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Ozone holes and cosmic rays

Filed under: — gavin @ 14 December 2008 - (Italian)

ozone hole sept 2007Browsing through the blogosphere recently, I came across an interesting little story about the scientific method, scientific progress, and un-scientific spin (h/t Hank Roberts). The subject concerns the polar ozone hole in Antarctica and a possible role for cosmic rays in its variability on solar cycle timescales. The proponents of this link are a small research group at the University of Sherbrooke in Canada, who find themselves up against the mainstream stratospheric chemistry community and whose ideas are twisted out of all recognition by the more foolish of the usual suspects.

The story hit the ‘tubes earlier this year when researcher Q.B. Lu predicted that this years Antarctic ozone hole would be the biggest ever due to the actions of increased galactic cosmic rays (GCR) (because we are at solar minimum and GCR are inversely correlated to solar activity). This years peak ozone hole has now come and gone, and the prediction can therefore be evaluated. Unfortunately for Dr. Lu, this year’s hole was merely about average for the decade – a result that wasn’t too supportive for his theory.

This story made me a little curious about this though. Firstly, I didn’t initially understand why cosmic rays should be playing a role in ozone depletion – most of the cosmic ray effects that are usually discussed revolve around cloud-aerosol connections, but there are not many clouds in the stratosphere where the ozone holes form, and the ones there are (Polar Stratospheric Clouds – PSCs) are much more sensitive to temperature and water vapour than they are likely to be to background aerosols. On further investigation, it turns out that this idea has been out there for a few years (and was reported on then) and has subsequently been discussed in the ozone literature.

So let’s start with the background theory. Standard (Nobel-prize winning) stratospheric chemistry has tied ozone depletion to the increasing chlorine (Cl) load in the stratosphere which catalytically destroys ozone and comes from the photolytic dissolution of human-sourced chloro-fluoro-carbons (CFCs) high in the stratosphere. In the polar night, the presence of PSCs allows for a specific class of heterogeneous Cl reactions to occur on the surface of the cloud particles which turn out to be very efficient at destroying ozone. Hence the presence of an ozone hole in the very cold Antarctic polar vortex. Since PSCs are very sensitive to temperature, cold winter vortex conditions often presage a large ozone depletion the following spring (note that polar ozone depletion only occurs in sunlight and so is a spring time phenomena in both hemispheres). This is pretty much undisputed at this point (well, at least by serious scientists). We here at RealClimate even used this relationship to predict (successfully) a particularly large Arctic ozone depletion event in 2005.

Dr. Lu’s theory though posits an additional mechanism to release the Cl from the CFCs – and that is through GCR effects. Specifically, Lu suggests that the action of the GCR on CFCs attached to PSCs causes more Cl to be released, thus potentially delivering more Cl exactly where it could enhance polar depletion most effectively. The evidence for this comes from correlations of ozone loss with GCR (over a couple of solar cycles) and some suggestive lab experiments. Note that this does not call into question the anthropogenic source of the Cl which is still from CFCs.

However, Lu and colleagues’ theory has been strongly challenged in the literature. For instance, here, here and here. The comments focus on two main aspects, the weakness of the correlations (see figure), and the ancillary evidence that there isn’t any obvious evidence for CFC destruction in the polar vortex itself. In fact, correlations of CFCs with air mass tracers from the upper stratosphere are very stable, indicating that the photolytic conversion of the CFCs is by far the dominant source of Cl. These rebuttals seem quite compelling, and there doesn’t seem to be much continued support for Dr. Lu’s GCR idea. However, Lu is still pushing it (hence the press release this year just weeks before the prediction would be put to the test). One might think Dr. Lu’s ideas wrong, but one can’t fault his bravery in putting them to the test.

As we stated above, the un-exceptional ozone loss this year pretty much undermines the correlations that were at the heart of Lu’s idea. Thus I predict that this is unlikely to be discussed very much more in the literature except as an example of how interesting ideas are generated, discussed, tested and (in this case) found wanting. This indeed is how scientific progress is made.

But, as has often been noted, the contrarian-sphere is a world on its own. It was inevitable that the headline link between GCR and ozone holes would entice the old-school ozone depletion skeptics and ‘everything-is-solar” proponents out of their burrows. Tim Ball led the charge. Now Dr. Ball is a long time skeptic on the human influence on ozone depletion as well as climate change, and so he couldn’t resist the occasion to opine on all theories anthropogenic:

Nurtured by environmental hysteria and the determination to show all changes in the natural world are due to human activity, the claim CFCs were destroying ozone jumped directly from an unproven hypothesis to a scientific fact.

