Despite the claims of “consensus,” scientists the world over are studying an intriguing new theory on climate change:read part one here
Cosmic Rays | Photo Credit Wikimedia Commons
In our last article, we noted that Sir William Herschel initially believed that more active solar activity in the form of sunspots would “weaken” the sun’s energy making the Earth’s weather less “mild.” As a result of this he believed that sunspots would hurt crop yield. However with investigation he found the exact opposite was true, the less active sun actually showed smaller crop yields while the more active sun showed greater crop yield. A similar thing happened to a future Nobel Laureate in physics, Victor Hess.
Like the “obvious” conclusion that Herschel made about sunspots, the conventional wisdom up until the early twentieth century was that the closer you were to the Earth’s surface the higher the radiation levels would be. Since Earth was the source of radiation it was believed that as you moved away from the surface the radiation levels would begin to dissipate. Hess sought to prove or disprove this theory. He did this by ascending in a balloon on multiple occasions and taking measurement with an electrometer.
Surprisingly he found that rather than decreasing with increased elevation, radiation increased the higher into the atmosphere he ascended. Hess theorized that some sort of energized particles were entering the atmosphere from space, and he was right. In 1925 another scientist Robert Millikin confirmed Hess’s discovery and in 1936 Victor Hess and Carl David Anderson who discovered positron and the muon in the newly discovered “cosmic rays” were awarded a Nobel Prize in Physics.
Cosmic rays are really not rays at all but high energy particles whose sources of origin are varied but are suspected to be particles formed as stars explode as supernovas. These particles are constantly bombarding the Earth from all directions. The Earth, indeed the solar system is moving within this ever flowing stream of highly charged particles that Hess discovered which we call cosmic rays.
One of the mysteries of Herschel’s connection between sunspots and wheat crops is how can sunspots have any bearing on Earth’s climate if the amount of energy reaching the Earth remains relatively constant? Over the years astronomers and scientists have discovered that one thing which does happen when the sun is more active and that is solar “winds” are stronger.
Increased sunspot activity frequently accompanies an increase in the outflow of matter from the Sun in the form of a “solar wind”. Charged particles in this wind can interact with atoms in the upper atmosphere and sometimes wreak havoc with our communications systems.
But its possible and a growing body of scientific evidence is mounting that there is a connection between sunspots and Earth’s climate.
In 1991 before the global warming phenomena had totally corrupted the science community by turning everything it touches into a political contest, two Danish scientists Eigil Friis-Christensen and Knud Lassen published a paper. The paper was the product of years of research on the correlation between solar activity and global temperatures. In a way it was a continuation of Herschel’s sunspot to price of wheat connection.
A few years later, another Danish scientist, physicist Henrik Svensmark who had investigated the possibility that cosmic rays could play a part in cloud formation teamed up with his fellow Danish scientists and an alternate theory on global warming was proposed. In the years since many scientists from around the world have joined the investigation into the connection between cosmic rays and Earth’s climate, which these Danish scientists initially proposed.
The basic theory is this:
The Earth is under constant bombardment by these cosmic rays; however the Sun’s magnetic field deflects cosmic rays away from Earth. Therefore when the Sun is very active the increased solar winds deflect more of the cosmic rays away from the Earth, conversely when the Sun is “quiet” more of the cosmic rays reach the Earth’s atmosphere. In other words when the sun is active (sunspot activity) it protects the Earth from these cosmic rays. This part of the theory is not all that controversial.
The real question is whether cosmic rays are ionizing molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere attracting other molecules to create the aerosols around which water vapor forms to create cloud droplets. Because as we shall explore in the final post of this series, clouds are extremely important and the great unknown in the climate change debate.
Serious research is, finally, being done on this possibility that cosmic rays could help or even be responsible for cloud formation . If this connection is proven then the entire climate change narrative will virtually collapse.
But the link between sunspot activity and climate is, well shall we say interesting. In 2010 a Finnish research team did a study on long-term solar activity, long term meaning the last 12,000 years a very good summary of which you can find at the excellent Watts Up With site. Among the more interesting conclusions the scientist come to in their study is this:
The sun spends about 70% of its time at moderate magnetic activity levels, about 15 – 20% of its time in a grand minimum and about 10 – 15% in a grand maximum. Modern solar activity corresponds to a grand maximum.
The graph from their research recreating solar activity over the past 12,000 years bears this out.