Solar news: Forbush decrease in progress

The definition at Wikipedia:

A Forbush decrease is a rapid decrease in the observed galactic cosmic ray intensity following a coronal mass ejection (CME). It occurs due to the magnetic field of the plasma solar wind sweeping some of the galactic cosmic rays away from Earth.

Well we have that going on in a dramatic way right now, it’s been going on since late yesterday. See the Oulu neutron monitor (a proxy for cosmic rays) graph:

That’s a screencap, you can monitor it live on the WUWT solar page here.

The term Forbush decrease was named after the American physicist Scott E. Forbush, who studied cosmic rays in the 1930s and 1940s.

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Robert of Ottawa

How is cloud formation?

Stephan

Global Temps should go up? (as middle height tropical clouds do not form droplets see svensmark). Interesting to record the time it takes…

Sean Houlihane

Can’t wait to see how the layman’s count pans out over the next few months if activity stays at normal mid-cycle levels.

Richard Sharpe

Robert of Ottawa says on February 19, 2011 at 9:23 am

How is cloud formation?

And it is a pity we do not have any data on cosmic ray levels back during that huge flooding in CA in the 1800’s …

Mr. Alex

Sean Houlihane says:
February 19, 2011 at 9:38 am
Can’t wait to see how the layman’s count pans out over the next few months if activity stays at normal mid-cycle levels.
“Normal mid-cycle levels”… for a grand minimum ;-).

Richard Sharpe says: February 19, 2011 at 9:38 am
And it is a pity we do not have any data on cosmic ray levels back during that huge flooding in CA in the 1800′s …
You can try this, but I wouldn’t guaranty its accuracy.
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/10Be.htm

Jim G

How is the neutron count a proxy for cosmic rays which are 90% protons? Not dismissing the info, only asking due to lack of deeper knowledge.
Thanks,
Jim

A great natural experiment in tropical ocean cloud cover is underway. I can’t wait for the results.

DJ

Was wondering too if someone is in the position to track the correlation between cosmic rays/clouds/temps, since we have a sudden and notable change in a variable.
How long does a Forbush typically last?

Jim G says: February 19, 2011 at 10:45 am
…………
http://www.williamson-labs.com/images/muon_diag_a_for_web.jpg

Caherine

Sorry for this in snow cover their fields will not be good??
Means it is time to turn your fields the good radiation will help kill the bact in the soil for spring planting
Catherine
Get ready for a early winter

Jim G

vukcevic says: February 19, 2011 at 11:10 amJim G says: February 19, 2011 at 10:45 am
…………
http://www.williamson-labs.com/images/muon_diag_a_for_web.jpg
Thanks, should have figured that one out. I assume that other neutrons not generated by atmosphere collisions are considered constant or of lower energy and therefore the good proxy?

Recommend the following:
http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/svensmark-forebush.pdf
Looks like we’ve got 5 days to see the clouds decrease for a week.
What category of science does this come under if Svensmark’s “prediction” comes through?
Max

Schrodinger's Cat

Jim G
I’m no expert, but the solar wind is mainly protons (hydrogen plasma: hydrogen with the electron stripped off by the high temperature) and the cosmic rays are neutrons from neutron stars. The former stream from the sun and prevent the latter, from deep space, from helping to seed cloud formation.

Richard deSousa

Albedo should decrease due to decrease in cloud cover?

DocMartyn

Outside the nucleus, free neutrons are unstable and have a mean lifetime of 14 minutes and 46 seconds. This is why we don’t have a build up of neutrons at the center of planets, as would be the case if natural radioactive decay generated neutrons.

jorgekafkazar

Max Hugoson says: “…What category of science does this come under if Svensmark’s “prediction” comes through?”
data?

Jim G

DocMartyn says:
February 19, 2011 at 12:22 pm
“Outside the nucleus, free neutrons are unstable and have a mean lifetime of 14 minutes and 46 seconds. This is why we don’t have a build up of neutrons at the center of planets, as would be the case if natural radioactive decay generated neutrons.”
Read somewhere that there is a solar neutron component to Earth’s received solar wind which it would seem would take more than 14 min to get here as they do have mass. I was not aware that neutrons “decayed”, into what, quarks? Thought those things were glued together better than that. If I recall, it takes several feet of concrete to absorb/stop neutrons from a nuclear blast so I would figure they would not “build up” from radioactive decay deep in the Earth but would be absorbed by the surrounding material creating isotopes. Don’t know enough in this area to be authoritative but long ago in the stone age when I took physics natural radioactive decay did produce neutrons which is why there is such a thing as critical mass for atomic fission.

