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In reference to the equation above - "To most of you, it is gobbly-gook, but to a physicist, it is part of a mathematical proof accompanying a particular study done on the sun's role in Global Warming. What the authors are explaining is they have found that the total solar irradiance (TSI) has been measured by orbiting satellites since 1978 and it varies on an 11-year cycle by about 0.07%. So, from solar min to solar max, the TSI reaching the earth’s surface increases at a rate comparable to the radiative heating due to a 1% per year increase in greenhouse gases, and will probably add, during the next five to six years in the advancing phase of Solar Cycle 24, almost 0.2 °K to the globally-averaged temperature, thus doubling the amount of transient global warming expected from greenhouse warming alone."
Nothing Pretty, Just Data
Compiled by Calem J. Smith
What has been the change in Global Average Temperatures? What has been the change in Carbon Dioxide levels?
Since 1979, NOAA satellites have been carrying instruments which measure the natural microwave thermal emissions from oxygen in the atmosphere. The signals that these microwave radiometers measure at different microwave frequencies are directly proportional to the temperature of different, deep layers of the atmosphere. As of early 2010, our most stable instrument for this monitoring is the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU-A) flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite. The graph below represents the latest update; updates are usually made within the first week of every month. Contrary to some reports, the satellite measurements are not calibrated in any way with the global surface-based thermometer record of temperature. They instead use their own on-board precision redundant platinum resistance thermometers calibrated to a laboratory reference standard before launch.
Since 1957 MLO has been continuously monitoring and collecting data relating to atmospheric change, and is known especially for their continuous monitoring of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, which is sometimes referred to as the Keeling Curve. The observatory is under the Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory (CMDL) which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Carbon Dioxide Growth Rate at Mauna Loa
(Roy Spencer, Ph. D.)
The atmospheric concentration of CO2 has been routinely measured near the summit of Mauna Loa, Hawaii since 1958. The location was originally chosen because it is so remote from major industrial sources of carbon dioxide, and so it is believed to be fairly representative of the Northern Hemisphere average.
While you have probably seen graphs of the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration slowly increasing over time, the graph above shows the yearly growth RATE, as well as the estimated yearly rate of emissions by humanity. It shows a couple of interesting things. First, the growth rate of atmospheric CO2 is, on average, only about 50% of what mankind emits. This means that Mother Nature takes out about 50% of the ‘excess’ CO2 that we pump into the atmosphere every year. And it seem like it doesn’t matter how much MORE we put in each year …nature still takes out an average of 50% of that amount. Secondly, it shows that there are huge year-to-year fluctuations in the amount of extra CO2 that shows up at Mauna Loa. Most of these fluctuations are due to El Nino and La Nina events. During El Nino, the surface waters of the Pacific warm, partly due to less upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich waters of the west coasts of the Americas, and less carbon dioxide is absorbed by the ocean than is given up. This is mostly due to below average phytoplankton growth, as well as the soda-fizz effect (warm water can hold less carbon dioxide than cool water). Also, the dip in 1993 is believe to be due to cooler ocean waters from less sunlight reaching the surface after the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo volcano pumped millions of tons of sulfur into the stratosphere.
The last 160 years of global average temperatures compared to global CO2 levels. Global temperature Data comes from GISS, CRU and NOAA. (Mid 2008 to approx 160 years prior)
Atmospheric CO2 background level 1826 – 1960. CO2 MBL estimation 1826- 1960 from directly measured data (Beck 2009); black line smoothed by a Savitzky-Golay filter, grey area= estimated error range). Savitzky Golay smoothing parameters : width of the moving window: 5, order: 2; passes: 3. (> 400 papers, >200 000 raw samples, > 100 000 selected for MBL estimation)
Dipl. Biol. Ernst-Georg Beck, 31 Rue du Giessen, F-68600 Biesheim, France E-mail: email@example.com; 2/2007 ABSTRACT More than 90,000 accurate chemical analyses of CO2 in air since 1812 are summarised. The historic chemical data reveal that changes in CO2 track changes in temperature, and therefore climate in contrast to the simple, monotonically increasing CO2 trend depicted in the post-1990 literature on climate-change. Since 1812, the CO2 concentration in northern hemispheric air has fluctuated exhibiting three high level maxima around 1825, 1857 and 1942 the latter showing more than 400 ppm. Between 1857 and 1958, the Pettenkofer process was the standard analytical method for determining atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, and usually achieved an accuracy better than 3%. These determinations were made by several scientists of Nobel Prize level distinction. Following Callendar (1938), modern climatologists have generally ignored the historic determinations of CO2, despite the techniques being standard text book procedures in several different disciplines. Chemical methods were discredited as unreliable choosing only few which fit the assumption of a climate CO2 connection.