He also includes standard statements implying that scientists implicated CFCs in ozone depletion to deprive the developing world of refrigeration (oh my!), how there hasn’t been a change in ozone depletion in any case (despite showing a series of figures obviously demonstrating this – see here as well) and so on…. He did however note that Dr. Lu’s theories don’t actually change any of the mainstream prescriptions for dealing with ozone depletion (though he does get confused about the CO2 impact on stratospheric temperatures – it makes them colder, not warmer). But the real prize goes to Dennis “unstoppable” Avery who suggests that Dr. Lu’s theories will confirm a link of GCR to climate change:

If the South Pole gets an ozone-hole maximum in the coming weeks, it will strengthen the case for cosmic rays, and endorse a Modern Warming driven by solar variations rather than human-emitted CO2.

This is the same logic as assuming that because salt makes food taste better, throwing it behind your shoulder must bring luck. That is, they are just not connected. And I’m pretty sure he won’t accept the logical corollary. Needless to say this is a very feeble grasping at straws. But to quote a recent Monbiot article:

There is no pool so shallow that a thousand bloggers won’t drown in it.

Nor an ozone hole it seems either.

121 Responses to “Ozone holes and cosmic rays”

  1. 1
    Hank Roberts says:

    Tamino’s link’s in a thread that’s gone missing, I’d pointed to:

    I did email the contact link urging them to follow up, pointing out bloggers quoting the prediction as though it were confirmed well after it had failed. My email of late November was to be passed on to their media relations people, last I heard.

    I didn’t bother the scientist to whom the prediction was attributed, knowing press releases are often wrong!

    My interest is to see how their PR people follow up.

  2. 2
    Jim Cross says:

    All of the links to the science of this (pro and con) are to sites requiring subscriptions. Is there something that can be freely accessed?

    Lu’s theory relates only to the ozone, right, not directly to climate change?

    Other than the fact that ozone is atmospheric phenomenon like climate and presumable influenced by human action like climate, is there real connection between ozone and global warming?

  3. 3
    Brian Cockrell says:

    Why is it that one year’s prediction being proved false is enough to discount this theory yet every time some CO2-based global warming prediction proves less than accurate it’s dismissed as insignificant in light of the large body of evidence that CO2-based global warming is real and happening. Now, don’t get me wrong, not taking sides here but it’s posts like this that provide the anti-AGW crowd with loads of ammunition.

    [Response: Actually the difference is quite profound. AGW doesn’t predict what will happen in any one year. Everyone acknowledges that there is unforced variability in the system, and only in the case of very strong forcings (Pinatubo for instance) would you expect that a single year would be predictable. There certainly is some interannual variability in the ozone hole but it is small compared to the trend (esp. in Antarctica). The promoters of this hypothesis clearly thought that the forced signal (through GCR) would be larger than the noise, otherwise they wouldn’t have proffered what they did. – gavin]

  4. 4
    Thomas says:

    Isn’t there supposed to be a non clorine mediated way for GCR to destroy ozone. At least the astronomers and mass extinction types seem to think that a nearby gamma-ray burst or supernova could alter the upper atmosphere enough to destroy enough of the ozone to great an extinction event. I think in this case, the additional ionizing radiation is supposed to generate certain damaging oxides of nitrogen, which destroy ozone. So presumably there is enough of a creation of these oxides to possibly be a problem at large doses (which would be very rare -say 1 over a few hundred million per year). So the question might arise, as the the extrapolation of this effect to minor changes in GCR levels. Would such an effect be of sufficient magnitude to make a detectable impact on ozone?

  5. 5
    Andrew says:

    This year is not exactly an average year by the provided link. It started considerably later but remained at an elevated level for a longer duration compared to other years. Rather strange. Also, while Nov 21 was at a record level, that’d would be cherry picking. Never the less, do the last 3 years levels correspond to the strength of the polar vortex during the same time period?

    Something does seem to be going on with this year.

