Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A new theory of climate change

27.02.2007
The leader of Sun-climate research at the Danish National Space Center, Henrik Svensmark, puts together the findings reported by him and his colleagues in a dozen scientific papers, to tell how the climate is governed by atomic particles coming from exploded stars.

These cosmic rays help to make ordinary clouds. High levels of cosmic rays and cloudiness cool the world, while milder intervals occur when cosmic rays and cloud cover diminish.


Cosmic radiation entering Earth's atmosphere. Credit: Danish National Space Center

The review paper entitled ‘Cosmoclimatology: a new theory emerges’ appears in the February issue of Astronomy & Geophysics. Here are some of its salient points.

For more than 20 years, satellite records of low-altitude clouds have closely followed variations in cosmic rays. Just how cosmic rays take part in cloud-making appeared in the SKY experiment, conducted in the basement of the Danish National Space Center. Electrons set free in the air by passing cosmic rays help to assemble the building blocks for cloud condensation nuclei on which water vapour condenses to make clouds.

Cosmic ray intensities – and therefore cloudiness – keep changing because the Sun’s magnetic field varies in its ability to repel cosmic rays coming from the Galaxy, before they can reach the Earth. Radioactive carbon-14 and other unusual atoms made in the atmosphere by cosmic rays provide a record of how cosmic-ray intensities have varied in the past. They explain repeated alternations between cold and warm periods during the past 12,000 years. Whenever the Sun was feeble and cosmic-ray intensities were high, cold conditions ensued, most recently in the Little Ace Age that climaxed 300 years ago.

On long timescales the intensity of cosmic rays varies more emphatically because the influx from the Galaxy changes. During the past 500 million years the Earth has passed through four ‘hothouse’ episodes, free of ice and with high sea levels, and four ‘icehouse’ episodes like the one we live in now, with ice-sheets, glaciers and relatively low sea levels.

Nir Shaviv of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, together with Ján Veizer of the Ruhr University and the University of Ottawa, links these changes to the journey of the Sun and the Earth through the Milky Way Galaxy. They blame the icehouse episodes on encounters with bright spiral arms, where cosmic rays are most intense. More frequent chilling events, every 34 million years or so, occur whenever the solar system passes through with the mid-plane of the Galaxy.

In Snowball Earth episodes around 700 and 2300 million years ago, even the Equator was icy. At those times the birth-rate of stars in the Galaxy was unusually high, which would have also meant a large number of exploding stars and intense cosmic rays. Earlier still, the theory of cosmic rays and clouds helps to explain why the Earth did not freeze solid when it was very young. The Sun was much fainter than it is now, but also more vigorous in repelling cosmic rays, so the Earth would not have had much cloud cover.

While calculating the changing influx since life began about 3.8 billion years ago, Dr Svensmark discovered a surprising connection between cosmic-ray intensities and a variability of the productivity of life. The biggest fluctuations in productivity coincided with high star formation rates and cool periods in the Earth’s climate. Conversely, during a billion years when star formation was slow, cosmic rays were less intense and the Earth’s climate was warmer, the biosphere was almost unchanging in its productivity.

Near the end of his review Dr Svensmark writes: ‘The past 10 years have seen the reconnaissance of a new area of research by a small number of investigators. The multidisciplinary nature of cosmoclimatology is both a challenge and an opportunity for many lines of inquiry.’ Even the search for alien life is affected, because it should now take into account of the need for the right magnetic environment, if life is to originate and survive on the planets of other stars.

Sune Nordentoft Lauritsen | alfa
Further information:
http://www.spacecenter.dk
http://www.spacecenter.dk/research/sun-climate/a-new-theory-of-climate-change

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth
17.11.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Pluto's hydrocarbon haze keeps dwarf planet colder than expected
16.11.2017 | University of California - Santa Cruz

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>