Today's update: Cosmic Ray flux has hit an all time high for the space age! That should mean more clouds, increased albedo and a cooling earth--sorry AGW folk.
Cosmic Rays Hit Space Age High 09.29.2009
September 29, 2009: Planning a trip to Mars? Take plenty of shielding. According to sensors on NASA's ACE (Advanced Composition Explorer) spacecraft, galactic cosmic rays have just hit a Space Age high.
"In 2009, cosmic ray intensities have increased 19% beyond anything we've seen in the past 50 years," says Richard Mewaldt of Caltech. "The increase is significant, and it could mean we need to re-think how much radiation shielding astronauts take with them on deep-space missions."
Above: Energetic iron nuclei counted by the Cosmic Ray Isotope Spectrometer on NASA's ACE spacecraft reveal that cosmic ray levels have jumped 19% above the previous Space Age high.
The cause of the surge is solar minimum, a deep lull in solar activity that began around 2007 and continues today. Researchers have long known that cosmic rays go up when solar activity goes down. Right now solar activity is as weak as it has been in modern times, setting the stage for what Mewaldt calls "a perfect storm of cosmic rays."
One can look at the following picture to see that as the solar magnetic field has dropped, the cosmic ray intensity has risen strongly.
A theory that is gaining experimental support among some climatologists and solar scientists links the rise of cosmic ray flux to an increase in clouds
“Growing evidence, such as the correlations
between paleoclimate records and
solar and cosmic ray activity indicators
(e.g., 10Be, 14C), suggests that extraterrestrial
phenomena are responsible for at
least some climatic variability on time
scales ranging from days to millennia
(Friis-Christensen and Lassen, 1991;
Tinsley and Deen, 1991; Soon et al., 1996;
Svensmark, 1998; Beer et al., 2000;
Egorova et al., 2000; Soon et al., 2000;
Björck et al., 2001; Bond et al., 2001;
Hodell et al., 2001; Kromer et al., 2001;
Labitzke and Weber, 2001; Neff et al.,
2001; Todd and Kniveton, 2001; Pang and
Yau, 2002; Solanki, 2002). These correlations
mostly surpass those, if any, for the
coeval climate and CO2. Empirical observations
indicate that the climate link could
be via solar wind modulation of the
galactic cosmic ray flux (CRF) (Tinsley
and Deen, 1991; Svensmark, 1998; Marsh
and Svensmark, 2000; Todd and
Kniveton, 2001; Shaviv, 2002a, 2002b)
because an increase in solar activity results
not only in enhanced thermal energy
flux, but also in more intense solar wind
that attenuates the CRF reaching Earth.
The CRF, in turn, correlates convincingly
with the low-altitude cloud cover on time
scales from days (Forbush phenomenon)
to decades (sun spot cycle). The postulated
causation sequence is therefore:
brighter sun => enhanced thermal flux +
solar wind => muted CRF => less lowlevel
clouds => less albedo => warmer
climate. Diminished solar activity results
in an opposite effect. The apparent departure
from this pattern in the 1990s
(Solanki, 2002) may prove to be a satellite
calibration problem (Marsh and
Svensmark, 2003).” Nir J. Shaviv and Jan Veizer, “Celectial Driver of Phanerozoic Climate?” GSA Today, July 2003, p. 5
"Not until six years later would they be able to test the proposed mechanism in a lab. In 2006, Svensmark assembled a team at the Danish National Space Center to undertake an elaborate experiment in a reaction chamber the size of a small room. Dubbed SKY (Danish for "cloud"), the experiment mimicked salient features of the chemistry of the lower atmosphere, adding ultraviolet rays to mimic the actions of the Sun. Naturally occurring cosmic rays were filtered in through the ceiling."
"What they found left them agape: a vast number of floating microscopic droplets soon filled the reaction chamber. These were ultra-small clusters of sulfuric acid and water molecules-the building blocks for cloud condensation nuclei-that had been catalyzed by the electrons released by cosmic rays. They had expected some effect. The surprise was that the electrons acted as catalysts-each causing not one but several reactions before being lost to the environment. This strengthened their notion that a relatively small change in cosmic radiation could have a significant effect on climate."Lawrence Solomon, The Deniers," (Richard Vigilante Books, 2008), p.155-156
"Close passages of coronal mass ejections from the sun are signaled at the Earth's surface by Forbush decreases in cosmic ray counts. We find that low clouds contain less liquid water following Forbush decreases, and for the most influential events the liquid water in the oceanic atmosphere can diminish by as much as 7%. Cloud water content as gauged by the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I) reaches a minimum ≈7 days after the Forbush minimum in cosmic rays, and so does the fraction of low clouds seen by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and in the International Satellite Cloud Climate Project (ISCCP). Parallel observations by the aerosol robotic network AERONET reveal falls in the relative abundance of fine aerosol particles which, in normal circumstances, could have evolved into cloud condensation nuclei. Thus a link between the sun, cosmic rays, aerosols, and liquid-water clouds appears to exist on a global scale." Henrik Svensmark, Torsten Bondo, Jacob Svensmark, "Cosmic Ray Decreases Affect Atmospheric Aerosols and Clouds," GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 36, L15101, 4 PP., 2009
An understandable explanation of this can be found at Henrik Svensmark, Torsten Bondo, Jacob Svensmark, "Cosmic Ray Decreases Affect Atmospheric Aerosols and Clouds," Draft source
"Explosive events on the sun provide natural experiments for testing hypotheses about solar influences on the Earth. A conspicuous effect is the sudden reduction, over hours to days, in the influx of galactic cosmic rays (GCRs), first noticed by Scott E. Forbush in 1937. Such Forbush decreases (FDs) are now understood to be the result of magnetic plasma clouds from solar coronal mass ejections that pass near the Earth and provide a temporary shield against GCRs [Hilary, 2000]."
Cosmic Rays allow ionization nuclei to form which causes clouds. When the sun has few sunspots we have more cosmic ray influx. Anyone doubting that can go look at the Be10 proxy for sunspot numbers.
"An increase in solar activity (more sunspots) is accompanied by an increase in the "solar wind," which is an outflow of ionized particles, mostly protons and electrons, from the sun. The Earth's geomagnetic field, the solar wind, and the solar magnetic field deflect galactic cosmic rays (GCR). A decrease in solar activity increases the GCR penetration of the troposphere and stratosphere. GCR particles are the primary source of ionization in the troposphere above 1 km (below 1 km, radon is a dominant source of ionization in many areas)."
"Levels of GCRs have been indirectly recorded by their influence on the production of carbon-14 and beryllium-10. The Hallstatt solar cycle length of approximately 2300 years is reflected by climatic Dansgaard-Oeschger events. The 80–90 year solar Gleissberg cycles appear to vary in length depending upon the lengths of the concurrent 11 year solar cycles, and there also appear to be similar climate patterns occurring on this time scale." source
But of course, the AGW folk will continue to claim that the sun plays almost no role in our climate.
And compare the information and picture above with the picture of the albedo which began to strongly rise in 2000 along with the cosmic ray intensity.