  6. 6
    James Staples says:

    Hmmmm. After a quick review of the GCR Data (I love the Finns, and their FREE On-Line University Textbooks!), there – as usual – seems to be as much ‘Hot Air’ in the ‘contrarian-worlds’ conjetures, as there would seem to be ‘Water’ in yours.
    Still the Bloggers will be misled; because they do not desire to get off butts and walk to work, or because they just can’t bear the Idea of Life without some Big Carbon Footprint THING; and the OilCo Lackeys will continue to LIE EVER SO SWEETLY TO THEM – like Bad Parents appeasing a screaming BRAT with (yet another too many) piece of Candy.
    Still, Keep The Faith; I’M A BLOGGER – and I gave up my Sweet Tooth for My Mothers Sake. (Mother Earth, that is)
    Someday – hopefully no too far in the future (like, when I get the current Admins. lackeys off MY SSD Dependant back!) – I’ll join the ranks of ‘non-contrarian-worlders’, by getting an Enviro-Sciences PhD, too. (Though I’m not getting any younger!)

  7. 7
    Danny Bloom says:

    Great quote: “To quote a recent Monbiot article: ”There is no pool so shallow that a thousand bloggers won’t drown in it.”

    Long live the Internuts!

  8. 8
    Hank Roberts says:

    Adrian L. Melott, Alex J. Krejci, Brian C. Thomas, Mikhail V. Medvedev, Graham W. Wilson, and Michael J. Murray


    It has been suggested that galactic shock asymmetry induced by our galaxy’s infall toward the Virgo Cluster may be a source of periodicity in cosmic ray exposure as the solar system oscillates normal to the galactic plane, thereby inducing an observed terrestrial periodicity in biodiversity. There are a number of plausible mechanisms by which cosmic rays might affect terrestrial biodiversity. Here we investigate one of these mechanisms, the consequent ionization and dissociation in the atmosphere, resulting in changes in atmospheric chemistry which culminate in the depletion of ozone and a resulting increase in the dangerous solar UVB flux on the ground.

    We estimate the enhancement of cosmic ray intensity for a range of reasonable parameters of the galactic wind and galactic magnetic field, and use these to compute steady-state atmospheric effects. At the lower end of this range, we find that the effects are far too small to be of serious consequence. At the upper end of this range, the level of ozone depletion approaches that currently experienced due to anthropogenic effects such as accumulated chlorofluorocarbons, i.e. 2.1% global average loss of ozone column density….

    ReCaptcha: “an Dobson”

  9. 9
  10. 10
    Chris Colose says:

    #2 Jim Cross

    There’s very little overlap between the two subjects. Stratospheric cooling as a result of excess CO2 does influence ozone recovery, and ozone changes in the troposphere and stratosphere to have effects on radiative balance of the planet. Though global warming would be happening independent of ozone changes.

  11. 11
    jcbmack says:

    Now this is interesting, the most interesting RC post I have seen this year.

  12. 12

    3 Thomas: A nearby supernova would be quite a different thing. The sun only varies by 0.1% and is brightest when there are the most sunspots. Solar X-rays vary by a factor of 100,000, but they are a small part of the sun’s energy. Cosmic rays have very little total energy by comparison. A nearby supernova would make enough gamma rays to sterilize the side of the earth facing the supernova. If the supernova is “over” the equator, life above ground and not deep in the ocean goes extinct that very day. If the supernova is “over” a pole, only one hemisphere is killed directly by radiation. Gamma rays could certainly ionize anything, making quite plausible all sorts of unusual reactions. I don’t know how deep into the ocean the gamma rays would retain killing power. It is clear that the atmosphere would be no barrier. A nearby supernova is something you don’t want to experience because you would be very unlikely to live longer than minutes to a few hours. A nearby supernova would be much brighter than the sun. Of course, that depends on how near. We would like supernovas to be more than 1000 light years away, preferably a lot farther than 1000 light years. We have not had any nearby supernovas, and we are not expecting any, any time soon. If there were one affecting our climate, you would have heard about it from RealClimate.

  13. 13
    Eli Rabett says:

    Gavin, it is difficult to actually keep straight what happens, but to be short about it your

    In the polar night, the presence of PSCs allows for a specific class of heterogeneous Cl reactions to occur on the surface of the cloud particles which turn out to be very efficient at destroying ozone. Hence the presence of an ozone hole in the very cold Antarctic polar vortex. Since PSCs are very sensitive to temperature, cold winter vortex conditions often presage a large ozone depletion the following spring (note that polar ozone depletion only occurs in sunlight and so is a spring time phenomena in both hemispheres).

