Tuesday, September 17, 2019

                  COSMIC RAYS AND CLOUDS
            On the 17th of August this year, a few of us from Vagaries had the privilege of visiting the Cloud Physics Laboratory in Mahabaleshwar, on the invitation of IITM, under guidance from Rajesh sir. It was interesting to see the various instruments used to study the formation of clouds and their various attributes using physical and chemical methods.
One of the instruments we saw was a cloud chamber. This is used to analyse the formation of water droplets when a charged particle passes by. One of the reasons for formation of water droplets that eventually collectively form a cloud which produces rain, is cosmic rays.
Cosmic rays are atomic fragments that rain down on Earth from outside the solar system. Their origins are mysterious and some scientists claim supernovas as the point of origin. Recently the Pierre Auger Observatory ( Argentina) studied the trajectory of 30,000 particles.  "It concluded that there is a difference in how frequently these cosmic rays arrive, depending on where you look. While their origins are still nebulous, knowing where to look is the first step in learning where they came from, the researchers said. (space.com)"
The Solar activity/cosmic ray link climate modulation system can be summarized by the following chart:

So essentially cosmic rays help in the formation of 1-2nm sized Ions. These coalesce to form 20nm sized and then 50nm sized Cloud Condensation Nuclei (CCN). These lead to further 15micrometer sized cloud droplets.
But what is the actual link between cosmic rays and clouds? Mr. Henrik Svensmark, Danish scientist, recently made a presentation at the 12th International Climate Conference in Munich, where he showed the link between solar activity via cosmic rays and cloud cover and how this cloud cover influences climate.

"Observations and proxy data show that “when you have high cosmic rays, you have a cold climate” because of greater cloud cover. According Svensmark, the net effect of clouds is to cool the Earth by up to 30 W/m2.
Clouds are extremely important for the Earth’s energy budget. The net effect is about 20 to 30 watts per square meter.”
That figure is great in terms of impact on climate change, and it is grossly neglected by CO2-fixated climate scientists.(notrickszone.com)"
See the following chart:
His experiments confirm that solar cycles cause energy changes of 1.5W/m2 on the oceans of the world. It has an 11 year cycle that is consistent with climate changes over the Holocene and even going upto a 100 million years.
Another aspect is the link between cosmic rays and solar sunspots. Solar minimum ( when there are zero sunspots on the surface of the sun) causes lower radiation which in turn allows more cosmic rays to penetrate the solar system and reach Earth. This link is visible in the cosmic ray count chart shown below:

Below is the chart of the solar cycle:
You can clearly see a 11 year cycle in the cosmic ray counts, consistent with the sunspot solar cycle of the sun.
As the debate over global warming continues it is important to look at evidence that is emerging in different fields too. The link between cosmic rays and clouds is one such link that needs more study. 


Sarfaraj khan said...

Rajesh sir how will be mumbai forecast for this weekend?

shiekhz said...

Superb...great work again by Vagaries

Nimish Thaker said...

Great article, very informative. Was completely unaware about the concept of Cosmic Rays and its effects on Cloud formation / weather.

Rajesh said...

What a in depth article..something new . Great job GSB

Cumulus arjun said...

Nice article gsb sir!!!!

Cumulus arjun said...

Monsoon has been vigorously active for MP, maharashtra gujarat since July. Kerala, Karnataka and TN also scoring nicely without major disruptions.

GSB said...

Thanks everyone and Rajesh Sir. In seven years of association with Vagaries I have learned a lot about the weather. Still a long way to go...:)

ugaap said...

Anyone interested in getting information/knowledge about various factors affecting Climate can visit https://wattsupwiththat.com/ .

Also see Global Warming: Fact or Fiction? Featuring Physicists Willie Soon and Elliott Bloom

ugaap said...

The two links as clickable


Global Warming: Fact or Fiction? Featuring Physicists Willie Soon and Elliott Bloom

Wednesday 6.30 pm IST