NASA: Cosmic rays up 19% since last peak – new record high could lead to cooling

In an announcement sure to cause controversy over Svensmark’s theory of cosmic ray to cloud modulation, which is said to be affecting earth’s climate. Svensmark says this is now leading to a global cooling phase. Just a couple of weeks after Svensmark’s bold announcement, NASA has announced that we have hit a new record high in Galactic Cosmic Rays, GCR’s. Apparently, Nature is conducting a grand experiment. – Anthony

Click for larger image - Source: NASA (ACE) spacecraft

Click for larger image - Source: NASA (ACE) spacecraft

From NASA News: Cosmic Rays Hit Space Age High

Planning a trip to Mars? Take plenty of shielding. According to sensors on NASA’s ACE (Advanced Composition Explorer) spacecraft, galactic cosmic rays have just hit a Space Age high.

“In 2009, cosmic ray intensities have increased 19% beyond anything we’ve seen in the past 50 years,” says Richard Mewaldt of Caltech. “The increase is significant, and it could mean we need to re-think how much radiation shielding astronauts take with them on deep-space missions.”

The cause of the surge is solar minimum, a deep lull in solar activity that began around 2007 and continues today. Researchers have long known that cosmic rays go up when solar activity goes down. Right now solar activity is as weak as it has been in modern times, setting the stage for what Mewaldt calls “a perfect storm of cosmic rays.”

“We’re experiencing the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century,” says Dean Pesnell of the Goddard Space Flight Center, “so it is no surprise that cosmic rays are at record levels for the Space Age.”

An artist's concept of the heliosphere

An artist's concept of the heliosphere, a magnetic bubble that partially protects the solar system from cosmic rays. Credit: Richard Mewaldt/Caltech

Galactic cosmic rays come from outside the solar system. They are subatomic particles–mainly protons but also some heavy nuclei–accelerated to almost light speed by distant supernova explosions. Cosmic rays cause “air showers” of secondary particles when they hit Earth’s atmosphere; they pose a health hazard to astronauts; and a single cosmic ray can disable a satellite if it hits an unlucky integrated circuit.

The sun’s magnetic field is our first line of defense against these highly-charged, energetic particles. The entire solar system from Mercury to Pluto and beyond is surrounded by a bubble of solar magnetism called “the heliosphere.” It springs from the sun’s inner magnetic dynamo and is inflated to gargantuan proportions by the solar wind. When a cosmic ray tries to enter the solar system, it must fight through the heliosphere’s outer layers; and if it makes it inside, there is a thicket of magnetic fields waiting to scatter and deflect the intruder.

“At times of low solar activity, this natural shielding is weakened, and more cosmic rays are able to reach the inner solar system,” explains Pesnell.

Mewaldt lists three aspects of the current solar minimum that are combining to create the perfect storm:

  1. The sun’s magnetic field is weak. “There has been a sharp decline in the sun’s interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) down to only 4 nanoTesla (nT) from typical values of 6 to 8 nT,” he says. “This record-low IMF undoubtedly contributes to the record-high cosmic ray fluxes.”
  2. Graphical 3D representation of the heliospheric current sheet The heliospheric current sheet is shaped like a ballerina’s skirt. Credit: J. R. Jokipii, University of Arizona

    › Larger image

  3. The solar wind is flagging. “Measurements by the Ulysses spacecraft show that solar wind pressure is at a 50-year low,” he continues, “so the magnetic bubble that protects the solar system is not being inflated as much as usual.” A smaller bubble gives cosmic rays a shorter-shot into the solar system. Once a cosmic ray enters the solar system, it must “swim upstream” against the solar wind. Solar wind speeds have dropped to very low levels in 2008 and 2009, making it easier than usual for a cosmic ray to proceed.
  4. The current sheet is flattening. Imagine the sun wearing a ballerina’s skirt as wide as the entire solar system with an electrical current flowing along the wavy folds. That is the “heliospheric current sheet,” a vast transition zone where the polarity of the sun’s magnetic field changes from plus (north) to minus (south). The current sheet is important because cosmic rays tend to be guided by its folds. Lately, the current sheet has been flattening itself out, allowing cosmic rays more direct access to the inner solar system.