180 YEARS OF ATMOSPHERIC CO2 GAS ANALYSIS BY CHEMICAL METHODS
CO2 1812–1961 (NH), chemical - Temperature (NH)
CO2 chemical 500 490 480 470 460 450 440 430 420 410 400 390 380 370 360 350 340 330 320 310 300 290 280 270 260 250 1800 Temp. Hansen 2005 Temp. HadCRUT3 2006 CO2 ice core Antarctica Angell NH 1985
180 Years of Atmospheric CO2 Gas Analysis by Chemical Methods
1810 1820 1830 1840 1850 1860 1870
1940 1950 1960 1970
Year (5 years average)
Figure 14: Measured average annual temperature in the northern hemisphere since 1850 (Jones, 88; Hansen, 89; Angell since 1810 to 1850, ), compared with 5 year-averaged atmospheric CO2 levels (chemical data), 5 years offset corrected, temperature data (Hansen/HadCRUT3) led CO2 data). Volcanic eruptions in Tambora 1815 and Krakatoa 1883 included. CO2 peaks 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 within 3% error range.
rel. temperature °C
Last 2,000 Years
This graph shows the average of 18 non-tree ring proxies of temperature from 12 locations around the Northern Hemisphere, published by Craig Loehle in 2007, and later revised in 2008. It clearly shows that natural climate variability happens, and these proxies coincide with known events in human history.
Kouwenberg (2004) Figure 5.4: Reconstruction of paleo-atmospheric CO2 levels when stomatal frequency of fossil needles is converted to CO2 mixing ratios using the relation between CO2 and TSDL as quantified in the training set. Black line represents a 3 point running average based on 3–5 needles per depth. Grey area indicates the RMSE in the calibration. White diamonds are data measured in the Taylor Dome ice core (Indermühle et al., 1999); white squares CO2 measurements from the Law Dome ice-core (Etheridge et al., 1996). Inset: Training set of TSDL response of Tsuga heterophylla needles from the Pacific Northwest region to CO2 changes over the past century (Chapter 4).
The Last 400,000 Years
A graph by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) shows that from 1950 to 400,000 years prior, CO2 and temperature levels have seemingly been rising and falling together.
‘Rises in C02 lag 800 years behind temperature rises. So temperature is leading CO2 by 800 years!’ - Prof. Ian Clark
"In the 1990’s the classic Vostok ice core graph showed temperature and carbon in lock step moving at the same time. It made sense to worry that carbon dioxide did influence temperature. But by 2003 new data came in and it was clear that carbon lagged behind temperature. The link was back to front. Temperatures appear to control carbon, and while it’s possible that carbon also influences temperature these ice cores don’t show much evidence of that. After temperatures rise, on average it takes 800 years before carbon starts to move. The extraordinary thing is that the lag is well accepted by climatologists, yet virtually unknown outside these circles." - Joanne Nova
The Last 545,000,000 Years
There have been ice ages when CO2 has been as much as 10 to 15 times higher than modern levels (for example the end-Ordovician Ice Age). There have also been times when temperature was increasing but CO2 was decreasing and times when CO2 was increasing but temperatures decreasing (during the Silurian and Devonian and during the Triassic and Jurassic, respectively). Late Carboniferous to Early Permian time (315 mya -- 270 mya) is the only time period in the last 600 million years when both atmospheric CO2 and temperatures were as low as they are today, the Quaternary Period. Average global temperatures in the Early Permian Period were hot, approximately 20° C, compared to the present average of roughly 14.5 degrees Celsius.
What Is the Greenhouse Effect?
The greenhouse effect causes the Earth’s atmosphere to be about 30° C warmer than it would be without greenhouse gases.