You guys realize that the cloud data (amount of cloud cover) DEPENDS upon radiative transfer equations. That is, the raw sensor inputs are ‘transformed’ by a physics model of radiative transfer. the same physics that gets used in GCMs.
Makes for an interesting epistemological quandry.

steven mosher says: February 19, 2011 at 1:34 pm
Makes for an interesting epistemological quandry.
( ? ! )
Primary sources of the Cosmic rays isotopes deposition data are not sufficiently reliable to be taken as a dependable metric. In addition the cloud coverage varies only by about + – 1.5 – 2% at its extremes, so the effect on albedo changes is indeterminable.
Svensmark’s hypothesis and the Livingston & Pen effect are elegant but misleading concepts, sooner the sceptic blogs community realises that the better, since neither is going to produce the expected results .

bob paglee

Will Dr. Svendsmark’s theory be vindicated if there is a rise in Earth’s temperature because, if there are fewer cosmic rays penetrating the atmosphere, maybe fewer clouds are being seeded?

DocMartyn

neutrons decay into electrons, protons and electron antineutrino
Wiki has the very nice Feynman diagram here
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/89/Beta_Negative_Decay.svg
the W boson was unambiguous viewed in January 1983 during a series of experiments conducted by Carlo Rubbia and Simon van der Meer, Rubbia and van der Meer were promptly awarded the 1984 Nobel Prize in Physics; a bit of a record for Physics, paper and Nobel prize in a year.

Robert of Ottawa

Steve Mosher, I don’t understand what you are saying. I would very much like you to explain how the “cloud cover” data is transformed, or point to a link.
Personally, I would have thought that one simply had to count the white pixels in a geostationary satellite view of the planet. The only major adjustment would be to make an additional allowance for semi-translucent clouds, which would be a multiplication by some T factor. These could be detected by a “paleness” wrt adjacent, clear, areas.

Brian H

RoO;
Yeah, there’s also the lunar reflectance measures (Earthshine–albedo), etc.
vuk;
a 1-2% change in cloud cover has more thermal impact than even the outlier estimates of CO2 GHG effects.

ferdberple

SVENSMARK ET AL provide a mechanism for falsification which is generally missing in a mainstream climate science. If they are wrong, at least we have a means to confirm they are wrong. We don’t end up with the BS we are hearing right now, that more CO2 leads to warming, cooling, less snow, more snow. Good spot Max.
Max Hugoson says:
February 19, 2011 at 11:31 am
Recommend the following:
http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/svensmark-forebush.pdf
X – 2 SVENSMARK ET AL.: COSMIC RAY VARIATIONS AFFECT THE EARTHS AEROSOLS
Close passages of coronal mass ejections from the sun are signaled at the
Earth’s surface by Forbush decreases in cosmic ray counts. We find that low
clouds contain less liquid water following Forbush decreases, and for the most
influential events the liquid water in the oceanic atmosphere can diminish
by as much as 7%. Cloud water content as gauged by the Special Sensor Mi-
crowave/Imager (SSM/I) reaches a minimum ¼7 days after the Forbush min-
imum in cosmic rays, and so does the fraction of low clouds seen by the Mod-
erate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and in the Interna-
tional Satellite Cloud Climate Project (ISCCP). Parallel observations by the
aerosol robotic network AERONET reveal falls in the relative abundance of
fine aerosol particles which, in normal circumstances, could have evolved into
cloud condensation nuclei. Thus a link between the sun, cosmic rays, aerosols,
and liquid-water clouds appears to exist on a global scale.

DirkH

It’s all for Bush?
(Sorry, couldn’t resist)

What we really need is to observe cloud cover change over oceanic regions where aerosols from land are mostly absent.

Baa Humbug

I have a different view.
Assuming this Forbush decrease leads to less cloud cover. But it doesn’t stop evaporation does it? If anything, less cloud cover should lead to more evaporation.
So now we have lots of H2O in the atmosphere which hasn’t condensed into clouds.
The effects of this solar flare will subside in a few days. Then what? I would expect a sudden increase in cloud cover due to the extra water molecules in the atmosphere leading to some extreme weather by the end of the month.
Get your snow shovels ready in the Northern Hemisphere while I’ll get ready for some more floods here in Queensland.

I wouldn’t expect a rise in temp because of all the coincident melting snow and evaporation, but maybe a slight rise in sea surface temp and humidity.

Theo Goodwin

jorgekafkazar says:
February 19, 2011 at 12:36 pm
Max Hugoson says: “…What category of science does this come under if Svensmark’s “prediction” comes through?”
“data?”
If the predicted events occur then Svensmark will have PREDICTED data points from the combination of a set of PHYSICAL HYPOTHESES and INITIAL CONDITIONS which CONFIRM (to some degree, of course) the physical hypotheses. So, you now have data points that have been predicted and that serve to confirm hypotheses. For the first time in climate science, beyond the CO2 hypotheses from the 19th century, you have A GENUINE CONFIRMATION OF A GENUINE PREDICTION. The data points count as both prediction and confirmation.