“If the flattening continues as it has in previous solar minima, we could see cosmic ray fluxes jump all the way to 30% above previous Space Age highs,” predicts Mewaldt.

Earth is in no great peril from the extra cosmic rays. The planet’s atmosphere and magnetic field combine to form a formidable shield against space radiation, protecting humans on the surface. Indeed, we’ve weathered storms much worse than this. Hundreds of years ago, cosmic ray fluxes were at least 200% higher than they are now. Researchers know this because when cosmic rays hit the atmosphere, they produce an isotope of beryllium, 10Be, which is preserved in polar ice. By examining ice cores, it is possible to estimate cosmic ray fluxes more than a thousand years into the past. Even with the recent surge, cosmic rays today are much weaker than they have been at times in the past millennium.

“The space era has so far experienced a time of relatively low cosmic ray activity,” says Mewaldt. “We may now be returning to levels typical of past centuries.”

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Mark

It is not only the peak level that is important but also the duration of the peak . . . . and we’re seeing a lot of duration!!

These new measurements complete the picture that I made about four years ago:
http://www.biocab.org/ICR_and_Temperature_Histogram.jpg
Interesting!

Jeremy

Unfortunately it would be much more useful to this argument (either way you see it) if that graph on GCE’s extended back into the 1990s. As it stands now, hard to say what it correlates to.

Fred Harwood

Might this be an opportunity for comment on the earth’s weakening MF and such?

John Silver

Antarctic sea ice extent also just hit a record high. Correlation is not necessarily causation, but it’s there, none the less.

Ron de Haan

Just help me out here!
What did David Archibald say about cosmic ray levels?
Nature is conducting a grand experiment and we have the front seat row watching it.
Great times.

Mark

“Unfortunately it would be much more useful to this argument (either way you see it) if that graph on GCE’s extended back into the 1990s. As it stands now, hard to say what it correlates to.”
Check out:
http://cosmicrays.oulu.fi/
They’ve got data back to 1964!

I look forward too, to results from the CLOUD experiment at CERN…
http://public.web.cern.ch/Public/en/Research/CLOUD-en.html

David Ermer

News Flash: Everything goes pear shaped in the AGW camp. Popcorn available in the lobby.

tarpon

High since when? LOL we often forget how old the earth really is.
It’s the first time we have had instruments that can read the cosmic rays, this whole sun cycle falls into that magnificent category, scientists everywhere should be celebrating what we can see, and learn. It is fascinating what science nature has chose to display for our watchful eyes.
It’s a great time …

Gene Nemetz

“Svensmark’s theory of cosmic ray to cloud modulation,”
A four minute video synopsis of that :

RW

So, this ultra-deep solar minimum and its incredible effect on temperatures… The confusing thing is that the global average temperature from 2004-2008 is slightly higher than the global average temperature of 1999-2003, which was over the solar maximum. Puzzling, eh?

Gene Nemetz

For those who have missed this video, which has been posted several times here at WattsUpWithThat, here is a 50 minute documentary in 5 parts at YouTube giving more detail of Henrik Svensmark’s theory.
Henrik Svensmark is in much of the documentary.

kurt

The article states that “hundreds” of years ago, cosmic ray flux was twice what it is today. Does anyone know offhand the actual dates and whether this coincided with the Little Ice Age? I would guess so, just because of the very deep solar minimum we know occurred at the time which should have caused a steep increase in cosmic rays. The quotation is vague on this point, however.

Jeff L

Does anyone know what the lag time between Nuetron count & effect on temps should be according to Svensmark?
Anyone have a link to data / graphs to show?
Anyone have a link to data / graph of Be10 data – plotted with re-constructured temperature data?

