Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

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25 December 2009

Another Cosmic Ray Effect on the Climate

I have previously discussed the variability of cosmic radiation incident upon the Earth and its effect upon climate through the formation of sunlight-reflecting clouds here, here, here, here, and here.  Now there is a theory that the interaction of cosmic rays with chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and their effect upon the ozone layer have completely controlled the climate in the Arctic and Antarctic atmospheres since 1950.  Qing-Bin Lu, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, was studying the depletion of the Earth's ozone layer, which was known to be a result of CFCs and of cosmic ray radiation.  He has discovered that CO2 concentrations have no effect upon the Arctic and Antarctic surface temperatures.  He says the concentration of CFCs, which are greenhouse gases, decreased in about 2000 and global temperatures have fallen since then.

Lu claims that the warming from 1950 to 2000 became cooling in 2002 and the cooling trend will continue for the next 50 years.  He says from 1850 to 1950, global temperatures were nearly constant or rose by only 0.1C.
In previously published work, Lu demonstrated that an observed cyclic hole in the ozone layer provided proof of a new ozone depletion theory involving cosmic rays, which was developed by Lu and his former co-workers at Rutgers University and the Université de Sherbrooke. In the past, it was generally accepted for more than two decades that the Earth's ozone layer is depleted due to the sun's ultraviolet light-induced destruction of CFCs in the atmosphere.
The depletion theory says cosmic rays, rather than the sun's UV light, play the dominant role in breaking down ozone-depleting molecules and then ozone. In his study, published in Physical Review Letters, Lu analyzed reliable cosmic ray and ozone data in the period of 1980-2007, which cover two full 11-year solar cycles.
In his latest paper, Lu further proves the cosmic-ray-driven ozone depletion theory by showing a large number of data from laboratory and satellite observations. One reviewer wrote: "These are very strong facts and it appears that they have largely been ignored in the past when modelling the Antarctic ozone loss."
New observations of the effects of CFCs and cosmic rays on ozone loss and global warming/cooling could be important to the Earth and humans in the 21st century. "It certainly deserves close attention," Lu wrote in his paper, entitled Cosmic-Ray-Driven Electron-Induced Reactions of Halogenated Molecules Adsorbed on Ice Surfaces: Implications for Atmospheric Ozone Depletion and Global Climate Change.
The paper, published Dec. 3 in Physics Reports, is available online at: dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.physrep.2009.12.002.

My expectation is that Lu effect may be significant and may be particularly important in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, but the effect of cosmic rays on cloud nucleation and formation in the mid-latitudes and tropics is also important.  In both cases, the flux of cosmic rays on Earth is largely controlled by the solar wind and therefore by the solar cycle.  Of course the direct solar irradiance, which also changes with the solar cycle, is also important, as is the most important greenhouse gas, water vapor.  These are the dominant factors affecting the net energy input to the Earth, with ocean cycles playing an important role in the transfer of long-stored energy to or from the atmosphere as well.  Volcanoes, hot springs in the oceans, the interaction of the Sun's electromagnetic field with the Earth's, and the solar wind as a flux of incident particles itself, all play roles in the climate and its variations as well.  The magnitude of each of these factors on the climate is as yet not well enough understood.  One thing that is clear is that the effect of CO2 at present atmospheric concentrations or at those concentrations which are higher than at present, is a relatively unimportant effect upon climate change.

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