    Is a bit off. Much (even most) of the chlorine atoms in the stratosphere are normally tied up in ClONO2, the adduct of ClO and NO2, aka a reservoir species, which by itself does not react with ozone. On PSC particles formed in the cold polar night, the ClONO2 molecules dissociate and NO2 is absorbed into the PSC particle, releasing the ClO. This is called de-noxification. If the particles get heavy enough the NOx is removed from the stratosphere by settling out. Thus, chlorine normally tied up in ClONO2 is freed up to react with ozone as ClO and Cl which it does at first light. (There is actually a movie of this which does not appear to work in FireFox :(

    OTOH, to first order this tells you why GCR ideas won’t work. Any additional Cl will quickly be tied up in ClONO2. The amount released in the winter will depend on the temperature in the psc to first order and the GCR dissociation only to second order. If this idea did work, you would see a much bigger effect with the solar cycle as more UV was available to dissociate the CFCs.

    [Response: Thanks. I was trying to keep it simple – but I’m happy to bow down to superior expertise on this. – gavin]

  14. 14

    I looked at a number of years worth of ozone hole animation ( and there does appear to be a relationship between solar minima and ozone hole formation. In particular, compare 1987 and 1996 to 2008. Then look at 2002 and 2003.

    As Andrew said upthread, something does appear to be different this year.

  15. 15
    Alan says:

    Nitpick on skepticisim: Dr Lu is indeed a genuine skeptic since as you point out he is willing to test his ideas. Dr Ball on the other hand does not deserve to be dignified by the term skeptic, “psudeo-skeptic” would be a much more accurate description.

    [Response: Agreed. – gavin]

  16. 16

    #12 Eli: “If the particles get heavy enough the NOx is removed from the stratosphere by settling out. ”

    I would add settling at the center of the vortex (ground zero of of ozone holes), nothing settles well in Vortex Upper Winds upwards of 100 sometimes exceeding 200 knots. The vortex is one huge mixing area.

  17. 17
    Jim Cross says:


    Chris, that’s what I thought too.

    So even if Lu’s theories are right, it doesn’t help the GCR argument and, if they are wrong, it doesn’t hurt it.

  18. 18
    Sekerob says:

    On Tim Ball and Reber, their “You’re Wrong” pages went dead at AOL. Anywhere fresh links, maybe the time machine?

    Really liked these short debunks.

    reCaptcha is scary… there’s the very Benvenuto Cellini playing this minute from the laptop speakers.

  19. 19
    jhm says:

    Excuse this OT interpolation, but will (or has) RC addressed the premise of this post from The Oil Drum:

    An increasing level of acceptance and public support of global warming has been achieved, in part, by the repetition of stories that the world is warming, and that we can anticipate, as a result, that the ice fields of Greenland, the Arctic region as a whole, and Antarctica will melt, causing sea levels to rise dramatically. There is, however, as they say, a slight technical hitch to this concept. Nature is not co-operating, and the predicted events are not occurring with the inexorability that was initially projected….

    [Response: Same old. Cherry pick data, erect and demolish strawman predictions, comfort yourself in self-delusion. Dressing it up as concern for scientists credibility is touching but fundamentally misleading. – gavin]

  20. 20
    William says:

    #14 Furrycatherder
    The study titled “ATMOSPHERIC CONSEQUENCES OF COSMIC RAY VARIABILITY IN THE EXTRAGALACTIC SHOCK MODEL” shows in their figure 3a that there oscillations in the atmospheric O3 column density as a function of time and the oscillations are due to annual and 11 year solar cycles.

    It is also clear that sunspots/solar activity and climate are linked (IPCC Report AR4 1.4.3 “The solar cycle variation in irradiance corresponds to an 11-year cycle in radiative forcing which varies by about 0.2 W m–2. There is increasingly reliable evidence of its influence on atmospheric temperatures and circulations…could cause surface temperature changes of the order of a few tenths of a degree Celsius“.

    What satellites are recording the data to help determine how much GCR’s cause more clouds? Also, wouldn’t having less of a magnetic field allow more GCR’s and then perhaps more clouds?