Robert Wood

Hundreds of years ago, cosmic ray fluxes were at least 200% higher than they are now
And just what were global temperatures like those “hundreds of years ago”?

Graeme Rodaughan

“…. it is 90% certain that this Unprecendented Crisis of Increasing Cosmic Radiation is due to Human Industrial Activity and Human reliance on Fossil Fuels….”
“…. Cosmic Rays fried all my Chickens eggs….”
“…. Dangerous Cosmic Rays are a threat to Polar Habitats and could well cause the extinction of the Polar Bear…”
“…. Giving access to cheap energy to humans has caused a machine-gun like increase in shooting Cosmic Rays striking the Earth…”
“…. Increasing Cosmic Rays due to Human Activity will cause the Oceans to Acidify and fish populations to die out…”
“…. Increasing Cosmic Rays will cause increased desertification that will accelerate mass starvation….”
“…. Increasing Cosmic Rays will cause increased flooding that will accelerate mass starvation….”
“…. In the future, only a small number of human “breeding pairs” will survive in Caves, out of reach of dangerous levels of Cosmic Radiation…”
“…. Permanently increased Cosmic Ray Levels will cause migrating birds to lose their sense of direction. The birds will dies out, and the insects that they eat will increase into plagues that devastate Human crop production…”
“…. Increased use by Humans of easily accessible fossil fuel resources will cause a Cosmic Ray Tipping point to be reached that causes Cosmic Rays to increase exponentially until all life is wiped from the surface of the Earth. This is known as the – Microwave Effect – …”
“…. Al Gores new Scientific Documentary – An Inconvenient Ray – has been mandated from classrooms across the nation…”
“…. The fringe of mediocre scientific dinosaurs and Internet Bloggers still clings to the belief that variation in Cosmic Rays is driven by natural forces such as the Sun…”
“…. It is well known that Fossil Fuel Industry Groups are funding Cosmic Ray Mis-Information Campaigns in an effort to divert attention away from their criminal use and purveyance of fossil fuels…”
“…. Only a Global Governance Solution can solve a global crisis of such unprecendented proportions as the Human Induced Microwave Effect (HIME)…”
“…. It has been deemed that a global tax on human energy use will be used to fund the creation of a transnational United Nations Organisation to ensure that the World Economy is shifted to safe forms of Energy and that the Catastrophy of the Human Induced Microwave Effect is averted…”
/parody off

Robert Wood

Hell, I got paid today. I think I’ll tip Anthony!

MattN

I could have sworn Leif said the counts were dropping months ago….

Robert Wood

tarpon (16:24:14) :
It’s a great time …
Agreed Tarpon. But there are those that wish ill for mankind; for those others but not themselves.

RW (16:42:29) :
So, this ultra-deep solar minimum

It isn’t an ‘ultra-deep’ minimum, it’s a normal depth minimum of longer duration than normal.

Frank Miles

hi, as far as i can tell various papers suggest that high be levels and low temps , high cosmic rays and solar minimums are suggested from at least the dome fuji ice core sample: Ice core record of 10be over the past millenium from Dome fuji, Antartica: A new proxyrecord of past solar actvity and a powerful tool for sstratigraphic dating

George E. Smith

Well it might also be interesting to follow what happens with ozone holes to see if higher levels of cosmic rays striking the earth lead to more ozone manufacture.
Ozone holes have fluctuated for eons and the sun’s effective color temperature has varied as a result of the short wave solar spectrum changes resulting from ozoner holes (ground level insolation).
Well we shall see. I think we have a race between Gaia, and Obama to see who can destroy the most first.

Don B

Jeff L-
Look on page 3 for graphs of Be10, C14, and temperature proxies back through the Little Ice Age.
http://aps.arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0804/0804.1938v1.pdf

SteveSadlov

I think we are seeing the start of the truly troubling effects. Look at the current hemispheric pattern in the NH. Way out of whack. Winter will start soon.