Patvann

IMHO, If this sort of this thing (cosmic-ray-reduction) has any effect at all on cloud-cover, this short-lived anomaly will not be able to be detected. The values will bounce back up just as quickly as they dropped, and any effect will be lost in the noise.

PandR

Anecdotal evidence. Here in a remote corner of Indonesia, the clouds vanished a few days ago, the rains (it’s the wet season) have suddenly stopped, and it’s much hotter exercising outside. Humidity has dropped, dramatically, and the surf has gotten dangerous (don’t ask me how that fits, it’s not windy either). The difference from the last month is absolutely remarkable. Note, this is one single personal observation and it is not outside normal weather variation. But go Svensmark!
Anyone else anywhere else?

AusieDan

steven mosher said on February 19, 2011 at 1:34 pm
You guys realize that the cloud data (amount of cloud cover) DEPENDS upon radiative transfer equations. That is, the raw sensor inputs are ‘transformed’ by a physics model of radiative transfer. the same physics that gets used in GCMs.
Makes for an interesting epistemological quandry.
UNQUOTE
Steve – does the fact that a certain accepted law of physics is used in a certain computer program prove that the output of that program will be the revealed truth?
OR does
CORRECT LAW of PHYSICS + A LOT of GARBAGE still EQUAL GARBAGE OUT?
particularly if the inputs are manipulated in ways that do not, completely, mimic reality?

Baa Humbug

PandR says:
February 19, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Anecdotal evidence. Here in a remote corner of Indonesia….

It’s worse than anectodal, it’s drawing a long bow whilst clutching at straws.
Tropical cyclones to the south and south west of you would explain most of your observations.
But fear not, your wet season will be back with a vengeance soon 🙂

Darren Parker

don’t forget though, the GCR background is not constant – it varies depending on our location in the galaxy and increases as we pass through the galactic plane and decreases as we move away from it. And even at the speed of light these effects have a lag – so don’t just expect to see a drop in cloud formation overnight

Power Grab

PandR says:
February 19, 2011 at 6:28 pm
Anecdotal evidence. Here in a remote corner of Indonesia, the clouds vanished a few days ago, the rains (it’s the wet season) have suddenly stopped, and it’s much hotter exercising outside. Humidity has dropped, dramatically, and the surf has gotten dangerous (don’t ask me how that fits, it’s not windy either). The difference from the last month is absolutely remarkable. Note, this is one single personal observation and it is not outside normal weather variation. But go Svensmark!
Anyone else anywhere else?
======================================
Just another anecdote, but here in Oklahoma we had blizzards each of the two first weeks of February. IIRC we had a new statewide record low of -31 around the 9th. Then this week (starting with a high of 70F on Sunday, the 13th), we ended up with a new record high temp (81F or thereabouts) on the 16th – just one week after the new record low was logged!
According to the graphs I have saved off of Spaceweather.com, the first M-level solar flares were on 2-8-11 and 2-9-11 after a long period of low levels. Then we had those X-level flares. Some of those emissions take about 3 days to reach Earth, right? Just sayin’….

While we’re on the subject of anecdotal evidence, suddenly the skies in Kamloops BC have turned clear and it was a beautiful sunny day today albeit cold with my jeep thermometer reading 12 F when I left for work this morning. After despairing of seeing any auroras with seemingly endless overcast days, finally it’s clear enough that I can head outside now and see the effects of the recent CME’s on the earth’s atmosphere which I assume will be visible at a latitude of 50 N.
I know, the clearing of the skies is probably pure coincidence, but it feels like Gaia is trying to tell the people of the world to ignore CO2 and look for the cosmic influences on climate which dwarf anything that we’re capable of now. Another shot of Jagermeister and I’ll be adequately prepared for winter stargazing.

Boris,
Ms Gaia is right as always. Hoist that shot of Jagermeister, and carry on.
You da man!

I predict a corresponding decrease in volcanic plumes coming. Confusing the whole deal.

Philip T. Downman

Can someone explain this to me?
The neutrons as said is a proxy. What is their origin? The Sun? Secondary radiation due to direct nuclear hits by primary cosmic particles?They have a relatively short half life, but in spite of time compression most of them might have decayed into protons and electrons (mainly) during their travel from some distant cataclysm. So hardly they have a direct cosmic origin?
Neutrons don’t cause much ionisation either? Heavy ionized particles – mainly alpha particles but also protons have a high Linear Energy Transfer – LET, leaving heavy traces of ionisation and secondary radiation that might trigger precipitation in water vapour, that is supposed to be the mechanism of cloud formation.

