analysis of their reconstruction of solar activity from proxy data.

Prediction of solar activity for the next 500 years
Friedhelm Steinhilber1 and Jürg Beer1
Received 18 May 2012; revised 18 February 2013; accepted 2 March 2013.

Recently, a new low-noise record of solar activity has been reconstructed for the past 9400 years by combining two 10Be records from Greenland and Antarctica with 14C fromtree rings [Steinhilber et al., 2012]. This record confirms earlier results, namely, that the Sun has varied with distinct periodicities in the past. We present a prediction of mean solar magnetic activity averaged over 22 years for the next 500 years mainly based on the spectral information derived from the solar activity record of the past. Assuming that the Sun will continue to vary with the same periodicities for the next centuries, we extract the spectral information from the past and apply it to two different methods to predict the future of solar magnetic activity.


This is a major new paper published in the March issue of prestigious journal ‘Solar Physics’ by solar-planetary theorists Ken McCracken, Jurg Beer and Friedhelm Steinhilber, which makes a newer and more extensive analysis of planetary motion in relation to the Carbon 14 and Beryllium 10 Glactic cosmic ray proxies than the 2400 yr Hallstat cycle study we looked at yesterday. The paper has been in the works a long time (submitted in July 2012), achieving final acceptance in late February this year. I can’t make the whole paper available due to copyright restrictions, but the abstract gives a clue as to the content. I’ve added one of the figures up to help convey some of the more important results. I’ve also appended the bibliography, as this isn’t part of the paper’s main text, it’s great to see Geoff Sharp and Ian Wilson getting citations. We can discuss other parts of their paper in comments. Boy is Martin Rasmussen going to look stupid in the future, by axing PRP for publishing our solar-planetary special edition.



The press release from BICEP making claims regarding detection of gravitational waves which inform us about the origin of the cosmos has been doing the rounds of the world’s media organisations.  Hans Jelbring comments:

Big Bang – The greatest fairy tale ever told
Hans Jelbring – 18-3-2014

big-bang-theoryThere is freedom of choosing religion in our country so there is no problem what you or I believe. On the other hand there is a problem when scientists mix facts supported by evidence and laws of nature with fantasy, unfounded hypotheses and faith.

There is no qualitative difference being a creationist believing that earth and our galaxy was created 6000 years ago or believing that the universe was created from a small cosmic egg 14 billion years ago. From where did this egg originate and what existed before that? There must have been something more (or rather, less) than a nuclear bomb within it since at that point not even matter are believed to has existed. None of these beliefs are or can be supported by scientific methods or verified experience. Hence, it cannot be classified as science.


A new paper in press at Elsevier finds air pressure changes linked to Forbush Decreases in the extra-tropics. These can affect the regime of blocking highs and the landfall of cyclonic weather systems. The paper marks a further step forward in understanding solar-terrestrial relations.

Atmospheric pressure variations at extratropical latitudes associated with Forbush decreases of galactic cosmic rays
I. Artamonovaa,a  S. Veretenenkoa,b
a St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg 198504, Russia
b Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute, St. Petersburg 194021, Russia


Changes of troposphere pressure associated with short-time variations of galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) taking place in the Northern hemisphere’s cold months (October–March) were analyzed for the period 1980–2006, NCEP/NCAR reanalysis data being used. Notice- able pressure variations during Forbush decreases of GCRs were revealed at extratropical latitudes of both hemispheres. The maxima of pressure increase were observed on the 3rd–4th days after the event onsets over Northern Europe and the European part of Russia in the Northern hemisphere, as well as on the 4th–5th days over the eastern part of the South Atlantic opposite Queen Maud Land and over the d’Urville Sea in the Southern Ocean. According to the weather chart analysis, the observed pressure growth, as a rule, results from the weakening of cyclones and intensification of anticyclone development in these areas. The presented results suggest that cosmic ray vari- ations may influence the evolution of extratropical baric systems and play an important role in solar-terrestrial relationships.


H/T to ‘Catweazle’ for mentioning this report: nasa-sun-earth – on solar-terrestrial relations. A web summary is available here:

sun-sdoTaster from the text:

In the galactic scheme of things, the Sun is a remarkably constant star. While some stars exhibit dramatic pulsations, wildly yo-yoing in size and brightness, and sometimes even exploding, the luminosity of our own sun varies a measly 0.1% over the course of the 11-year solar cycle.

There is, however, a dawning realization among researchers that even these apparently tiny variations can have a significant effect on terrestrial climate. A new report issued by the National Research Council (NRC), “The Effects of Solar Variability on Earth’s Climate,” lays out some of the surprisingly complex ways that solar activity can make itself felt on our planet.


This solar reconstruction uses a combination of 14C and “archeomagnetic field models” (Licht) to show strong solar activity modality.


Fig 3 from paper

Evidence for distinct modes of solar activity
I. G. Usoskin, G. Hulot, Y. Gallet, R. Roth, A. Licht, F. Joos, G. A. Kovaltsov, E. Thébault and A. Khokhlov
A&A 562 L10 (2014)