  21. 21
    Hank Roberts says:
    Why Tim Ball is Wrong (c) 2007 by Barton Paul Levenson

    Nothing for Reber. But I think Barton revived them somewhere.

  22. 22
    Geoff Wexler says:

    Ozone hole and global warming.

    Although they involve quite different science there is a serious link between the issues at policy level.

    “The slowdown in the growth rate of GHG climate forcing from
    the peak in the 1980s is due mainly to the phase-out of CFC
    production. If the 10% per year exponential growth of CFC
    production that existed until the 1970s had continued for several
    more years, the MPTG climate forcing (mostly from CFC-11 and
    CFC-12) now would exceed that of CO2 (15).”

    [Hansen, J. and Sato, M, 2004, Greenhouse gas growth rates, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 101,on line version p.16 109-16 114].

    the second connection is that many of the same anti-environmentalists have been involved in both cases. If the pro-CFC lobby had won they could have done two lots of damage.

  23. 23
    SecularAnimist says:

    gavin wrote: “This is the same logic as assuming that because salt makes food taste better, throwing it behind your shoulder must bring luck.”

    The idea that throwing salt behind your shoulder “brings luck” is just plain silly. Everyone knows that when you spill some salt, you should throw a bit over your shoulder to fend off bad luck, which is an entirely different matter.

  24. 24
    Andrew says:

    All this stuff about NOx settling out reminds me how strange of a climate Antarctica has. Sounds more like something one would expect on a moon of Jupiter than here on earth.

    Lets see, it has the coldest, dryest, highest average elevation and greatest albedo of anyplace. Probably has the thinnest troposphere, fewest frontal systems and least amount of outgoing IR.

    If the place warms at all then it means more snow.

    I can guess that the O3 hole started forming later this year becasue possibly the votex was tighter than normal and the PSC were further south than otherwise. Alternatively, maybe the NOX didn’t fall out like it normally does.

    Dunno for sure.

  25. 25

    Yes, Barton’s page on Reber is here:

    (Reassemble the geo-cities URL before pasting; the word catches in the spam filter here at RC.)

  26. 26

    RE “He also includes standard statements implying that scientists implicated CFCs in ozone depletion to deprive the developing world of refrigeration”

    I think Dr. Ball is grossly overestimating the “sensitivity” of human behavior to ozone-hole or any environmental harm/threat. From what I understand the economically advancing 3rd worlders are snapping up refrigerators pretty fast.

    But I must say that from my readings (I may be wrong) many from poorer countries seem more amenable to addressing AGW & the ozone hole than Americans (no stats on this, just my impression from anecdotal reading).

    RE the post in general, this seems like a new denialist strategy: Try to use any unsubtantiated idea on some other topic not strickly (but round about) related to GW to deny AGW. And if that fails, well at least the focus would have been shifted away from AGW to some other topic.

  27. 27
    jcbmack says:

    Firts kudos to Eli’s response that prett much sums it up without getting to verbally entangled, also the refutuations to Lu’s hytpothesis in the literature indicates a slight, but very minor influence of cosmic rays on ozone depletion which is quickly reversed anyways as chlorine is bound back to chlorine nitrate. There was a record depletion in 2006, but does not correlate well with some kind of cosmic ray ozone depleting trend.

  28. 28
    Hank Roberts says:

    William, you asked
    15 décembre 2008 @ 10:36 AM
    “… how much GCR’s cause more clouds?
    … less of a magnetic field allow more GCR’s and then perhaps more clouds?”

    You’ll get a good start with the references included here:

    ReCaptcha: “recent- e’tude”

    Thankew. Yep, don’t neglect more recent work while looking the studies mentioned; Google Scholar gives a link for doing that.

  29. 29
    Chris Colose says:

    For any of the ozone experts– I’m wondering if anything substantial ever came from the Pope et al. paper last year(reported on at RC) suggesting reduced ability for UV to break apart Cl2O2, much moreso than had been thought?

  30. 30

    #26–Lynn, I agree. This does however point out the lack of cohesiveness to denialist positions that Gavin and others have identified.

    For a great many of these folks, as long as an idea appears to attack the AGW hypothesis (term used without prejudice) it doesn’t matter whether or not it is consistent with anything else they may previously have asserted. Thus, we get things like this: “1) GW isn’t happening; and 2) warming is happening equally on all bodies in the solar system, so the sun must be doing it.” (Naturally, I am condensing and paraphrasing here, but I don’t think I distort.)