AusieDan
So you accept Radiative transfer equations?

OK, looks like folks are being anecdotal… so….
Here on the Loony Left Coast of California we’ve had more or less steady rain for days. I’m sick of it. So today it’s just stopped. We’ll see what tomorrow brings, but it’s been a while since I’ve stepped out the front door and not had rain on my head. I like it 😉
FWIW, I’d also expect that a day or three after the Forbush even ends, we get a boat load of rain again…
Oh, and a couple of days ago the fire alarm at school ‘went off’ without anyone activating it. The fire trucks got sent home with a “not us”… there were also a few more computer problems than usual. Looks to me it was just about the start day of the event.

Brian H
and
aaron

I started looking into the climate events less than two years ago, and found important correlation as shown here:
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/GeoMagField.gif
Considering that the cosmic rays impact is greatest at the magnetic poles, and it is modulated by the strength of geomagnetic field, in far greater measure than the sunspot cycles (100:1 magnetic field strength ratio), than the Svensmark’s hypothesis would be an appropriate solution to my correlation.
However a closer look at the polar areas shows that albedo in the winter doesn’t matter much, and clouds, as vapour is GH gas, would actually work in opposite direction to the Sv’s idea. In the summer months ice covered area has greater albedo than clouds, so clouds effect is only albedo-efficient over the ice/snow free areas.
Albedo effect is greatest in the tropical ad subtropical areas, but there the neutron count impacts drop to about 30% of the polar, e.g. 1500+ against 4700.
Other factor to be taken into account is that the day’s cloud albedo is countered by the night’s clouds GH gas effect.
Calculations of the cloudiness change of + – 1.5% – 2% are well within the margin of error.
Sceptics’ task is to look for a viable correlation and mechanism, rather than keep fingers crossed, and with a bit of luck Svensmark’s effect would eventually solve everything.
It would be a great boost for my other geomagnetic correlations
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/NFC1.htm
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/LFC20.htm
but I am not optimistic, just a realist.

DirkH says:
February 19, 2011 at 4:39 pm
Nellie.
And for all the reports from the South Pacific in this thread. Thanks!
(I couldn’t resist either)

Correction to the above: equatorial high count 1500+ /min, polar high count 4700 x 100/hour or 7600/ min, hence equatorial count is only 20% (not 30%) of the polar count.
Current count:
http://neutronm.bartol.udel.edu/~pyle/TheThPlot.gif

Jimbo

I would like to read what Piers Corbyn has to say on the matter along with a forecast. Observations of the real world are so much better than computer models. Is this is the real CLOUD experiment?

Jimbo

Here’s some nice backround on Forbush:

“Close passages of coronal mass ejections from the sun are signaled at the Earth’s surface by Forbush decreases in cosmic ray counts. We find that low clouds contain less liquid water following Forbush decreases, and for the most influential events the liquid water in the oceanic atmosphere can diminish by as much as 7%. ”
Henrik Svensmark et. al. 2009
http://www.agu.org/journals/ABS/2009/2009GL038429.shtml

—–

A link between the Sun, cosmic rays, aerosols, and liquid-water clouds appears to exist on a global scale…
This paper confirms 13 years of discoveries that suggest a key role for cosmic rays in climate change. It links observable variations in the world’s cloudiness to laboratory experiments in Copenhagen showing how cosmic rays help generate atmospheric aerosols.
This is important, because it confirms the existence of a sun-earth atmospheric modulation mechanism for clouds and aerosols. It is seen in an event called a Forbush Decrease, which A Forbush decrease is a rapid decrease in the observed galactic cosmic raycoronal mass ejection (CME). It occurs due to the magnetic field of the plasma solar wind sweeping some of the galactic cosmic rays away from Earth.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/08/04/a-link-between-the-sun-cosmic-rays-aerosols-and-liquid-water-clouds-appears-to-exist-on-a-global-scale/
http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/svensmark-forebush.pdf

pochas

E.M.Smith says:
February 20, 2011 at 3:02 am
“OK, looks like folks are being anecdotal… so….Here on the Loony Left Coast of California we’ve had more or less steady rain for days. I’m sick of it. So today it’s just stopped. ”
Well, anecdotally on the other side of the mountains the precipitation just showed up, and we will get dumped on here in Michigan. An anecdotal observation would be that cosmic rays cause water to tend to precipitate immediately, on costal areas like the U.K., west coast U.S., Pakistan, Australia, to name a few recent flood zones. During Forbush decreases, or during a solar maximum, the water stays aloft and precipitation is evenly distributed. At solar min, cooling is caused by drying of the atmosphere causing reduced greenhouse effect, as well as several other effects (TSI, AO, ozone, ???).

Forbush has not done much for Europe:
http://www.sat24.com/