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CERN’s 8,000 scientists may not be able to find the hypothetical Higgs boson, but they have made an important contribution to climate physics, prompting climate models to be revised.
The first results from the lab’s CLOUD ("Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets") experiment published in Nature today confirm that cosmic rays spur the formation of clouds through ion-induced nucleation. Current thinking posits that half of the Earth’s clouds are formed through nucleation. The paper is entitled Role of sulphuric acid, ammonia and galactic cosmic rays in atmospheric aerosol nucleation.
This has significant implications for climate science because water vapour and clouds play a large role in determining global temperatures. Tiny changes in overall cloud cover can result in relatively large temperature changes.
Unsurprisingly, it’s a politically sensitive topic, as it provides support for a "heliocentric" rather than "anthropogenic" approach to climate change: the sun plays a large role in modulating the quantity of cosmic rays reaching the upper atmosphere of the Earth.
CERN’s director-general Rolf-Dieter Heuer warned his scientists "to present the results clearly but not interpret them". Readers can judge whether CLOUD’s lead physicist Jasper Kirkby has followed his boss’s warning.
"Ion-induced nucleation will manifest itself as a steady production of new particles that is difficult to isolate in atmospheric observations because of other sources of variability but is nevertheless taking place and could be quite large when averaged globally over the troposphere."
Kirkby is quoted in the accompanying CERN press release:
"We’ve found that cosmic rays significantly enhance the formation of aerosol particles in the mid troposphere and above. These aerosols can eventually grow into the seeds for clouds. However, we’ve found that the vapours previously thought to account for all aerosol formation in the lower atmosphere can only account for a small fraction of the observations – even with the enhancement of cosmic rays."
The team used the Proton Synchotron accelerator (pictured here with Kirkby) to examine the nucleation using combinations of trace gasses at various temperatures, with precision. These first results confirm that cosmic rays increase the formation of cloud-nuclei by a factor of 10 in the troposphere, but additional trace gasses are needed nearer the surface.
Climate models will have to be revised, confirms CERN in supporting literature (pdf):
"[I]t is clear that the treatment of aerosol formation in climate models will need to be substantially revised, since all models assume that nucleation is caused by these vapours [sulphuric acid and ammonia] and water alone.
The work involves over 60 scientists in 17 countries.
Veteran science editor Nigel Calder, who brought the theory to wide public attention with the book The Chilling Stars, co-authored with the father of the theory Henrik Svensmark, has an explanation and background on his blog, here, and offers possible reasons on why the research, mooted in the late 1990s, has taken so long.
Svensmark, who is no longer involved with the CERN experiment, says he believes the solar-cosmic ray factor is just one of four factors in climate. The other three are: volcanoes, a "regime shift" that took place in 1977, and residual anthropogenic components.
When Dr Kirkby first described the theory in 1998, he suggested 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."
German Schoolchildren will Cook and Clean for â€śRefugeesâ€ť as Part of Work Experience 2015-10-13 0:44
Schoolchildren from an undisclosed school in the city of LĂĽbeck, Schleswig-Holstein, will spend a week doing housework for so-called â€śrefugeesâ€ť.
The idea was sold to parents at a parentsâ€™ meeting as a â€śpractical internshipâ€ś, but has sparked outrage online.
A letter to the parents said their children will be going to â€śrefugeeâ€ť accommodations and will be making beds, sorting clothes, and ...
MTV: Saying "No Can Do" Or "Long Time No See" Is Racist 2015-10-12 23:04 Harmless terms have offensive origins, asserts Franchesca Ramsey
According to MTV News, using the phrases “long time no see,” “peanut gallery” and “no can do” is offensive because the terms have “racist beginnings.”
Host Franchesca Ramsey begins by claiming that the term “peanut gallery” is offensive because it was once the place where black people were “forced” to sit at the theater ...
Migrants Dump Garbage from Their Balconies at German Asylum Center 2015-10-12 23:35
German authorities expect up to 1.5 million asylum seekers to arrive in Germany this year – up from 750,000 last month.
So they can expect more of this–
Migrants Dump Garbage from their Balconies : Augsburg Asylum Center, Germany
In a recent poll, the number of “frightened” Germans jumped from 38% to 51% in three weeks.
Muslim Statistics reported, via Religion of Peace:
The latest ...
US Paradrops 50 Tons Of Ammo To Syrian Rebels 2015-10-12 22:32
As we noted over the weekend, the US has now thrown in the towel on the ill-fated (and that’s putting it lightly) strategy of training Syrian fighters and sending them into battle only to be captured and killed by other Syrian fighters who the US also trained.
The Pentagon’s effort to recruit 5,400 properly “vetted” anti-ISIS rebels by the end of ...
Migrant Crisis stand-up routine - Sam Hyde 2015-10-10 18:07
YouTube description: "Migrant" "Crisis" AKA Muslim Road Trip. Hundreds of thousands of astronauts, doctors, sciencemen, and peaceful clock inventors descend upon the countries with the most collective guilt and free stuff.
This was pretty good man... I wasn't expecting this reaction from the same Boston college audience who so thoroughly disapproved of my 'Mike Brown' routine. I think the invasion of ...