    For those of us who are not equipped to parse the science and math in detail, this type of–well, let’s be kind and call it “analysis”–is most helpful in deciding whom to believe. That, and checking the sources before believing assertions.

  31. 31
    ehmoran says:

    AN: GP11A-0709
    AU: Moran, E H
    * Tindall, J A
    AB: Relations between Earth’s magnetic intensity and climatic temperatures were suggested and investigated during the 1970’s and early 1980’s. The strong statistical correlation was dismissed owing to no explanation for the process. However, research shows that the intensity of a material’s magnetic field changes as the material’s temperature changes, thus suggesting that the Earth’s core temperature varies. Additional and more complete global-scale datasets and advanced analytical techniques indicate that global and, to a lesser degree, continental average annual temperatures respond significantly to secular variations of core- generated magnetic intensity. Simple polynomial-regression techniques show that globally-averaged secular variations predict and explain 79-percent of the variability in global average-annual temperatures 7-years in the future; thus suggesting another or additional process contributing to climate change.
    DE: 1616 Climate variability (1635, 3305, 3309, 4215, 4513)
    DE: 3305 Climate change and variability (1616, 1635, 3309, 4215, 4513)
    DE: 6620 Science policy (0485)
    SC: Geomagnetism and Paleomagnetism [GP]
    MN: 2008 Fall Meeting

    [Response: Wow. I will confidently predict that this is based on nothing more than statistical fits of decadal scale periods and that no mechanisms will be apparent. – gavin]

  32. 32
    t_p_hamilton says:

    Chris Colose asks about ClOOCl paper of Pope et al 2007. Here is an interesting idea: the most stable Cl2O2 isomer is actually ClClOO !

    Author(s): Matus MH (Matus, Myrna H.)1, Nguyen MT (Nguyen, Minh T.)1, Dixon DA (Dixon, David A.)1, Peterson KA (Peterson, Kirk A.)2, Francisco JS (Francisco, Joseph S.)3,4
    Source: JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY A Volume: 112 Issue: 40 Pages: 9623-9627 Published: OCT 9 2008
    Times Cited: 0 References: 75 Citation MapCitation Map beta
    Abstract: High level ab initio electronic structure calculations at the coupled cluster level with a correction for triples (CCSD(T)) extrapolated to the complete basis set limit have been made for the thermodynamics of the Cl2O2 isomers: ClClO2, ClOOCl, and ClOClO. The ClClO2 isomer is predicted to be the most stable isomer and is more stable than ClOOCl by 3.1 kcal/mol at 298 K. The ClOClO isomer is less stable than ClOOCl by 8.3 kcal/mol at 298 K. The weakest bond in ClClO2 is the Cl-Cl bond with a bond dissociation energy (BDE) of 24.4 kcal/mol, and the smallest BDE in ClOOCl is the O-O bond with a value of 18.0 kcal/mol. The smallest BDE in ClOClO is for the central O-Cl bond with a BDE of 9.7 kcal/mol. Electronic transitions were calculated with the equations of motion EOM-CCSD method. The calculations clearly demonstrate that singlet states Of ClClO2 absorb to longer wavelengths in the visible than do the singlet states of ClOOCl as does ClOClO.

  33. 33

    “[Response: Same old. Cherry pick data, erect and demolish strawman predictions, comfort yourself in self-delusion. Dressing it up as concern for scientists credibility is touching but fundamentally misleading. – gavin]”

    Well, if you want people to support your scientific theory, perhaps you’d have better luck if the reasons for variations were better presented?

    I’ve said it before, when I talk about “AGW” to people and use the term “Climate Change” or “Climate Chaos”, they are a lot more accepting than “Global Warming”. There are a million homes in New England where people would like a bit of “Global Warming” right about now. It’s 32F where I live, and has been 32F since 2AM this morning when a cold front blasted through. I suspect most of D/FW would like some as well.

    And that’s why people cherry pick.

    [Response: I’m well aware of why people do it. Doesn’t make it any more relevant scientifically. – gavin]

  34. 34
    Paul Harris says:

    Slightly off topic, but not totally and in a good cause: the continuning battle against ‘skeptics’ What occupations/professions would climate scientists accept as falling with the rubric of ‘climate scientist”?

