‘Cosmoclimatology’ – tired old arguments in new clothes

Image from cosmosIn a recent issue of the journal Astronomy and Geophysics (A&G), Henrik Svensmark coined a new term: ‘cosmoclimatology’ . I think ‘cosmoclimatology’ is a good and refreshing name for anything combining our cosmos with our climate. However, all other aspects of the article I found very disappointing. We have already covered most of these topics before, but the A&G articles provides us with some new aspects to discuss. Furthermore, Svensmark is the Director for Center for Sun-Climate Research, Danish National Space Center, and therefore influential. He is also the co-author of a recent book with Nigel Calder that received some attention. Furthermore, a laboratory experiment of his also managed to make some headlines. It seems that solar forcing is one of the sceptics’ last trenches in the debate about climate change. In my view the A&G paper therefore merits a comment as long as the same old and worn arguments resurface without discussing misgivings from the critics.

There are a number of issues which really make the A&G paper poor in my view. One is the neglect in addressing old criticisms of the hypothesis that galactic cosmic rays (GCR) change our climate by modulating clouds (see here, here, & here). Svensmark is very vague on the lack of any trend in GCR or other solar proxies since 1952. I confronted him about this question on an European Geophysical Society (EGS) conference in Nice a few years ago, and have since published a paper also making the point. The A&G article makes selective references, without answering the serious criticism forwarded by Damon & Laut (2004), Laut (2003), or myself. To be fair, the critical paper by Kristjansson and Kristiansen (2000) is cited, albeit only to say that Svensmarks’s own conclusion is “a counter-intuitive finding for some critics“. The remaining treatment of critical aspects is completed in the A&G article without further qualifications other than the following passage (my emphasis):

The chief objection to the idea that cosmic rays influence cloudiness came from meteorologists who insisted that there was no mechanism by which they could do so. On the other hand, some atmospheric physicists concluded that observation and theory had failed to account satisfactorily for the origin of aerosol particles without which water is unable is unable to condense to make clouds.

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