Tilo Reber

RW:
“The confusing thing is that the global average temperature from 2004-2008 is slightly higher than the global average temperature of 1999-2003,”
Which data set are you using?

As much as I dislike the AGW scare, if cooling comes it will be bad. I don’t fear warming, but I do fear cooling.
If carbon dioxide really did have a measureable effect on climate to warm, I’d be advocating increased carbon emissions. But I don’t think it does.
Cooling is nothing to cheer about.

Mike O

I’m guessing that we’ll see a lag between the minimum we are seeing now and colder temperatures. This is due to the heat stored in the oceans. Temps have come down but are still above average. That won’t continue. The cooling will continue for some years after the Sun wakes back up.
Just my thoughts on this …

Don B

MattN–
I believe Leif wrote that the Oulu count appeared to have peaked in May, which was accurate at the time.
On the other hand, he also said on one thread, approximately, that the peak GCR at each solar minimum was about the same, because the solar (sunspot?) level couldn’t go below zero. ..must have been a typo. This is in stark contrast to the NASA announcement musing that the GCR count could go 30% above previous peaks.
From Oulo
http://cosmicrays.oulu.fi/webform/query.cgi?startdate=1964/01/01&starttime=01:00&enddate=2009/09/29&endtime=21:00&resolution=0&picture=on

Layne Blanchard

RW (16:42:29) :
So, this ultra-deep solar minimum and its incredible effect on temperatures… The confusing thing is that the global average temperature from 2004-2008 is slightly higher than the global average temperature of 1999-2003, which was over the solar maximum. Puzzling, eh?
Certainly worthy of note. Some theorize the effects of minimum (or maximum) have more to do with (transmitted energy) area under the curve over a decade or more (slowly increasing or diminishing ocean heat content) before the effect becomes evident. Perhaps we’ll get an opportunity to find out.

The direction of the solar system’s bow shock is presumably in the vicinity of the direction of Galactic rotation — not aligned with the plane of the solar system as the “Richard Mewaldt/Caltech” artwork misleadingly implies. The angular inclination of the solar plane (the ecliptic) to the Galactic plane is ~60 degrees.
This inspires an interesting question: Does the cosmic ray influx have an apex in in the Northern Hemisphere? Or are the rays so stirred up by the heliospheric currents that they have no directional bias by the time they reach earth?

Michael

Is NASA going to fix their recent climate data mistake? Or how about this 1.9 billion dollar boondoggle. I don’ know how the MSM missed this one too. The comments are precious.
NASA’s Carbon Satellite Fails, See Video of Launch
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/02/launchfailure/

MattB

Speaking of the Heliosphere the IBEX team is expecting to release it’s first findings in the middle of October.
http://www.ibex.swri.edu/

Tilo Reber

I ran a trend line through the sunspot record last year and it yeilded the same basic conclusion that is referenced in the Svensmark film clip. Namely that solar activity had doubled over the last hundred years. Here is a link to my graph.
http://reallyrealclimate.blogspot.com/2008/07/20th-century-sunspot-trend.html
I have to believe the scientific community when they say that there is not enough change in TSI to explain global warming. But the long term correlations between sunspot activity and global temperature is simply too good to be an accident. The Svensmark theory explains why it is not an accident. I’m extremely confident that when they run the experiments at CERN next year that Svensmark will be proven correct. The big question is which do we get first, crushing climate legislation or the CERN results. I feel certain that after the CERN results the game will be over.