There are two meanings of the term "greenhouse effect". There is a "natural" greenhouse effect that keeps the Earth's climate warm and habitable. There is also the "man-made" greenhouse effect, which is the enhancement of Earth's natural greenhouse effect by the addition of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels (mainly petroleum, coal, and natural gas). In order to understand how the greenhouse effect operates, we need to first understand "infrared radiation". Greenhouse gases trap some of the infrared radiation that escapes from the Earth, making the Earth warmer that it would otherwise be.
Infrared (IR) radiation is just as important to the Earth's weather and climate as sunlight is. For every bit of sunlight that the Earth receives, an equal amount (on average) of IR radiation must travel from the Earth back to outer space. Everything emits infrared radiation -- you usually don't notice it, though, because it is weak, and you can't see it like you can sunlight. The radiant heat you feel from an oven or a fire is infrared radiation. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, especially water vapor, trap some of this infrared radiation, and keep the earth habitable for life. Clouds also trap some of this radiation. The reason why the air cools so quickly on a clear, dry evening is because the lack of humidity and clouds allows large amounts of IR radiation to escape rapidly to outer space.
You can think of greenhouse gases as sort of a "blanket" for infrared radiation-- it keeps the lower layers of the atmosphere warmer, and the upper layers colder, than if the greenhouse gases were not there.
Natural vs Man-Made Concentrations
(Human Contribution to Levels)
"Constructed from data in Table 1, the charts illustrate graphically how much of each greenhouse gas is natural vs how much is man-made. These allocations are used for the next and final step in this analysis-total man-made contributions to the greenhouse effect. Units are expressed to 3 significant digits in order to reduce rounding errors for those who wish to walk through the calculations, not to imply numerical precision as there is some variation among various researchers."
The Effect of Human Greenhouse Gas Contributions
"To finish with the math, by calculating the product of the adjusted CO2 contribution to greenhouse gases (3.618%) and % of CO2 concentration from anthropogenic (man-made) sources (3.225%), we see that only (0.03618 X 0.03225) or 0.117% of the greenhouse effect is due to atmospheric CO2 from human activity. The other greenhouse gases are similarly calculated and are summarized below."
Water vapor, responsible for 95% of Earth's greenhouse effect, is 99.999% natural (some argue, 100%). Even if we wanted to we can do nothing to change this. Anthropogenic (man-made) CO2 contributions cause only about 0.117% of Earth's greenhouse effect, (factoring in water vapor). This is insignificant! Adding up all anthropogenic greenhouse sources, the total human contribution to the greenhouse effect is around 0.28% (factoring in water vapor).
"Caveat: This analysis is intended to provide a simplified comparison of the various man-made and natural greenhouse gases on an equal basis with each other. It does not take into account all of the complicated interactions between atmosphere, ocean, and terrestrial systems, a feat which can only be accomplished by better computer models than are currently in use."
What is Water Vapour?
"..earth's most powerful greenhouse gas.."
Dr. Wallace Broecker, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, May 1996.
Water vapor is water in its gaseous state-instead of liquid or solid (ice). Water vapor is totally invisible. If you see a cloud, fog, or mist, these are all liquid water, not water vapor. Water vapor is extremely important to the weather and climate. Without out it, there would be no clouds or rain or snow, since all of these have their source in water vapor. All of the water vapor that evaporates from the surface of the Earth eventually returns as precipitation - rain or snow. Water vapor is also the Earth's most important greenhouse gas, giving us over 90% of the Earth's natural greenhouse effect, which helps keep the Earth warm enough to support life. When liquid water is evaporated to form water vapor, heat is absorbed. This helps to cool the surface of the Earth. This "latent heat of condensation" is released again when the water vapor condenses to form cloud water. This source of heat helps drive the updrafts in clouds and precipitation systems.
Mans contribution to the most influencial of all greenhouse gasses, atmospheric Water Vapour, equates to 0.001%
Total human greenhouse gas contributions add up to about 0.28% of the greenhouse effect. Water vapor constitutes Earth's most significant greenhouse gas, accounting for about 95% of Earth's greenhouse effect. Water vapor is 99.999% of natural origin. Other atmospheric greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and miscellaneous other gases (CFC's, etc.), are also mostly of natural origin (except for CFC's, which is mostly man made).
