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Preliminary results for the CERN CLOUD cosmic ray experiment

Nature.com | December 15, 2010

An experiment designed to investigate the link between solar activity and the climate has its first results in the bag. At the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco today, Joachim Curtius presented data from the first runs of the CLOUD (‘cosmics leaving outdoor droplets’) experiment at CERN – the European particle physics lab outside of Geneva.

The experiment has a long and bumpy history. The idea is to test the theory that cosmic rays spur the formation of particles in the air that nucleate clouds, in turn making skies cloudier and the planet cooler. Researchers have noted a dearth of sunspots (which is linked to more cosmic rays) during the ‘little ice age’ of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and a peak in sunspots (linked to a drop in cosmic rays) during the late 1980s, when global cloudiness dropped by about 3% (see Nature‘s feature on the project). No one knows how big this effect might be, and the idea that it might account for a big chunk of the warming over the last century is highly controversial.

CLOUD uses a particle beam from CERN as a stand-in for cosmic rays, and fires them through an ultra-clean steel chamber filled with select atmospheric gases, to see if and how particles that could nucleate clouds are formed. Project head Jasper Kirkby proposed the experiment back in 1998. But it had a hard time getting off the ground – perhaps in part because Kirkby received bad press for emphasizing the importance of cosmic rays to climate change (see this story from the National Post). CLOUD finally got going in 2006, and they started work with the full kit in November 2009 (here’s a CERN video update about that).

The results haven’t yet been published, so Curtius declined to discuss the details. But the important thing is that the project is working – they have seen sulphuric acid and water combine to make particles when blasted by the CERN beam, for example, in a way that matches predictions of the most recent models. The data should help the team to quantify how much of an impact the Sun is having on climate within 2-3 years, Curtius says – though there are a lot more pieces of the puzzle to fill in.

December 16, 2010  Anthony Watts adds:

Dr. Roy Spencer has mentioned that it doesn’t take much in the way of cloud cover changes to add up to the “global warming signal” that has been observed. He writes in The Great Global Warming Blunder:

The most obvious way for warming to be caused naturally is for small, natural fluctuations in the circulation patterns of the atmosphere and ocean to result in a 1% or 2% decrease in global cloud cover. Clouds are the Earth’s sunshade, and if cloud cover changes for any reason, you have global warming — or global cooling.

See also: Cosmic rays linked to rapid mid-latitude cloud changes

December 16, 2010 - Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science

5 Comments »

  1. I don’t want to comment on articles like this, but who will if I don’t.

    “Scientists”. Another misnomer. After the ‘moon walk’ was revealed to be nothing but a costly lie, they continue to ‘dazzle’ us with their ‘discoveries’. How is this crap, this ‘discovery’ helping to better the situation of peoples who are homeless, starving, being poisoned, in body, mind and soul by wasting billions on this type of useless information. What is it going to change, even if it is true, which is anyones ‘guess’. When a ‘distinguished scientist’ states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is IMpossible he is VERY probably wrong. EVERYTHING is possible. When the search for Truth is confused with political advocacy, the pursuit of knowledge is reduced to the quest for power. The search for Truth must have no agenda other than fact. When someone looks at an issue in determing the truth, he must be openminded and look at the issue without pre concieved agendas. Those who stand on principles of Truth are almost always ridiculed and sometimes murdered. Scientists ‘guess’. An informed ‘guess’ is still just a guess. Like an opinion. A BIASED opinion. I have more respect for people who change their views after learning new information than those who cling to views they held 30 years ago. The world changes. Idealogues and zealots don’t. God said: ‘everything man does in darkness of evil will be brought to light in the end days.’ I am certain there is way too much certainty in the world. The only REAL certainty is what GOD believes. After all, HE is the only ONE who can SEE hearts, or where a heart should be. And only He can see from the beginning. Regardless of what man can see or understand. They are like grasshoppers, to Him, He says.
    I am NOT a scientists. I have worked with them in their expensive labs, raking in big money, contributing little to real issues. I am very familiar with Quantum Physics. Gods’ smallest particle, that scientists are always ‘trying’ to discover. I am a distance healer. Impossible some, MOST say. But those who experience it will disagree. I myself had so much radiation I should have been dead. Then, frequencies, energies of God ~~ Quantum Physics, healed me. So I have some knowledge of what I am talking about.

    Comment by Joyce | December 16, 2010 | Reply

  2. I hope to ‘God’ you are joking Joyce.

    Comment by Louisa Blacklock | January 24, 2011 | Reply

  3. Louisa, whichever you are referring to, I assure you it is NOT a joke. GOD ALMIGHTY tells me the truth and HE ASSURES ME THAT IT IS ALL TRUE. It doesn’t matter to HIM if you believe it or not. I do guarantee you THAT!
    Ask HIM, if you dare. He hears everthing, and everyone, HE will answer anyone who asks HIM.

    Comment by Joyce/No lies | January 24, 2011 | Reply

    • Hi Joyce,
      I’m a little confused, I thought this article was about the cloud experiment at CERN, not a theological discussion, I’m sure you will agree, that god wants us to understand as much as possible, science doesn’t go against god, it illuminates for all to see.
      And there are many pursuits that do nothing to alleviate the suffering on the planet, so why pick on this one, if this theory is proved to be correct, maybe the funds being used to counter act human global warming could be used to counter act the affects of what may be a natural occurrence.

      Comment by robert | January 31, 2011 | Reply

  4. Robert.. God is smack dab in the middle of it all.. all of it is pertinent to Him.

    Comment by Joyce/No lies | January 31, 2011 | Reply


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