CERN Research on Cosmic Rays and GW

Discussion in 'The Thunderdome' started by volinbham, Aug 29, 2011.

  1. volinbham

    volinbham Contributor

  2. volinbham

    volinbham Contributor

  3. volinbham

    volinbham Contributor

  4. volinbham

    volinbham Contributor

    And finally... http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100102296/sun-causes-climate-change-shock/

    Sucks that this is so politically charged. For example:

     
  5. TennTradition

    TennTradition Super Moderator

    My first take on it is that I see the way it is being presented as being rather silly. We didn't need this study to tell us that the sun is the major controller of climate.

    But, if I try to get beyond that and think of how it should be presented, the findings could be interesting. The key point is what is behind the warming we have seen over the last 30+ years. It isn't the intensity of the sun, because that has cycled several times in that period with anonymously high temperatures appearing more and more in recent years. But, could it be cosmic rays. What I take from the article you posted (I haven't read the CERN study yet) is that if the sun's magnetic field were to be in a strong period, this would decrease the number of cosmic rays reaching the earth. The CERN study apparently concludes that the effect of decreased cosmic rays would be warming due to decreased cloud formation.

    What I haven't seen are correlations between the sun's magnetic field (or cosmic ray impingement) and global temperatures. Maybe IP has seen that and could provide some insight.

    The *real* question in all of this is climate sensitivity to CO2. We know it is a greenhouse gas. We know that greenhouse gases cause warming. What is more difficult is determining how much warming. We have used experimental data and modeling to try to estimate this. However, if we missed other contributing factors to warming (such as a decrease in cosmic rays, perhaps), then we could over-estimate the climate sensitivity to CO2. The result of this would be predictions of more warming than will be observed at a given level of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, which would clearly impact emissions targets, etc.

    So, to me at this point, the most interesting thing to me will be the correlation between rays and climate. All along, one of the most difficult aspects of climate modeling has been cloud formation and there effects on temperature (though most of the focus in the past had been on clouds as a negative feedback caused by warming, not as s separate driver when caused by cosmic rays, for example).
     
  6. volinbham

    volinbham Contributor

    I guess this is where I'm coming from. I've always been least comfortable with the predictions of both temperature growth and associated disastrous ecological, biological, etc. follow-on predictions that are driving the debate. From the smattering of articles I perused the "significance" of this research goes from virtually meaningless to absolutely conclusive. It's pretty clear that the interpretation is largely based in the prior position on AGW.
     
  7. IP

    IP Grusader Knight Errant of the 8th Order

    The results of this experiment are far less conclusive than how some of the articles/commentators are presenting it. Cosmic rays were found to "seed" particles in the upper atmosphere, but it is not clear as to whether those "seeds" were large enough to produce clouds.

    That much is fact. To speculate more broadly, I am sure that ultimately it will be found that cosmic rays do in fact play a role in climate. The term "sun denier" and the like is very disingenuous, as it has always always always been recognized that the sun is the ultimate driver of climate on Earth: i.e. the unequal heating of the Earth and it's atmosphere creates weather and climate. It's pure political theater to pretend even the Al Gores of the world claim otherwise.

    Finding more links between solar activity and climate doesn't intrinsically weaken the case for anthropogenic warming. It's quickly pointed out by any climate change skeptic that the models are not 100 % accurate, and that apparent gaps in understanding exist. This is one of them. Could this sort of new knowledge branch completely wipe out everything we thought we knew about climate feedbacks, including greenhouse gases? No, most certainly not. Because at the end of the day, we're talking about oscillations in natural occurring (and the most abundant) greenhouse gas-- water vapor. In that sense, the difference in what is driving the recent warming of temperatures (which as you can see isn't being debated in any of these articles, comments therein, or by the study-- funny how that happens when it is convenient) is relatively small: fluctuation in greenhouse gases due to solar activity, vs anthropogenic sources. Seems to me there is plenty of room for both to be a factor. And I'd also like to point out that there have been studies on solar activities and solar cycles and climate for decades, which have usually found a relationship but not one that explains the current trend.

    Succinctly, this is yet another attempt by some to act like "the game has changed" when it clearly really hasn't. Note that I am not discrediting the study at all. Only how it is being represented in some of those links.

    It's akin to arguing that the discovery of alveoli sacs prove that lungs are the only thing that matters in normal respiration and getting the body oxygen, rather than the efficiency and proper abundance of red blood cells. It's all one system, and what we know about it already isn't discarded simply because we learn more.
     
  8. volinbham

    volinbham Contributor

    The main things that get my interest are:

    1. how this impacts the "severity" (for lack of a better word) of the CO2 effect.
    2. the politics of issue potentially derailing research that would challenge #1 above.

    I don't doubt the role of CO2. I am skeptical at how this information has been used to push for any number or wide ranging agendas that may do exactly diddly squat to impact the situation. Given that, I can see why research such as this that could question the trajectory of the impact of CO2 will be harshly received and discredited.
     
  9. IP

    IP Grusader Knight Errant of the 8th Order

    I am not unique in saying that I

    1) do not believe the worst-case Al Goresque projections

    and

    2) do not believe we can undo what has been done, but rather just mitigate what would likely continue if we keep on our present course.

    Cosmic rays don't magically make CO2 no longer a greenhouse gas, nor does it change the fact that we as a species have greatly altered the carbon cycle. Should we plunge the world into a deep economic recession by banning all fossil fuels? No, that will make pollution much worse-- see India. People are going to live, and that means they are going to find and use fuel of any kind. There's a common sense middle ground that is completely lost on the demagogues.
     

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