The colors range from dark brown (indicating low level of water vapour) to white, blue and dark blue (indicating high level of water vapour)
Water vapour is the most effective greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. It influences weather and climate and is responsible for cloud development, precipitation, and modulates the atmospheric radiative energy transfer. It effects weather and climate and is responsible for cloud development, precipitation, and modulates the atmospheric radiative energy transfer. Therefore it influences the energy balance of the earth and,in turn, also effects the temperature and circulation of the earth-atmosphere system.
The Effect of CO2 as a Greenhouse Gas
Are Sea Levels Rising due to Man Made CO2?
Since according to the IPCC, CO2-based warming is only evident since the 1970s, all of this sea level rise since prior to 1970 cannot be caused by anthropogenic CO2, and yet the trend has not increased. Thus sea level rise cannot be attributed to CO2.
Sea Level has varied by a large amount throughout history. Sea levels were as much as 265 metres higher than today 100 million years ago and have been as low as 140 metres lower than today during the Last Glacial Maximum.
Earth's climate and the biosphere have been in constant flux, dominated by ice ages and glaciers for the past several million years. We are currently enjoying a temporary reprieve from the deep freeze. Approximately every 100,000 years Earth's climate warms up temporarily. These warm periods, called interglacial periods, appear to last approximately 15,000 to 20,000 years before regressing back to a cold ice age climate. At year 18,000 and counting our current interglacial vacation from the Ice Age is much nearer its end than its beginning.
What is Thermal Expansion?
Thermal expansion, which is well-quantified, is currently the primary contributor to sea level rise and is expected to be the primary contributor over the course of the next century. Glacial contributions to sea-level rise are less important and are more difficult to predict and quantify.
Recent sea level rise has occurred at a mean rate of 1.8 mm per year for the past century or, between 1993 and 2003, a mean rate of 2.8 mm per year (plus or minus 0.4mm). Increasing temperatures result in sea level rise by the thermal expansion of water and through the addition of water to the oceans from the melting of ice. For the 1993 to 2003 decade, thermal expansion was estimated to have contributed 1.6 mm/year for the upper 750 metres of the ocean. Glaciers contributed 0.8 mm/yr (+/- 0.4)
It should be understood that the melting back of sea ice (e.g., in the Arctic and the floating ice shelves) will not directly contribute to sea level rise because this ice is already floating on the ocean (and so already displacing its mass of water).
Other Ice Loss contributed 0.3 mm/yr (+/- 0.15)
Temperature change of the upper 300m of ocean. (March 2000)
Is the South Pole Melting?
"The Antarctic sea ice area reached 16.2 million squared kilometers in 2007 - a new absolute record high since the measurements started in 1979." - Luboš Motl
NASA provides the following image from satellite infrared imaging, showing Antarctic temperature trend from 1982 to 2004.
"The Antarctic Peninsula / West Antarctica Region" is distinct from the larger East Antarctica. West Antarctica is volcanically active, whereas East Antarctica is quite stable.
According to the NASA GISS data, the South Pole winter (June/July/August) has cooled about 1 deg F (about 0.6 Celsius) since 1957 with the coldest year been 2004.
Has Antarctica's Larsen Ice sheet recovered?
That break up which caused a big temporary decline in the southern ice extent was not due to greenhouse warming but a big spike of solar activity, which caused significant warming of low and middle latitudes, a shrinking or the polar vortices in both hemispheres and actually even a temporary break-down for the first time ever of the southern vortex. This caused an increase in the winds and currents leading to the ice break-up. As the sun quieted, the ice quickly returned and has resumed its slow increase.
Ice shelves are thick plates of ice, fed by glaciers, that float on the ocean around much of Antarctica. The Larsen B shelf was about 220 meters thick. Based on studies of ice flow and sediment thickness beneath the ice shelf, scientists believe that it existed for at least 400 years prior to this event and likely existed since the end of the last major glaciation 12,000 years ago.
Antarctica's Larsen Ice Shelf, viewed from NASA's DC-8 aircraft in 2004, is one target of the 2009 Operation: Ice Bridge Antarctica campaign. Credit: NASA/Jim Ross
Is the North Pole Melting?