Back2Bat

Cloudy
The sky is gray and white and cloudy,
Sometimes I think it’s hanging down on me.
And it’s a hitchhike a hundred miles.
I’m a rag-a-muffin child.
Pointed finger-painted smile.
I left my shadow waiting down the road for me a while.
Cloudy
My thoughts are scattered and they’re cloudy,
They have no borders, no boundaries.
They echo and they swell
From Tolstoi to Tinker Bell.
Down from Berkeley to Carmel.
Got some pictures in my pocket and a lot of time to kill.
Hey sunshine
I haven’t seen you in a long time.
Why don’t you show your face and bend my mind?
These clouds stick to the sky
Like floating questions, why?
And they linger there to die.
They don’t know where they are going, and, my friend, neither do I.
Cloudy,
Cloudy.
Paul Simon from http://www.risa.co.uk/sla/song.php?songid=15430

rbateman

Uh huh, like Svensmark said, ” Enjoy your Global Warming while it lasts”.
Limited time offer, expires when the lag catches up with us, which it surely will.
If you thought there was a bit of consternation last winter, wait ’till they get a load of the Northern winter. There wasn’t a record-low melt season in the Arctic this year just because and no other reason.
NASA is right to put up the orange flags. Someone has to step up to the plate. Darn warmistas won’t do it. Media is out to lunch on this.
3 full years of very low solar activity.

Gene Nemetz (16:49:34) had just the first of the parts of Svensmark’s video on cosmic rays & cloud formation embedded on his comment. Some months back I posted all five videos in one place on my blog….
http://algorelied.com/?p=2423
Fascinating stuff, and here’s a great quote by Svensmark from the video:

“Instead of thinking of clouds as a result of the climate, it’s actually showing that the climate is a result of the clouds, because the clouds take their orders from the stars.”

Cassandra King

If anyone has any spare investment cash laying around, buy into coal stocks.

Leif
I’m confused. On September 17th in comments on this thread:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/09/17/ncar-number-of-sunspots-provides-an-incomplete-measure-of-changes-in-the-suns-impact-on-earth/#comments
you wrote:
“Except that the cosmic ray intensity has not shown any long-term variation since modern measurements started in the early 1950s.”
and:
“The various records from dozens of cosmic ray observatories, e.g. http://www.leif.org/research/thule-cosmic-rays.png
http://www.leif.org/research/Moscow-1958-now.gif
http://www.leif.org/research/CosmicRayFlux.png
http://www.puk.ac.za/fakulteite/natuur/nm_data/data/nmd_e.html
etc, etc. Note that there are small differences between various CR stations.”
Your statement above seems incongruent with the statement by Richard Mewaldt of Caltech that “In 2009, cosmic ray intensities have increased 19% beyond anything we’ve seen in the past 50 years”
What is the basis for this difference in opinions? Is it a question of what a “long-term variation” is? Is there a significant difference between the data sources, e.g. space versus ground based GCR measurements systems? Interpretation? Otherwise?

savethesharks

RW (16:42:29) : “So, this ultra-deep solar minimum and its incredible effect on temperatures… The confusing thing is that the global average temperature from 2004-2008 is slightly higher than the global average temperature of 1999-2003, which was over the solar maximum.
Puzzling, eh?”

No….the confusing thing is that you are making much ado about nothing…in two arenas and in one sentence: i) The unanswered questions of solar variability on Earth’s climate, and ii) temperature swings.
Notwithstanding as to how much or how little solar variability forces Earth’s climate [I will leave that debate to the Titans], your global temperature juxtapositions are just not that significant.
Here’s a better perspective:
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/__VkzVMn3cHA/SQkAxK2k6CI/AAAAAAAAADs/F4NlhqTzFgM/s1600-h/U+11+Year+Temp+Data.bmp
Boring! (Yeah I see the GISS outlier trying to uptrend….but give me a break its the GISS).
Much ado about nothing.
Chris
Norfolk, VA, USA

sol luvr

RW (16:42:29) :
So, this ultra-deep solar minimum and its incredible effect on temperatures… The confusing thing is that the global average temperature from 2004-2008 is slightly higher than the global average temperature of 1999-2003, which was over the solar maximum. Puzzling, eh?
The current solar minima didn’t start until 2006.
Cherry pick your intervals more wisely, please.

