An interview with Henrik Svensmark: cosmic rays, clouds and climate

Prof Henrik Svensmark & Jacob Svensmark discuss the connection between cosmic rays, clouds and climate with the GWPF’s Benny Peiser and Jonny Bairstow from Energy Live News after his recent presentation in London. Video and slideshow follow.

See his slideshow:

Prof Henrik Svensmark & Jacob Svensmark: The Connection Between Cosmic Rays, Clouds and Climate. (pdf)

Presentation in the House of Lords, London, 13 March 2018

113 thoughts on “An interview with Henrik Svensmark: cosmic rays, clouds and climate

  1. Interesting approach, making a prediction and then waiting for data to prove it right or wrong. Brilliant, but seems more difficult than just deciding the outcome and then writing a paper… also, was the camera operator drunk? /sarc

      • What worked for Einstein was making a prediction then waiting for data to prove him right or wrong. The story of the very long time and all the ways the tests were done is what makes it an interesting story.
        (No, no connection of Einstein to the cloud stuff other than the predict then wait to test)

        • What worked for Einstein was making a prediction then waiting for data to prove him right or wrong.
          Actually, he didn’t wait. His theory immediately explained Mercury’s perihelion advance, which was first recognized in 1859 by Urbain Le Verrier as a deviation from Newtonian Mechanics.

  2. What is absolutely FATAL for the Svensmark hypothesis is that what might influence the Earth’s climate is not the GCR flux in interplanetary space modulated by the sun, but the actual flux in the atmosphere with its MUCH larger modulation by the geomagnetic field.
    He should NOT compare with the GCR flux corrected for the effect of the Earth’s magnetic field, but with the actual flux observed [e.g. by 14C]
    [Broken photo link fixed -w.]

    • Dear Leif… I’m avidly interested in your expansion of the idea (to quote)

      …but the actual flux in the atmosphere [that is subject to] much larger modulation by the geomagnetic field

      This seems to be a key point of yours (I remember you saying this in back-posts fairly regularly), which I would love to read a longer explanation (and perhaps a graph or two? Perhaps?) of. Thank you in advance, GoatGuy

    • I was just researching your point. It is true that the solar wind can affect earths magnetosphere. But the magnetosphere itself is generated by fluxes in Earths iron core. Same reason a compass needle points north south to earths poles, unaffected by the position of the Sun in the day.
      I think there is another flaw. CCNs are abundant in the atmosphere. For example, biologically generated turpenes, isoprenes (making the Great Smoky Mountains smoke), and over oceans dimethylsulfides. The GCR flux is relatively a minor component.

      • Svensmark covers the dimethylsulfide relationship to muons (by product of GCR collisions) and their effect on CCN in detail in his book

      • Do we know that the intensity of GCRs at the heliopause is constant with respect to time?
        Alternatively, do we know that the Local Interstellar Cloud is isotrophic with respect to the intensity of GCRs?

      • Ristvan says “Same reason a compass needle points north south to earths poles”
        The magnetic poles are always moving toward a reversal and at no time have ever been truly on the actual poles.

      • Any comment I make triggers someone or something, I’m not having this argument anymore Anthony, if you don’t want me here just say and stop wasting my time, ruining the natural flow of conversation is not something I do, it is you sir.

      • I’ll just point out, while it seems like a duplicate post to you Mod, on my side there was no indication that the post was successful, would you not take the same action that I did and try to post the comment again?

    • I think you put a link in your post, but I’m getting the ‘x’ treatment and a ‘file not found’.

    • … the actual flux in the atmosphere with its MUCH larger modulation by the geomagnetic field. …

      Indeed. The Earth’s magnetic field is variable and seems to have weakened over the last 150 years. Here’s a link to a paper that speculates that the climate may be affected by the magnetic field.
      The thing is that the correlation, if it exists, seems backward. If I understand correctly, less magnetic field means more cosmic rays will cause more cloudiness and result in a decrease in global temperature. So, we would suppose, given a 150 year decrease in the magnetic field’s strength, that it would be getting cooler not warmer.
      Am I missing something?

      • It depends on the altitude of the clouds as to whether they cool or warm. I’m not an expert on this, but I understand it is more complex than just ‘moar cloudz’. nb: the IPCC also could not model clouds correctly, which is why their TCR and ECS are off, iirc.

      • Moa read essay Cloudy Clouds in ebook Blowing Smoke for some useful information. Whether clouds cool or warn depends on cloUd type (cirrus warm, cumulonimbus cools)), cloud altitude, loud optical depth, and entrained water content. No simple answer is possible as the net net determines the climate effect. And CMIP5 models dont do clouds; they have to be parameterized.

