CERN Finds “Significant” Cosmic Ray Cloud Effect

Source:  The Climate Policy Network

Best known for its studies of the fundamental constituents of matter, the CERN particle-physics laboratory in Geneva is now also being used to study the climate. Researchers in the CLOUD collaboration have released the first results from their experiment designed to mimic conditions in the Earth’s atmosphere. By firing beams of particles from the lab’s Proton Synchrotron accelerator into a gas-filled chamber, they have discovered that cosmic rays could have a role to play in climate by enhancing the production of potentially cloud-seeding aerosols. –Physics World, 24 August 2011

If Henrik Svensmark is right, then we are going down the wrong path of taking all these expensive measures to cut carbon emissions; if he is right, we could carry on with carbon emissions as normal.–Terry Sloan, BBC News 3 April 2008

Henrik Svensmark welcomes the new results, claiming that they confirm research carried out by his own group, including a study published earlier this year showing how an electron beam enhanced production of clusters inside a cloud chamber. He acknowledges that the link between cosmic rays and cloud formation will not be proved until aerosols that are large enough to act as condensation surfaces are studied in the lab, but believes that his group has already found strong evidence for the link in the form of significant negative correlations between cloud cover and solar storms. Physics World, 24 August 2011

CERN’s CLOUD experiment is designed to study the formation of clouds and the idea that Cosmic Rays may have an influence. The take-home message from this research is that we just don’t understand clouds in anything other than hand-waving terms. We also understand the effects of aerosols even less. The other things to come out of it are that trace constituencies in the atmosphere seem to have a big effect on cloud formation, and that Cosmic rays also have an effect, a “significant” one according to CERN. –David Whitehouse, The Observatory, 25 August 2011

I have asked the CERN colleagues to present the results clearly, but not to interpret them. That would go immediately into the highly political arena of the climate change debate. One has to make clear that cosmic radiation is only one of many parameters. –Rolf-Dieter Heuer, Director General of CERN, Welt Online 15 July 2011

Although they never said so, the High Priests of the Inconvenient Truth – in such temples as NASA-GISS, Penn State and the University of East Anglia – always knew that Svensmark’s cosmic ray hypothesis was the principal threat to their sketchy and poorly modelled notions of self-amplifying action of greenhouse gases. In telling how the obviously large influences of the Sun in previous centuries and millennia could be explained, and in applying the same mechanism to the 20th warming, Svensmark put the alarmist predictions at risk – and with them the billions of dollars flowing from anxious governments into the global warming enterprise. –-Nigel Calder, 24 August 2011

Jasper Kirkby is a superb scientist, but he has been a lousy politician. In 1998, anticipating he’d be leading a path-breaking experiment into the sun’s role in global warming, he made the mistake of stating that the sun and cosmic rays “will probably be able to account for somewhere between a half and the whole of the increase in the Earth’s temperature that we have seen in the last century.” Global warming, he theorized, may be part of a natural cycle in the Earth’s temperature. Dr. Kirkby was immediately condemned by climate scientists for minimizing the role of human beings in global warming. Stories in the media disparaged Dr. Kirkby by citing scientists who feared oil-industry lobbyists would use his statements to discredit the greenhouse effect. And the funding approval for Dr. Kirkby’s path-breaking experiment — seemingly a sure thing when he first announced his proposal– was put on ice. –Lawrence Solomon, National Post, 23 Feb 2007

1) Probing the cosmic-ray–climate link

Physics World, 24 August 2011

2) David Whitehouse: CERN Finds “Significant” Cosmic Ray Cloud Effect – The Observatory, 25 August 2011

3) Nigel Calder: CERN Experiment Confirms Cosmic Rays Action – Calder’s Updates, 24 August 2011

4) Lawrence Solomon: Clouded Research – National Post, 23 Feb 2007

5) Andrew Montford: CLOUD Experiment Media Links – Bishop Hill, 24 August 2011

6) Background: Exploding Stars Influence Climate Of Earth – Space Daily, 6 October 2006

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