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There is No Sun-Link with Global Warming

3 Apr , 2008 by

The connection between solar activity and global warming has been a contentious issue for a long time. The idea that cosmic rays create global cloud cover just doesn’t seem to be working out; even the highest estimates of cloud cover variation caused by cosmic ray flux predict the effect to be very small. Now UK scientists have stepped into the debate, producing scientific evidence that there is no link between global warming, cosmic rays and solar activity. Sorry global warming sceptics, we might have to cut back on the emissions after all…

The connection between solar activity and global warming is thought to go like this: The Sun experiences massive changes in energy output throughout the 11-year solar cycle. At its peak (at solar maximum), the Sun’s influence over local space is at its highest. Its massive magnetic field will envelop the Earth and spiral into interplanetary space. As it does so, the immense and large-scale solar wind will deflect high energy cosmic rays. So, counter-intuitively, when the Sun is at its most active, cosmic ray collisions with the atmosphere is at its lowest. It is has been predicted by scientists such as Henrik Svensmark at the Danish National Space Center (DNSC) that these high energy cosmic rays will impact the Earth’s atmosphere, create droplets of water, thus generating cloud cover. So, following this logically, we should have a global decrease in cloud cover during periods of high solar activity (when cosmic rays are not deflected by the solar wind), causing global warming (as there will be less clouds to reflect the solar radiation). Many of the climate problems we are having at the moment can then be attributed to the Sun and not human activity.

But there’s a problem. As previously reported by the Universe Today, research groups will often publish conflicting results about the cosmic ray effect on cloud production. In one of the most definitive results to come out of this area of study has just been announced by UK scientists, and guess what? The Sun/cosmic-ray theory has no measurable effect on the climate change we are currently experiencing.

Dr. Svensmark’s idea was central to the science behind the documentary “The Great Global Warming Swindle” where the human impact on global climate change was brought into question. This theory has been under fire since its conception by highly regarded scientists such as Mike Lockwood from the UK’s Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory. Svensmark stands by his work. So with this in mind, Dr. Terry Sloan from Lancaster University set out to prove Svensmark’s hypothesis. But the results aren’t pretty.

We tried to corroborate Svensmark’s hypothesis, but we could not […] So we had better carry on trying to cut carbon emissions.” – Dr. Terry Sloan

In a separate study, Giles Harrison from Reading University, also studied the effect of cosmic ray flux on the amount of cloud cover, stating it is an important area of research, “…as it provides an upper limit on the cosmic ray-cloud effect in global satellite cloud data“. Although restricted to the atmosphere above the UK, Harrison’s study also returns the verdict that there is only a very weak cosmic ray effect on cloud production.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report last year pointing the finger at human activity as the root cause behind global warming. There are very strong correlations between carbon emissions and global warming since the 1970s, so the IPCC has strongly recommended that the international community make radical cuts to their carbon emissions. What’s more the IPCC point out that the contribution from greenhouse gas emissions outweighs the effect of solar variability by a factor of 13 to one.

“…as far as we can see, he has no reason to challenge the IPCC – the IPCC has got it right.” – Dr. Terry Sloan

Source: BBC


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maltesk
Member
April 3, 2008 10:25 AM

Looks like the paper in question is this one: Sloan & Wolfendale, Testing the proposed link between cosmic rays and cloud cover, http://arxiv.org/abs/0803.2298.

Moonage
Guest
Moonage
April 3, 2008 8:08 AM
Ditto what David said. I also am not a sceptic either. The environment is changing. I have pondered the sun’s affect on climate as well. It seems to me that if the sun were to suddenly stop shining, it would affect our climate. If the sun were to suddenly nova, it would also affect our climate. So, to carte blanche dismiss the sun as having any impact on our climate because one single theory hasn’t been figured out is exactly where the sceptics get their skepticism. I personally have never narrowed my mind down to the logic that one single issue controls our climate. We stop burning fossile fuels and the climate suddenly stabilizes, never to change again?… Read more »
RL
Member
RL
April 3, 2008 7:41 AM

I’ve read/heard theories that warming and at times cooling can be affect by changes in the earths wobble, not necessarily sun output. Have there been any studies on this theoretical link?

David R.
Member
David R.
April 3, 2008 7:49 AM
“Sorry global warming sceptics, we might have to cut back on the emissions after all…” I am not a global warming sceptic. I simply do not understand the resistance to looking at all the science to understand the relationship between carbon and warming. There is, no doubt, a strong link between human activity (I will say carbon since Ian seems so fixated on that word)…but what I don’t understand is the resistance to understanding the relationship between all the variables that may be interacting to produce a warming effect. The geologic record is all but ignored in our pop-fixation on “we can solve global warming by stopping carbon.” For the record, I am overjoyed that somone actually took… Read more »
David R.
Member
David R.
April 3, 2008 7:58 AM

Here is one article that I found that will at least provide some preliminary insight into what I meant by the geologic record.

http://www.esd.ornl.gov/projects/qen/transit.html

There is lots of good, researchable science worth considering even from a surface reading of an article like this one.