      • Not to say you are missing something, but there are also papers on the effects of the Southern Hemisphere Magnetic Anomaly, also called the South Atlantic Magnetic Anomaly.
        Vieira, L. E. A., and L. A. da Silva (2006), Geomagnetic modulation of clouds effects in the Southern Hemisphere Magnetic Anomaly through lower atmosphere cosmic ray effects, Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L14802, doi:10.1029/2006GL026389.
        I have seen other papers but have lost the references.

      • Actually, Svensmark’s book, The Chilling Stars, notes that from the time of the end of the Maunder Minimum (i.e. ~1815) that the sun has been, on average more active with sunspots and coronal ejections. Hence, the Sun’s magnetic ‘bubble’ has been pushed out like a balloon’s surface, strengthening as it went. The changes he mentions is that starting in the mid-90’s the number of sunspots and hence the sun’s magnetic bubble has deflated allowing more GCRs to penetrate the earth’s atmosphere. So, up to the mid-90’s the earth warmed because the cloud cover shrunk but once the Sun started going to sleep, possibly another minimum, then the cloud cover increased and more solar radiation reflected back into space and not absorbed by the atmosphere and oceans.

        • Perhaps you could show us [citation or page number] where he addresses the FATAL objection that what might influence the Earth’s climate is not the GCR flux in interplanetary space modulated by the sun, but the actual flux in the atmosphere with its MUCH larger modulation by the geomagnetic field.

    • Excellent point, lsvalgaard. I fully agree with you …
      Another key point is that GCR may not be the sole modulator of CCN production rates & cloud formation. CCN rates may also be directly affected by solar electric currents reaching Earth (the so-called Birkeland currents) via the Earth’s electric circuit. What’s of critical importance, however, is the indisputable observation that global cloud cover has decreased since 1979 causing an increase in surface solar radiation of at least 2.7 W m-2, which is sufficient to explain the ENTIRE warming over the past 35+ years! See references linked to this Twitter Moment:

      • The physics of climate has no political color. Nature’s laws are independent of human morality, religion and politics

        While this is true, it is most unfortunate that activists and even the scientists often word their findings to portray a sense of urgency, a need for immediate action and the activists try to drive the political environment accordingly. So while Climate has no political color, activists tend to use poorly worded findings in a political manner.

      • You can push a piston down once in a diesel engine that wait and see what will happen to temperature. One stroke downwards does not create contiuous energy flow to keep up the temperature. The first law of energy conversation. You cannot create energy from nothing.

      • “Their findings also provide new insight as to why the man-made UN IPCC-supported Global Climate Models (GCMs) based on the radiative ‘Greenhouse Gas’ concept and assumptions consistently fail to predict observed global temperature trends, hence they should not be used for policy decision making.”

      • “Big volcanic eruptions such Mount Tambora in 1815 or Mount Pinatubo in 1991 have had impact on global temperature but only for a few years. Typically volcanic effects on temperature through aerosol injections are not significant on climatological time scale: 10s to 100s of yrs.”

      • “This implies that theabsolute temperature of a gas may not follow variations of pressure
        if the gas energy absorption changes in opposite direction to that of
        pressure. For instance, the temperature of Earth’s stratosphere increases
        with altitude above the tropopause despite a falling air pressure, because
        the absorption of UV radiation by ozone steeply increases with height,
        thus offsetting the effect of a dropping pressure. If the UV absorption
        were constant throughout the stratosphere, the air temperature would
        decrease with altitude.”

      • Ned said to me that I have physiological probems and I asked him when did he last beat his wife. it’s not that the science doesn’t add up or make sense on a basic level, it does, and I wish Ned many happy years beating his wife.
        [Prune it all? .mod]
        [Normally I would, but it’s important for others to see just how bad “sparks” is at commenting. He’s jonesing for a ban it seems – Anthony]

  3. His longer term link(s) between the Solar System’s position relative to the Galactic plane are remarkable in lining up great eras of global climate change prehistorically. In other words… as odd as it might seem on the surface, there’s definitely something to it.

      • The actual flux is overwhelmingly controlled by the Earth’s magnetic field [right-hand plot]. The solar modulation are the tiny wiggles on that curve. What Svensmark [and Bond, it seems] compares with are the tiny wiggles and not the huge real variation.

      • The hypothesis is not about all cosmic rays and all clouds. It is only about the highest energy cosmic rays and low level clouds. The claim is that it is only the highest energy cosmic rays, originating outside the solar system and modulated by the sun, that can penetrate the atmosphere deep enough to affect low-level cloud formation. In turn, only the low level clouds have a cooling effect by reflecting incoming solar radiation. The higher level clouds warm via impeding the outgoing long wave radiation. I am not saying I think Svensmark is right. I am just saying that posting graphs of ALL cosmic rays or ALL clouds does not really address his hypothesis.

