Friday, August 26, 2011

Clouds, Conspiracies, and Cosmic Rays

Perhaps Nature's publication of the Kirby et al paper on the CERN CLOUD experiment (and accompanying news story) will put an end to the ridiculous notion that science journals are somehow in cahoots and are all suppressing any papers that disagree with the supposedly worldwide, secret conspiracy of tens of thousands of people to promote anthropogenic climate change and thereby enslave billions of people so as to finally realize their fascist utopia.

But probably it will not.

And Gavin Schmidt's post at RealClimate should be noted for his reaction to the paper, indicating that real scientists (and all serious people) are interested in results no matter what they say, because what they really want most of all is understand the world.

But probably it will not.

And perhaps they will remember that this is one result towards the chain of conditions needed to confirm Svensmark's hypothesis; as Gavin writes:
We were clear in the 2006 post that establishing a significant GCR/cloud/climate link would require the following steps (given that we have known that ionisation plays a role in nucleation for decades). One would need to demonstrate:
1. … that increased nucleation gives rise to increased numbers of (much larger) cloud condensation nuclei (CCN)
2. … and that even in the presence of other CCN, ionisation changes can make a noticeable difference to total CCN
3. … and even if there were more CCN, you would need to show that this actually changed cloud properties significantly,
4. … and that given that change in cloud properties, you would need to show that it had a significant effect on radiative forcing.
Of course, to show that cosmic rays were actually responsible for some part of the recent warming, you would need to show that there was actually a decreasing trend in cosmic rays over recent decades – which is tricky, because there hasn’t been....
But clearly people aren't.

Personally I found this 2009 GRL paper by Pierce and Adams (no, not the presidents of the United States) to be a good exploration of the topic.

Others probably did not.

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