Satellites began to measure the Earth's cryosphere in 1979. Because of a warm summer, the Northern Hemisphere sea ice area has reached new historic lows in 2007 August 28th. The new minimum of 2.99 million squared kilometers of sea ice easily surpassed the previous record of 4.01 million squared kilometers set in 2005. The Arctic Sea Ice Anomaly has since returned closer to the norm.
Below 2 Maps: Winter Period for the Northern Hemisphere
Above 2 Maps: Summer Period for the Northern Hemisphere
Snow cover data available only after 2004.
Warmer oceans have indeed been selectively melting some portions of the Arctic Ice Cap, but severe storms created large waves which broke up, rather than melted a substantial portion of the edges of the polar ice. This re-freezes in the winter. The Arctic Ice Cap has since returned back to a handsome 13 million square kilometers in 2009, which will melt again in a normal summer melting cycle.
What is the Condition of Earths Glaciers?
The terminus of Tsaa Glacier in Icy Bay in July 2005. Photo by Chris Larsen, Geophysical Institute, UAF Some Glaciers are advancing in New Zealand, others are growing in Alaska, Switzerland, the Himalayas, and Mt. St. Helens has been forming a new glacier of its own.
The terminus of Tsaa Glacier in June 2007 after a recent advance of the glacier. Note the position of the large waterfall. The glacier advanced about one-third of a mile sometime between August 2006 and June 2007. Photo by Chris Larsen, Geophysical Institute, UAF
Photograph taken on October 1, 2004
Alaska's Hubbard Glacier is advancing toward Gilbert Point near Yakutat at the astonishing rate of two meters per day.
The Crater Glacier (also known as Tulutson Glacier) formed 20 years ago atop Mount Saint Helens, is advancing three feet per day and forming a collar around the growing dome.
The researchers at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory said they discovered glaciers in South America and New Zealand are inching forward, pointing to strong regional variations in climate. The paper published in Science magazine showed the Mt Cook glaciers advanced to their maximum length 6500 years ago, and have been smaller ever since. But glaciers in the Swiss Alps advanced to their maximum only in the past 700 years – during the Northern Hemisphere’s “Little Ice Age”, which ended about 1860. During some warm periods in Europe, glaciers were advancing in New Zealand. At other times, glaciers were well advanced in both areas. "Himalayan glaciers show variable behaviour over the past hundred years. Most have retreated, some have stayed almost static, and some have a record of advance and retreat. This parallels the rest of the world, where most glaciers have been retreating since the end of the last glacial period. Many have shown alternating periods of advance and retreat. " Australian glaciologist, Prof Cliff Ollier supports Indian scientist's findings of nothing out of the ordinary. Most glaciers are not advancing but unique cases exist where glacial growth is occuring at surprising rates.
Is Rising CO2 Causing more Cyclones/Hurricanes?
The most common method of measuring overall hurricane significance is in terms of the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE). ACE combines wind speed and duration of cyclones to determine accumulated energy. The global ACE for 1975-2008
Figure 3. Annual values of the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) Index (x 104 kt2) calculated for each of the seven tropical cyclone basins around the globe.
A paper called “Annual Analyses of Basin and Hemispheric Tropical Cyclone Indices” by Levinson, Lawrimore, Gleason and Wallis (NOAA/NESDIS National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, North Carolina), analyzed the occurrence of hurricanes / cyclones in the various global basins. The following figure shows annual values of ACE calculated for each of the seven global tropical cyclone basins showing no trend in ACE (the red lines denote the 1981-2000 base period means for each basin).
Is CO2 or Temperature Rise Harming the Great Barrier Reef and other Reefs alike?
Over the last 2000 years the Earth’s climate has warmed ~0.6°, mean sea level has risen by about 9 inches and the atmosphere has become about 100 ppmv more enriched with CO2; and the Great Barrier Reef has responded by steadily growing faster.
Ries et al., 2009 details the results of experimentally subjecting 18 carbonate shell building species to high CO2 levels. Most of them liked more CO2; particularly Coralline Red Algae and Temperate Coral.
Neither coral species experienced negative effects to calcification rates at CO2 levels below 1,000 parts per million.
Is Snow and Rainfall Decreasing due to Warming?