        • the highest energy cosmic rays, originating outside the solar system and modulated by the sun
          the high-energy cosmic rays are not modulated by the sun…

  4. Thank you for posting this. I have followed Svensmark since I watched “The Cloud Mystery” which is still available on YouTube. I also read his book for laymen, which was quite good.
    I am glad to see his son is working with him. It seems to me that more people should be paying attention to his theory, because we are bound to get periods of cooling again like back in the 70’s, when all the talk at my university was about the “coming Ice Age.”

  5. Are you [pruned] serious WUWT? when have I ever posted anything offensive? sort this nonsense out now or I will never be back
    [Well, you just did it. For the third time. .mod]

    • You know, if you don’t have the patience to wait a little bit until we can examine comments trapped by the spam filter, perhaps you should leave. Choice is yours.

      • I have never been offensive, except when I’m joking about, I’m very respectful. if you’re talking crap I will call you on it, tolerance should work both ways and I’m sorry Anthony if I come across as impatient, I’m not! I don’t like spending the time to engage with people just to be treated like shit. that’s where I’m coming from everytime I make a comment here, and you’re lucky I like ya or I’m gone… ya big eejit ya lol hope you have a grrreat Saint Patricks day 🙂

      • I am not fond of swearing. Yes it has its place now and again but only to act as an adverb to inhance low level statistical acumen. If one understands and can speak in statistical technical vocabulary, there is no need for the vulgar adverb.

      • Pamela Gray I’ve noticed that you make it clear showing your disike for a person, in my case you suggest that I am a vulgar person and I wont stand for this slander any longer, if I say [pruned]; or swear within context of commentary engaged with the subject then you should [pruned] and understand what was said. It is likely that you are the one who has mixed things between Anthony and myself where I am under moderation.all the time.
        [Language cut. Again. .mod]

  6. A very brief mention of CERN in Switzerland but no mention of JASPER KIRKBY ……. A little disingenuous not to mention Jasper and his work at CLOUD !!!

    • I notice no mention of Prof Lu in Waterloo who is working on CR and Antarctic ozone (which is a huge heat vent), mediated by bromine, CFC’s and other molecules. His hypothesis has also been demonstrated to work at the lab level.

  7. “Leave a Reply – if your comment doesn’t appear right away, it may have been intercepted by the SPAM filter. Please have patience while our moderation team examines it.” smug bastards!! stop censoring people who take the time to engage in conversation here, ffs are you really that moranically simple?
    (You should stop the whining, with a few of your comments now in the trash bin because you are complaining and complaining about moderators. All we did was prune a word or two nothing more, you need to chill down) MOD

  8. I would think that even if we are talking about extragalactic cosmic rays being more modulated by the sun that these higher energy particles would not necessarily be evenly distributed and earth might travel through more and less densely saturated areas from time to time possibly causing more or less variation in particles getting through to earth irrespective of solar field strength?

  9. Seems to me scientists wanting to “protect” [their] opinion are not scientist at all. EVERYTHING is doubtful, embrace the doubt please. Henrik’s my man.

    This paper is on the mark. Svensmark has it correct.
    The body of evidence is large and convincing.
    As I have said and now I am more convinced then ever, that it is the combination of weak solar/ geo magnetic fields which bring about the changes to the climate.
    The galactic cosmic rays playing a big role both in clouds and major silica volcanic eruptions.
    Any one can torture the data to make it appear this is not so which has been done so many times but not very unconvincingly.
    Anthony I am so glad you are putting out these articles because they have much merit. Keep doing it.

  11. I believe in the Svensmark’s theory of the cosmic rays affecting the cloudeness changes and this mechanism amplifies the Sun insolations changes on the Earth’s temperature. Below is the figure of temperature and insolation changes since 1600. The correlation is pretty good but not a perfect one.
    My conclusion is almost the same as the equation of Lean: the Sun insolation chances can be mutiplied by 4.2 in order to get the temperature changes. The causation is from Svensmark’s theory, and the multiplyer 4.2 is empirical.
    I think that it is also important that I do not know any other theory which could explain the temperature changes since 1610 expect the Sun theory.

