by Judith Curry
The publication last week of results from the CERN CLOUD experiment on cosmic rays is generating significant buzz, with substantial debate on the implication of these results for climate change,
Nature News reports:
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. But, Kirkby adds, those particles are far too small to serve as seeds for clouds. “At the moment, it actually says nothing about a possible cosmic-ray effect on clouds and climate, but it’s a very important first step,” he says.
Other notable media/blogosphere articles include:
1) Probing the cosmic-ray–climate link Physics World, 24 August 2011
2) David Whitehouse: CERN Finds “Significant” Cosmic Ray Cloud Effect – The Observatory, 25 August 2011
3) Nigel Calder: CERN Experiment Confirms Cosmic Rays Action – Calder’s Updates, 24 August 2011
4) RealClimate The CERN/CLOUD results are surprisingly interesting
This afternoon, Nir Shaviv gave a comprehensive overview on his perspective of the cosmic ray – climate connection. I don’t yet have that presentation available, but will post when available.
JC comments: this is a fascinating topic, and the CERN CLOUD experiment seems very well designed. I look forward to digging into this topic at some point when I have more time. At this point I will only state that this experiment doesn’t tell us much about the climate system. Climate models have “overegged” the aerosol forcing IMO, and aerosol indirect effects ranks as a very large uncertainty. Hopefully the results of this experiment will motivate an enhanced consideration of this issue in the context of climate variability and change.
Addendum: Oops, I forgot to include Josh’s UnCERNtainty Monster cartoon