    Captcha appearance it: very Buddhist…all is illusion?

  35. 35
    Jim Cross says:



    I went back and checked that link. I think I had read it when it was originally posted.

    However, I noticed something this time.

    Here’s a direct quote from it:

    “It is possible that GCRs do have an effect on climate through the modulation of clouds, but I don’t think it is very strong.”

    Embedded in the quote is a link to this:

    The link is to an article that in its abstract says:

    “Galactic cosmic ray (GCR) changes have been suggested to affect weather and climate, and new evidence is presented here directly linking GCRs with clouds.”


    “Across the UK, on days of high cosmic ray flux (above 3600×102neutron countsh−1, which occur 87% of the time on average) compared with low cosmic ray flux, the chance of an overcast day increases by (19±4) %”

    Now 20% doesn’t seem insignificant to me.

  36. 36
    Hank Roberts says:

    Yep, and further down
    “… Although the statistically significant nonlinear cosmic ray effect is small …”

    Keep reading the new research, there are more newer links on that page since the last time I looked at it.

  37. 37
    Kevin B says:

    Its nice to see actual science discussed on this site. What I like here was that a testable prediction was made. It may not have came true, but now science can advance. There are some comments about we never predicted this or that on global warming. What are the exact predictions. Can a testable prediction be made like the ozone hole prediction. I realize that it can’t be a short term prediction like that one, but I want some kind of pass/fail criteria stated in easy terms and not a bunch of links to confuse the question.

  38. 38
    ehmoran says:

    Comments to #31 response


    Did you forget who I was??

    Ted Moran

    [Response: Well, I don’t know you. But for such an impressive-sounding claim, I will need substantial evidence to be swayed by it. – gavin]

  39. 39
    Dan says:

    re: 33. Those people in New England and D/FW who are shivering now are experiencing cold *weather* (although note it was an ice storm, not a snow storn, which means there was a warm layer aloft). What has happened in D/FW and New England over the past few days is not really relevant to long-term warming trends which is *climate*. BTW, it was in the balmy *70s* today in NC and Virginia which you conveniently ignored; and yes, that warm *weather* is not relevant to long-term trends either.

    If people do not understand the difference between weather and climate, it does not change any scientific facts re: global warming.

  40. 40
    Figen Mekik says:

    It as been significantly colder and snowier where I live for the last two winters. Doesn’t mean the globe isn’t warming, it means I happen to live in a place where the effects of La Nina are quite strong. I don’t see how calling it climate change instead of global warming would make people more accepting of what is really happening.

  41. 41
    ehmoran says:

    Last summer! Remember article

    Jim and I are presenting our the poster at AGU this year.

    [Response: Oh yes. I also remember the use of at least four sock puppets to support the paper in this thread (please don’t do that again). – gavin]

  42. 42
    Hank Roberts says:

    Is that paper available in full anywhere, for those of us whose basic-rate AGU memberships offer only EOS and Physics Today? Just a curious bystander, but I wondered if there’s anything there about temperature measurement say at deep sea or borehole depths, and whether — and with what kind of time lag– any change in the planet’s deep temperature would be expected to show up at or near the surface.

    Or is there some way heating at the core could jump to the atmosphere without showing up in between?

    Would you expect a surface change like the start or end of an ice age to propagate downward faster, or slower, than a change of core temperature? How much natural variation is there? That kind of thing.

  43. 43
    ehmoran says:

    No paleo data used in the study. But the occurrence of deep ocean warming has been published.

  44. 44
    Hank Roberts says:

    > deep ocean warming

    Can you narrow that down a bit? Perhaps give us at least your reference list, if not the full text?

    Scholar: Results… about 104,000 for deep ocean warming.

  45. 45
    ehmoran says:

    Is that what they’re called!!!

    Well, I appreciate the professionalism, the chance to defend myself, and no personal attacks against us this time.

    Thanks Gavin and thank you Hank for the questions.


  46. 46
    Mark says:

    KevinB, 37.

    Yes, there is a testable theory central to AGW: CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

    Try it.

  47. 47

    In re #33 —

    “[Response: I’m well aware of why people do it. Doesn’t make it any more relevant scientifically. – gavin]”

    Would it be better to change terminology and get people to change their behavior to achieve a desired outcome, or to use a specific term that the scientific community feels is somehow more valid descriptively that alienates people from the desired outcome?