      • I have different understanding about the Lean’s TSI estimate method. Lean (Reference below) has used sunspot darkening and facular brightening data and she has studied this subject according to her own method. Judith Lean’s paper was selected for publication in Geophysical Research Letters “Top 40” edition and it was rewarded. The figure below shows the TSI graphs according to main researchers of this specialty.
        In my eyes the graph of Hoyt & Schatten looks very different. Scafetta has used this graph, because it has excellent correlation to the temperatures from 1850 onwards but it fails badly before that.
        Reference: Judith Lean, “Evolution of the Sun’s Spectral Irradiance Since the Maunder Minimum”, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 27, No. 16, Pages 2425-2428, August 15, 2000.

      • “The analysis reported in this talk invalidates the TSI CDR before ~1978” I really enjoy your work Leif,.most of it is aggresive yet insightful I have to admit, You’re set in stone and have no room to manuver, I’m not concerned, I’ve noticed one thing about you that puts you on the right track of understanding something incredible.

    • aveo / Islvalgaard:
      If you only look at the Maunder Minimum
      as proof that low sunspot counts
      correlate with cold temperatures,
      you’ll get a different story than if you
      look at all four minimums during the
      Little Ice Age.
      There were cold periods between minimums,
      and sometimes colder periods
      at the beginning of a minimum,
      then rising temperatures
      toward the end of the minimum,
      the opposite of what you’d expect.
      The climate reconstructions could be
      far from accurate, but we also have
      anecdotal written records for the Little
      Ice Age. The Maunder Minimum period
      was cold — the other minimums not so much.
      In addition, if the sun was that important,
      shouldn’t the 11 year solar cycle
      cause an easy to measure
      11-year average temperature cycle ?
      Svensmark has been saying the same thing
      for a long time — where’s the proof?
      Even if Svensmark is right,
      the effect is likely to be
      a tenth of a degree or two
      — well within an realistic margin of error
      for any average temperature compilation.
      It’s my opinion that
      lsvalgaard knows what
      he is talking about,
      and Svensmark is just talking.
      My climate change blog
      for people with common sense.
      Not leftists, of course

  12. Another great video on explaining the strength of magnetic fields versus the climate. Someone had posted this the other day worth posting again in my opinion.

  13. “A Birkeland current usually refers to the electric currents in a planet’s ionosphere that follows magnetic field lines (ie field-aligned currents), and sometimes used to described any field-aligned electric current in a space plasma.[3] They are caused by the movement of a plasma perpendicular to a magnetic field. Birkeland currents often show filamentary, or twisted “rope-like” magnetic structure. They are also known as field-aligned currents, magnetic ropes and magnetic cables)”

  14. to Yogi Bear March 16, 2018 at 3:17 pm.
    This graph cannot be read even by a magnifying glass. Please provide a figure with proper font sizes.

  15. I believe in the connection between cosmic rays and clouds. My own theoretical calculations confirm ions and free electrons can cluster water vapor and gas molecules, which is necessary to CCN formation. The connection between solar cycles and climate is more complicated. I would say it’s a plausible hypothesis but needs more observational evidence.

    • Dr. Strangelove Brian Tinsley your man
      Correlations of atmospheric dynamics with solar wind-induced changes of air-Earth current density into cloud tops
      Brian A. Tinsley
      First published: 1 December 1996
      “We analyze reported correlations between solar activity and weather and climate and show that in six independent data sets there is a correlation of measured changes in atmospheric dynamics with measured or inferred changes in vertical atmospheric air-earth current density. The current density changes are due to external modulation of the global electric circuit by the solar wind. We describe the several ways in which the solar wind modulates the global circuit, and the observations that support a simple model of the circuit, with two return paths in parallel. One return path is at low latitudes with relatively constant impedance and the other is at high latitudes and is responsive to solar wind modulation.”

  16. Why is this such news? It is a simple exercise to follow the pressure-temperature profile on Venus down to 1Bar, correct it for the factor of 2 in solar irradiance and the result about 14-15C which is very close to earth average temperature. I am sure many have done this. Two very different compositions, almost perfectly matched temperatures. When I have pointed this out to people, the claim is that it is circumstantial. Has this paper managed to put this om solid physical ground?

  17. The study I sent plus these videos make a very compelling case that it is magnetic field strengths changing that govern the climate but the devil is in the details.
    How does the geo magnetic field change in other words where are the magnetic poles in a given excursion , just how weak does the field become in a given excursion, what is the surrounding space environment in regards to galactic cosmic rays during a given excursion, what kind of galactic cosmic rays are present in , what is the solar magnetic field doing at the time, what is the initial state of the climate at the time, due to Milankovitch cycles, continental drift etc
    Taken all of that into consideration you have people trying to prove somehow that all this is false because the data does not fit into a neatly clear cut pattern, which is exactly what the data should NEVER do because there are so many factors at work when it comes to the climate going on at the same time and more importantly the degrees of magnitude changes and duration of these factors is never going to be the same when it happens..
    Despite this the evidence in the historical climatic record in the general picture is there, for if it were not these studies and theories would not have any lasting power but they do and are gaining more traction as AGW theory fails.
    I am convinced that it is the combination of weakening geo/solar magnetic fields that govern the climate.