What is Driving Australia's Droughts?
A team of Australian scientists have detailed for the first time how a phenomenon known as the Indian Ocean Dipole, a variable and irregular cycle of warming and cooling of ocean water, dictates whether moisture-bearing winds are carried across the southern half of Australia.
Dr Ummenhofer "We have shown that the state of the Indian Ocean is highly important for rainfall and droughts in south-east Australia. More than the variability associated with the El Nino/La Nina cycle in the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean Dipole is the key factor for driving major south-east Australian droughts over the past 120 years."
So... What would Cause Global Temperatures to Rise?
Our planet is connected with our sun with more than light. In the left picture, you can see the sun and earth are connected by a stream of charged particles. The Sun produces a hot gas that travels through space at a million miles per hour, carrying particles and magnetism outward past the planets. In essense, the Earth is immersed in the Sun's atmosphere. Changes on the Sun affect the solar wind flow; for example, solar flares, which are explosions associated with sunspots, cause strong gusts of solar wind. The solar wind pushes and stretches Earth's protective magnetic field into a vast, comet-shaped region called the magnetosphere (picture on the right). The magnetosphere and Earth's atmosphere protect us from solar and cosmic radiations.
This composite figure (prepared by Lockheed) shows a sequence of solar x-ray images taken with the Yohkoh satellite about six months apart from solar maximum (lower left) to solar minimum (upper right). This is a dramatic example of how the sun changes over the 11-year solar cycle.
More Sunspots = More Warming?
The globally averaged sea surface temperatures are plotted with the sunspot numbers (Reid; 1999). Both sunspot number and solar cycle length are proxies for the amount of solar energy that Earth receives. The similarity of these curves is evidence that the sun has influenced the climate of the last 150 years.
Variations in the air temperature over land in the Northern Hemisphere (solid line) closely fit changes in the length of the sunspot cycle (dashed line). Shorter sunspot cycles are associated with increased temperatures and more intense solar activity.
Copyright 2009, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University
The following figure shows the longest-term data available representing the solar activity. “Three independent indices... The observed annual mean sunspot numbers (scale at right) also follows the 11-year solar activity cycle after 1700. The curve extending from 1000 to 1900 is a proxy sunspot number index derived from measurements of carbon-14 in tree rings. Increased carbon-14 is plotted downward (scale at left-inside), so increased solar activity and larger proxy sunspot numbers correspond to reduced amounts of radiocarbon in the Earth’s atmosphere. Open circles are an index of the occurrence of auroras in the Northern Hemisphere (scale at left-outside). (Courtesy of John A. Eddy.)”
What is Total Solar Irradiance?
Total solar irradiance is defined as the amount of radiant energy emitted by the Sun over all wavelengths that fall each second on 11 ft2 (1 m2) outside Earth's atmosphere. A study by S.K. Solanki and M. Fligge (Institute of Astronomy, ETH-Zentrum, CH-8092 Z¨urich, Switzerland) “A reconstruction of total solar irradiance since 1700”
Eleven-year running mean Thin solid curve: solar cycle length Thin dashed curve: sunspot number Thick solid curve: northern hemisphere land temperature anomaly
This graph is from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. It shows the solar irradiance in this annual translation of the Sunspot observations, using the Hoyt and Schatten (1997) calibration derived from observations depicted in Figure 2a. [ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/ 006/y5028e/y5028e01.pdf] The Solid lines shows the application of forty-five year smoothing, to expose the long-term trends in solar activity.
So... What would Cause Global Temperatures to Fall?
Solar winds are also known to push back or dampen cosmic radiation originating from super novas in deep space. There is a significant correlation between the amount of cosmic radiation entering the earth’s surface and the amount of low elevation cloud formation. The more cosmic radiation the more low elevation clouds that are formed. The more clouds, the greater the amount of solar energy that is reflected back into space, and the earth cools. When the sun is very active and there is a lot of solar wind, there is less cosmic radiation reaching earth, fewer low elevation clouds are formed, and the earth warms. This relationship itself can account for most of the warming in the twentieth century. As we start the 21st century, the reverse is happening. The sun has been extraordinarily quiet and scientists have found the solar winds have declined to the lowest levels ever measured. This should cause the earth to start cooling, which it did, starting in 2007.