savethesharks

John A (18:26:22) : “If carbon dioxide really did have a measureable effect on climate to warm, I’d be advocating increased carbon emissions. But I don’t think it does.”
Spot on. Fear the cold, not the warm.
Chris
Norfolk, VA, USA

bill

Alma Ata station corrected for pressure 6 houly records no such peak:
http://img10.imageshack.us/img10/4348/cosmicrayalmaata.gif
5 more monitors show no overshoot:
Tsumeb, Namibia, monthly averages [12KB]
Potchefstroom, South Africa, monthly averages [11KB]
Hermanus, South Africa, monthly averages [13KB]
NM64, SANAE, Antarctica, monthly averages [14KB]
4NMD, SANAE, Antarctica, monthly averages [14KB]
http://img25.imageshack.us/img25/1/srugraph1.jpg

gtrip

A bit off topic here; but has anyone been banned from climate progress as I have apparently been? My post never goes through.
The way they do things there is practically communistic. And Time magazine gives them kudos….go figure.
This is what we will have to put up with even if the climate change bill fails. they will continue to press this issue until the people throw up their arms and say enough already/
How do we stop this? Science doesn’t seem to have the answer. Do we have to take up arms??? What do you all think?

Frederick Michael

Phil. (17:31:18) :
It isn’t an ‘ultra-deep’ minimum, it’s a normal depth minimum of longer duration than normal.

It looks a lot deeper to me.
http://sidc.oma.be/html/wolfmms.html

bill

bill (20:02:53) :
Hmm! the heading plot shows only data back to 1999 with a blue line maximum of unknown year.
The plots I retreived contain a number of solarcycles
The current level is similar to peaks in 1965 or 1987 so not necessarily comparing like with like!

philincalifornia

Well, I went over to ClimateAudit to see if they were trying to deal with the Piltdown Man the Second situation, but I guess they’re still tied up trying to rebut Lindzens negative feedback papers, or whatever.
I did find this link though. Friends should not let friends have blogs like this:
http://desdemonadespair.blogspot.com/2009/09/two-meter-sea-level-rise-unstoppable.html

LarryD

“…On the other hand, he also said on one thread, approximately, that the peak GCR at each solar minimum was about the same, because the solar (sunspot?) level couldn’t go below zero”
Leif may have forgotten that sunspots are only an indicator of certain aspects of solar activity, just because they can’t go below zero doesn’t mean other phenomena also connected to solar activity have reached their limit.
This is the first time we’ve had the instramentation to analyze so throughly such a deep and extended minimum, there is much to learn.

RW (16:42:29) :
So, this ultra-deep solar minimum and its incredible effect on temperatures… The confusing thing is that the global average temperature from 2004-2008 is slightly higher than the global average temperature of 1999-2003, which was over the solar maximum. Puzzling, eh?

Avg. Annual Rate of Sea Level Rise (CU Topex/Jason)
Jan 1999 to Dec 2003: 2.6mm/yr
Jan 2004 to May 2009 : 1.5mm/yr
The 60-unit (~5-yr) moving average of the CU Sea Level curve is essentially flat since 2006… CU Sea Level
The oceans are cooling along with the increase in GCR’s and low cloud cover… Land temp’s followed.
GCR’s started to climb in 2001… Ocean temperatures started to fall in 2003, followed by SH land temp’s in 2005 and NH land temp’s in 2007… UAH LT

noaaprogrammer

SteveSadlov wrote :
“… Look at the current hemispheric pattern in the NH. Way out of whack. Winter will start soon.”
With the usual weather-is-not-climate caveat, let me say that the onset of cooler weather this year in Pacific Northwest is about 2 weeks earlier than normal. Predictions for this weekend are for 1″-4″ of snow above 4,000 feet and 4″-6″ above 5,000 feet.