    It’s like how I approach getting people to conserve energy. I can tell them “Global Warming!”, or I can tell them “You’ll save tons of money.” When I explain how to save tons of money, they act.

    I’m a “results” kinda gal.

  48. 48
    pete best says:

    Re #41, So the Earths atmosphere and oceans are warming from either GCR from outer space (and not the Sun although its lack of activity is part of the issue) or from earths inner molten core changing range of activity which makes me think WOW how scientists and others come up with a plethora of other possibilities for why burning fossil fuels is not responsible.

    Just makes you realise that science is a very healthy and active process for everyone who can argue against the cosensus hypothosis just like David Archer stated in his book about how the scientific process unlike any other is set up to shoot the consensus and not to strenghten it, more Nobels that way unless of course the consensus is right. Great book too.

    err, I hope I got that interpretation right of his scientific philosophising in the book.

  49. 49
    Dan says:

    Additional minor but interesting Tid(m)bits.

    These are quotations and not opinions.

    1) In an article in the Western Producer, Ball was quoted as saying
    that CFC’s could not possibly affect the atmosphere because they are
    “heavier than air” and could not rise. I am pleased to say that this
    seems to indicate that one of my children at age 8 also qualified as
    the First and Greatest PhD in Climatology in Canada etc., etc.

    2) Ball was one of three people invited as scientists to testify
    before the 1992 House Standing Committee on Ozone Depletion (Canada).
    I have the official transcripts and the video of this event, (Issue
    No. 35, Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence of the Standing Committee
    on Environment Respecting: Pursuant to Standing Order 108-2,
    Consideration of the Depletion of the Ozone Layer, Third Session of
    the Thirty-fourth Parliament of Canada, 1991-92). Two qualified
    atmospheric chemists gave detailed science seminars explaining of the
    problem with atmospheric ozone depletion. Ball was next, in full
    denial of any problem with CFC’s or the ozone, and refused to discuss
    the actual science, despite repeated requests from Members of
    Parliament (all in the transcripts). (Last year he reiterated this
    view, in an interview with a national paper. The audio of that
    interview is linked here:

    Instead, (based on the offical transcripts and video) he gave a speech
    describing environmental concerns as “crying wolf”, and labeled David
    Suzuki’s discussion of climate issues as “reprehensible”. He then gave
    his version of a short geography lesson. He mentioned the fossil trees
    on Axel Heiberg Island in the Canadian Arctic, and denied that their
    presence indicated a warmer past, claiming instead that when they were
    formed (which was around 40-45 million years ago), this land were near
    the tropics because of continental drift. As you probably know, this
    claim is nonsense. The Canadian arctic land mass was more or less in
    the same place 45 million years ago, and the north did indeed have a
    warm climate then. He (a physical geography professor) might have been
    unclear on continental drift, confusing the time period with
    conditions hundreds of millions of years earlier.

    He ended by expressing his interesting personal (dual) experiences
    with science funding:

    “I gave a two-hour presentation on global warming to graduate students
    and faculty at the University of Alberta. The very first question was
    ‘Is it true you’ve been denied funding by the major funding agencies
    in Canada?’ The answer is no, because I have never asked. The point
    of the question was to assail my credibility. If you are not funded
    by NRC and SSHRC, your research is considered valueless.”

    and then

    “In response to the question, as a historical climatologist – and I
    referred to the fact that I hadn’t got funding from NRC or SSHRC when
    I first applied because I fall in between the cracks. As a
    climatologist, I’m classified as a scientist. When I go to NRC they
    say oh, no, history, that’s SSHRC. You go to SSHRC and they say, oh,
    a historical climatologist. That’s climate, that’s science.”

    At the end of the session, the moderator stood and thanked three
    separate speakers for “two interesting presentations”.

  50. 50
    Geoff Wexler says:


    I have heard about geomagnetic forcing before, but that is all. I don’t understand your post. Perhaps you can classify it?

    Type 1. Greenhouse or aerosol forcing and and cosmic ray conjecture work by modulating existing energy flows, like treading on a hose pipe.

    Type 2. Solar forcing is a varying energy source.

    Is your suggestion type 1 or type 2 ? Each possibility would raises further questions .. but this is not my area.