Henrik Svensmark draws attention to an overlooked mechanism of climate change: clouds seeded by cosmic rays.
we had found a causal mechanism " By 2005cosmic rays can facilitate the producby which tion of clouds (Svensmark et al. 2007). The data revealed that electrons released in the air by cosmic rays act as catalysts. They signiﬁcantly accelerate the formation of stable, ultra-small clusters of sulphuric acid and water molecules which are building blocks for the cloud condensation nuclei.
More research on Solar and Cosmic Influences on Earth's Climate
Table 1 Correlation coeﬃcients between galactic cosmic ray ﬂux (GCR) or total solar irradiance (TSI) and two diﬀerent measures of ISCCP low cloud cover GCR vs. IRLOW Raw data No Ann. Cyc. Annual Run. mean Low pass High pass 0.179/0.263 0.261/0.427 0.373 0.351 0.326/0.552 )0.050 GCR vs. DAYLOW 0.114/0.147 0.124/0.168 0.214 0.177 0.172/0.229 )0.092 TSI vs. IRLOW )0.387/)0.370 )0.527/)0.563 )0.699 )0.697 )0.678/)0.689 )0.057 TSI vs. DAYLOW )0.288/)0.287 )0.346/)0.356 )0.523 )0.511 )0.473/)0.445 0.016
Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1022, Blindern, N-0315 Oslo, Norway b Danish Meteorological Institute, Lyngbyvej 100, DK-2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark
No lag is assumed. The numbers in italics are for detrended low cloud cover data.
Globally averaged Daytime low cloud cover (green) Total Solar Irradiance (red) Galactic cosmic ray flux (black) [inversed to demonstrate relation]
The following figure is from Usoskin & Kovaltsov: “Cosmic Rays and Climate of the Earth: Possible Connection”, C.R. Geoscience 340 (2008) and compares low cloud cover and cosmic ray intensity (CRI): “A link between low clouds and CR appears statistically significant on the interannual time scale since 1984 in limited geographical regions, the largest being North Atlantic + Europe and South Atlantic”
All Eyes on Solar Cycle 24
May 29, 2009: An international panel of experts led by NOAA and sponsored by NASA has released a new prediction for the next solar cycle. Solar Cycle 24 will peak, they say, in May 2013 with a below-average number of sunspots. "If our prediction is correct, Solar Cycle 24 will have a peak sunspot number of 90, the lowest of any cycle since 1928 when Solar Cycle 16 peaked at 78," says panel chairman Doug Biesecker of the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center.
This plot of sunspot numbers shows the measured peak of the last solar cycle in blue and the predicted peak of the next solar cycle in red. Credit: NOAA/Space Weather Prediction Center.
It is tempting to describe such a cycle as "weak" or "mild," but that could give the wrong impression. "Even a below-average cycle is capable of producing severe space weather," points out Biesecker. "The great geomagnetic storm of 1859, for instance, occurred during a solar cycle of about the same size we’re predicting for 2013." The 1859 storm--known as the "Carrington Event" after astronomer Richard Carrington who witnessed the instigating solar flare--electrified transmission cables, set fires in telegraph offices, and produced Northern Lights so bright that people could read newspapers by their red and green glow.
The latest forecast revises an earlier prediction issued in 2007. At that time, a sharply divided panel believed solar minimum would come in March 2008 followed by either a strong solar maximum in 2011 or a weak solar maximum in 2012. Competing models gave different answers, and researchers were eager for the sun to reveal which was correct. "It turns out that none of our models were totally correct," says Dean Pesnell of the Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA's lead representative on the panel. "The sun is behaving in an unexpected and very interesting way." Yearly-averaged sunspot numbers from 1610 to 2008. Researchers believe upcoming Solar Cycle 24 will be similar to the cycle that peaked in 1928, marked by a red arrow. Credit: NASA/MSFC
According to the forecast, the sun should remain generally calm for at least another year. From a research point of view, that's good news because solar minimum has proven to be more interesting than anyone imagined. Low solar activity has a profound effect on Earth’s atmosphere, allowing it to cool and contract. Space junk accumulates in Earth orbit because there is less aerodynamic drag. The becalmed solar wind whips up fewer magnetic storms around Earth's poles. Cosmic rays that are normally pushed back by solar wind instead intrude on the near-Earth environment. There are other side-effects, too, that can be studied only so long as the sun remains quiet.