Andy C
Guest
Andy C
April 3, 2008 8:16 AM
@David, > How about applying the same rigor to other > hypotheses that are being ignored in the name of > carbon? It isn’t fair to say that other factors are being ignored, and the suggestion that the geologic record has been ignored is ludicrous. It has been looked at extensively, and causes of past warming have been ruled out. People are just fed up with deniers coming up with whatever tenuous/non-existent idea they can to say “Look! Not us!”. Human carbon emissions are the major cause behind the recent warming, and that broad picture isn’t going to change, though details will be refined (for example, recent studies indicate that the impact of soot may have been underestimated… Read more »
will day
Guest
April 3, 2008 4:30 PM

i know this might be a rather fine detail to bring into this discussion, but with all the data i’ve read lately, like going back about 10 years, i feel that we may be ignoring the most important question- WHAT WARMING?-
how long must it NOT BE WARMING before you give this foolishness up?
if WASTE is the new unpardonable sin- when does fighting something that is not happening with a massive commitment of supposedly precious resources become unpardonable?
hmmm….

Rusty
Guest
Rusty
April 3, 2008 10:19 AM

I am a GW skeptic for one reason. The wholesale dismissal of skeptics by the GW crowd. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. If scientist skeptics have to sneak around in the dark of night to keep from being exposed as heretics, something is very wrong.

There has never been an honest, open debate since the introduction of Al Gore’s ridiculous, inaccurate propaganda film. Please, I beg all of you, before we collect a trillion dollars that disappears down a bureaucratic rat-hole based on computer models based on theory, can we have an honest debate?

Jim Baerg
Guest
Jim Baerg
April 3, 2008 10:45 AM

In a way I’m inclined to say ‘so what’. If the effect of CO2 on the climate has been overestimated enormously, it would still be a good idea to eg: replace all the coal with nuclear for electricity generation.
That would cut emissions of heavy metals SO2 etc. & save a cheap source of carbon for making liquid fuels for running mobile machinery like cars & farm tractors. A use of fossil fuels for which we don’t yet have a good substitute.

Laszlo
Guest
Laszlo
April 3, 2008 11:10 AM
You may have included an extra ‘not’ in parenthesis, as he solar wind would actually deflect more cosmic rad. I like this (old) theory as I believe the sun, moon, planetary alignment, interplanetary flux, etc DO impact climate in some way. I admit that gravitational incongrueties of too many planets aligning themselves juxtapositely one side or another (from sun) may not amount to a graviton bean, but hey, neither does the bias/gate of a transistor, yet amplification does occur. I still like Milankovich’s cycles & need to learn more @ sun; what’s this about a millisecond of power from slow solar flare trumps annual global power production? The ice ages convened w 100,000 yr regularity over past couple… Read more »
Tammy Plotner
Member
April 3, 2008 11:50 AM

Outstanding article, Ian!

Joe Shobe
Guest
Joe Shobe
April 3, 2008 11:59 AM

Certainly, reducing carbon emmissions is good, if for nothing else, clean fresh air to breath. But if carbon emmissions are the only thing changing our climate, what on earth were we buring 35,000 years ago to reverse the last ice age, or any of the past ice ages for that matter. Sure will be curious when the melting of Greenland brings about our next ice age. Ahh, anyone got some spare fuel I can burn?

Clint
Guest
Clint
April 3, 2008 12:56 PM

I agree with Rusty and Jim. But it is confusing when you hear of reports like the UN had last week, where they said after studying massive amount of data from thousands of sources, that the average global temp has actually decreased over the last 10 years. They were amazed at the findings of their scientist (who were just as amazed and almost didn’t release their report).
If I can find the report online, I’ll comment again with a link to it. I originally heard it on the news.

Dan
Guest
Dan
April 3, 2008 1:06 PM

The discussion about global warming is so politically motivated now that it is hard for me to believe who is telling the truth on any of this.

They say we should use bio-fuel and legislate its use, but then it turns out this causes more carbon to be release… – so is it just a subsidy for corn farmers?

They say we should use those energy efficient light bulbs, but then it turns out there is mercury in them… – so is it just a subsidy for GE?

Although I believe Ian’s intentions are pure, there is too much money in this whole global warming thing for any reasonable person not to have some suspicions.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia
April 3, 2008 1:08 PM
I thought another theory related to cosmic rays was related to our movement above and below the plane of the galaxy such that our exposure to these rays would change over large time scales. I’m not sure what the period of that oscillation might be. I assume it would be measured in at least hundreds of thousands of years, if not millions. With regards to short term oscillations I suspect that there are several different factors with different periods ands magnitudes that sum together to cause large dips and peaks at various times and that these dwarf CO2 related effects. I’m still waiting for more data and theories before I commit to either side. Besides, if CO2 is… Read more »
Triskelion
Guest
Triskelion
April 3, 2008 2:01 PM

Miss using an absoulte such as ‘NO’ link, already shows how wrong they are an how sensationalistic they are trying to be.

cheers.
t

Alex
Guest
Alex
April 3, 2008 2:41 PM
4gea
Guest
4gea
April 3, 2008 3:15 PM

Cosmic rays aside, the statement that solar activity has no connection to climate change on a planet is a very bold and, well…a strange one. A star doesn’t influence a planet’s climate? Since when?

As for Andy C’s “…and the suggestion that the geologic record has been ignored is ludicrous. It has been looked at extensively, and causes of past warming have been ruled out….” – sorry, but if the geological record of climate change HAS really been looked at extensively and taken into consideration seriously, we wouldn’t be talking about human-induced global warming.

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