Our quiet sun: long-term cooling on the way?

May 3, 2015

science agw sun

No, I’m not predicting from computer models where the results are largely predetermined by the inputs and assumptions of the programmers (1). I’m just noting a possibility based on simple observation of centuries of data. When Sol grows quiet for extended periods, the Earth grows colder:

The sun is almost completely blank. The main driver of all weather and climate, the entity which occupies 99.86% of all of the mass in our solar system, the great ball of fire in the sky has gone quiet again during what is likely to be the weakest sunspot cycle in more than a century. The sun’s X-ray output has flatlined in recent days and NOAA forecasters estimate a scant 1% chance of strong flares in the next 24 hours. Not since cycle 14 peaked in February 1906 has there been a solar cycle with fewer sunspots. We are currently more than six years into Solar Cycle 24 and the current nearly blank sun may signal the end of the solar maximum phase. Solar cycle 24 began after an unusually deep solar minimum that lasted from 2007 to 2009 which included more spotless days on the sun compared to any minimum in almost a century.

The article notes that declining solar activity doesn’t mean no solar storms that can disrupt communications — some very strong ones happen on the down-slope, so to speak. But, what we’re concerned with here is the possible effect on Earth’s climate. As you know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, I’m of the school that holds the Sun far more responsible for Earth’s changing climate than any amount of carbon dioxide we’ve pumped into the atmosphere in the last century of so. And I believe the evidence supports that much more than it does the catastrophic man-caused climate change theology theory. From later in the article, here’s what happened the last time the Sun had a quiescent period of this magnitude or larger:

Finally, if history is a guide, it is safe to say that weak solar activity for a prolonged period of time can have a cooling impact on global temperatures in the troposphere which is the bottom-most layer of Earth’s atmosphere – and where we all live. There have been two notable historical periods with decades-long episodes of low solar activity. The first period is known as the “Maunder Minimum”, named after the solar astronomer Edward Maunder, and it lasted from around 1645 to 1715. The second one is referred to as the “Dalton Minimum”, named for the English meteorologist John Dalton, and it lasted from about 1790 to 1830 (below). Both of these historical periods coincided with colder-than-normal global temperatures in an era now referred to by many scientists as the “Little Ice Age”. In addition, research studies in just the past couple of decades have found a complicated relationship between solar activity, cosmic rays, and clouds on Earth. This research suggests that in times of low solar activity where solar winds are typically weak; more cosmic rays reach the Earth’s atmosphere which, in turn, has been found to lead to an increase in certain types of clouds that can act to cool the Earth.

The highlighted portion refers to the work of Henrik Svensmark and others to study the relation between solar activity, cosmic rays,  and cloud formation on Earth, the last of which is a regulator of temperature  Early experimental results have lent credibility to this hypothesis, and I think we’ll eventually find that such natural cycles are the real reason for climate change on Earth, and not a trace gas that’s been raised to the level of an all-powerful demon.

Footnote:
(1) That’s the UN IPCC’s job.


Another bad day for the Church of Global Warming

August 28, 2011

Don’t you just hate it when empirical results get in the way of a cherished article of faith theory? Not only have none of the predictions of doom made by global warming alarmists come to pass, but now experimental results are lending strength to an alternate theory of global warming and cooling:

It sounds like a conspiracy theory: ‘cosmic rays’ from deep space might be creating clouds in Earth’s atmosphere and changing the climate. Yet an experiment at CERN, Europe’s high-energy physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, is finding tentative evidence for just that.

The findings, published today in Nature, are preliminary, but they are stoking a long-running argument over the role of radiation from distant stars in altering the climate.

(…)

To find out, Kirkby and his team are bringing the atmosphere down to Earth in an experiment called Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets (CLOUD). The team fills a custom-built chamber with ultrapure air and chemicals believed to seed clouds: water vapour, sulphur dioxide, ozone and ammonia. They then bombard the chamber with protons from the same accelerator that feeds the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s most powerful particle smasher. As the synthetic cosmic rays stream in, the group carefully samples the artificial atmosphere to see what effect the rays are having.

Early results seem to indicate that cosmic rays do cause a change. The high-energy protons seemed to enhance the production of nanometre-sized particles from the gaseous atmosphere by more than a factor of ten.

To be fair, physicist Kirkby then points out that the generated particles are too small for clouds to form around, though he concedes that this experiment is an “important first step” in understanding how cosmic rays might be involved in the creation of clouds.

The significance of this experiment is that it seems to bear directly on the debate over whether CO2 or solar activity is most responsible for global warming and cooling, and thus climate change.

In short, it’s been known for over a century that radiation from outer space, “cosmic rays,” bombard the Earth, and that these rays are affected by the “wind” put out by the sun when it is active, the visible sign of which is an increase in sunspots. When the solar wind is strong, fewer cosmic rays reach the Earth. When it is weak, the number of rays hitting us increases.

Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark theorized that cosmic rays play a role in the formation of clouds, which in turn act as regulators of the Earth’s heat: more clouds means a cooler world, fewer lead to warming. Thus, the theory goes, periods of weak solar activity lead to more cosmic rays, which creates more clouds and a cooling planet. And, of course, the reverse would be true of periods of strong solar activity. Svensmark and others claimed that this would explain the apparent correlation between a warming and cooling Earth and the sunspot cycle. (See, for example, the Little Ice Age and the Maunder Minimum).

While writers such as Warren Meyer at Forbes (and Climate Skeptic) rightfully caution us:

But let’s be careful.  We are basically now in the exact same place with Svensmark that we are with CO2 greenhouse warming.  We know the relevant effects exist in a lab, and are fairly certain they exist in nature, but we are uncertain how sensitive the actual climate is to these effects.  We skeptics criticize alarmists for exaggerating feedbacks and real-world sensitivities to CO2.  We should avoid the same mistake.

…I find Svensmark’s thesis much more plausible, as it does something alarmist theories have not: account for the past. Advocates of man-caused global warming either deny (or hide) or hand-wave away the various warming and cooling periods in the past, unable to plausibly explain how those occurred without the presence of CO2 dumped into the atmosphere by Man.

The cosmic-ray theory, on the other hand, seems to correlate nicely not only with the past, but with the observed present in which there has been both a decline in solar activity and no statistically significant warming since 1995.

At the very least, this suggests that the science, no matter what Al Gore says, is far from settled and that we should avoid implementing sweeping policies until we know much, much more.

By which time, I suspect, we’ll recognize them for the poisonous cures to a problem that does not exist that they are and can toss them onto the intellectual trash heap with the “flat earth” theories and Piltdown Man.

via Watt’s Up With That

LINKS: Calder’s Updates has more details. So does The Global Warming Policy Foundation. Follow-up reactions from WUWT. The Telegraph’s James Delingpole goes to town on this development, reminding us that the scientific establishment never wanted this experiment to take place. There’s good scientific practice for you. Meanwhile, this and other recent developments casting doubt on anthropogenic global warming has been hard on the church’s High Priest, Al Gore. From an obscenity-filled tirade to suggesting we need to eat less meat to save the planet to equating skeptics with racists, he’s publicly losing it.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)