The Sun is Undergoing a State Change
James A. Marusek
Each morning, I turn on my computer and check to see how the sun is doing. For the past several years I was normally greeted with the message "The sun is blank - no sunspots." We are at the verge of the next sunspot cycle, Solar Cycle 24. How intense will this cycle be? Why is this question important? Because there are “Danger Signposts” ahead! Sunspots are dark spots that appear on the surface of the sun. They are the location of intense magnetic activity and they are the sites of very violent explosions that produce solar storms. The sun goes through a cycle lasting approximately 11 years. It starts at a solar minimum when there are very few sunspots and builds to a solar maximum when hundreds of sunspots are present on the surface of the sun and then returns back to a solar quiet minimum. This cycle is called a solar cycle. We are currently in a solar minimum leading up to Solar Cycle 24, so named because it is the 24th consecutive cycle that astronomers have observed and listed. The first cycle began in March 1755.
Figure 1. Image of Solar Cycle 23 from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) by Steele Hill (NASA GSFC)
The sun exhibits great variability in the strength of each solar cycle. Some solar cycles produce a high number of sunspots. Other solar cycles produce low numbers. When a group of cycles occur together with high number of sunspots, this is referred to as a solar “Grand Maxima”. When a group of cycles occur with minimal sunspots, this is referred to as a solar “Grand Minima”. Usoskin details the reconstruction of solar activity during the Holocene period from 10,000 B.C. to the present.1 Refer to Figure 2. The red areas on the graph denote energetic solar “Grand Maxima” states. The blue areas denote quiet solar “Grand Minima” states. The reconstructions indicate that the overall level of solar activity since the middle of the 20th century stands amongst the highest of the past 10,000 years. This time period was a very strong “Grand Maxima”. Typically
these grand maxima are short-lived lasting in the order of 50 years. The reconstruction also reveals “Grand Minima” epochs of suppressed activity, of varying durations have occurred repeatedly over that time span. A solar Grand Minima is defined as a period when the (smoothed) sunspot number is less than 15 during at least two consecutive decades. The sun spends about 17 percent of the time in a Grand Minima state. Examples of recent extremely quiet solar “Grand Minima” are the Maunder Minimum (about 1645-1715 A.D.) and Spörer Minimum (about 1420-1570 A.D.)
Figure 2. Sunspot activity throughout the Holocene. Blue and red areas denote grand minima and maxima, respectively. The entire series is spread out over two panels for better visibility.1
By monitoring the number of spotless days (days without sunspots) during a solar minimum, scientists can gain a sense of the intensity of the upcoming solar cycle. As of the end of December 2009, the cumulative number of spotless days in the transition into Solar Cycle 24 now stands at 771. The number of spotless days is beginning to tapper off. There were only 10 spotless days in December. The transitions into Solar Cycles (SC16-23), referred to as recent solar cycles (years 1923 to ~2008), averaged 362 cumulative spotless days. Those minimums ranged from 227 - 568 spotless days. Since the current transition now exceeds this range, it is fairly clear that the sun is undergoing a state change. The solar Grand Maxima state that has persisted during most of the 20th century is coming to an abrupt end. The old solar cycles (SC 10-15, years 1856 to 1923) averaged 797 spotless days, over twice that of the recent solar cycles. Those solar minimums ranged from 406 - 1028 spotless days.2 If this solar minimum ends soon, as it appears to be doing, then the upcoming solar cycle may be similar to the old solar cycles. The sun has gone magnetically quiet as it transitions to Solar Cycle 24. The Average Magnetic Planetary Index (Ap index) is a proxy measurement for the intensity of solar magnetic activity as it alters the geomagnetic ﬁeld on Earth. It is commonly referred to a measuring stick for solar magnetic activity. For 11 months, from November 2008 to September 2009, the Ap index had been hovering near rock bottom with reading of 4’s and 5’s. But in the last two months, October and November, the Ap monthly index broke through the glass floor and spawned the lowest value in the past 77 years with a reading of "3". And then in December, the AP Index even went quieter with a reading of "2" 3
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