    • I like how your thoughts are evolving Salvatore Del Prete, have a look into the orientation of the suns polarity and the timing of its reversals. (hint; el nino spikes)

  18. I am referring to both solar/geo magnetic fields in my first sentence of my previous post.

    • What do you believe would be the physical premise for the “…magnetic field strengths changing that govern the climate…” I am not saying your idea is faulty, as we know very little about climate change mechanisms, but the energy content in the oceans appears to me to be a heavy contributor/driver to climate change.

  19. @aveollila
    I don’t follow your bicycle pump analogy.
    Gravity is always present as a force.
    Not an expert, but Ned Nikolov’s theory seems quite plausible.
    Could someone please elaborate ?

    • Just a simple example. The gravity is at its maximum at the surface of the Earth. Try to make energy from the air pressure. It is freely available. It would be a perpetum mobile and no one has ever succeeded.Now somebody says that it provides so much energy that it raises the surface temperature by 33–34 degrees Celsius.
      I have calculated the energy fluxes provided with the GH phenomenon. These fuxes are the same as measured at the surface and at the TOA.

      • You seem to be confused, aveollila… no one is claiming that you can make a perpetual motion machine from gravitational air pressure. Some people claim that the fact that you can’t make a perpetual motion machine out of the gravitationally induced *temperature* gradient proves that the temperature gradient is not maintained by gravity alone, but they are wrong, because they have failed to take into account that extracting energy from a temperature gradient reduces the total energy in the system, causing it to cool down, and eventually condense and eliminate the gradient. No perpetual motion there. The laws of thermodynamics still hold!

    • Planetary atmospheric density is intrinsically linked to the gravational mass, its temperature is a result of basic principles, for example, greater atmospheric pressure holds more potential energy. I don’t want to use any analogues until you understand this point.

    Areas of importance which are neglected in large part are the solar wind speed ,the global electrical circuit, and galactic cosmic rays . Actually they are all tied to one another.
    When the solar wind decreases the intensities of galactic cosmic rays (GCR)that are allowed to enter the atmosphere will increase and this this in turn intensifies the global electrical circuit.
    It has been shown through actual data on a short term basis (days) through the monitoring of Forbush decreases and SEP events which stands for solar particle events both of which originate from the sun , that the electrical circuit decreases following a Forbush decrease which is a lessening of galactic cosmic rays ,while it increases following an SEP event.
    This has big implications for solar /climate relationships on a longer term basis because it has been shown through these day to day events that when a FORBUSH DECREASE take place the global electrical circuit decreases which results in a decrease in global cloud coverage and cyclonic systems weakening while the opposite follows an SEP event.
    This then can be applied to what happens to global cloud coverage and cyclonic systems over a long term basis when the sun enters a prolonged solar minimum period of activity which lowers the solar wind allowing more GALACTIC COSMIC RAYS to enter the earth’s atmosphere which increases the strength of the global electrical circuit which has been shown on a short term basis(through actual data ) to increase cloud coverage and strengthen cyclonic systems.
    350km/sec or lower is needed for the solar wind speed in order to get GCR counts high enough( at least 6500 units) which then will impact the global electrical circuit through strengthening it on a long term basis which then would promote greater global cloud coverage and strengthen cyclonic systems. Higher albedo for sure /and perhaps more precipitation.
    In the meantime EUV(100 units or less) /UV light is on the decrease which will effect the atmospheric circulation(more meridional) and sea surface temperatures respectively.
    All this is going to lead to global cooling.
    Getting back to the solar wind and it’s effects upon the climate these two values are needed in my opinion which are again a solar wind speed sustained over months of less then 350km/sec and a resultant AP index over months of 5 or lower.
    Solar irradiance will not be a major player in the changing of the climate it may drop by .15% which would only contribute a .1c to maybe .2c to global cooling.
    Will this persist and become more common place as we move forward? I say yes and this should in turn effect the climate by cooling it.

    • the global electrical circuit
      is created and maintained by thunderstorms.
      On your criteria: you said the same thing ten years ago or so, yet no cooling followed…
      Now, a broken clock is still right twice a day, so you just keep saying it and you will [like the clock] be right sometime in the future.

  21. I am amazed… no mention made of the amazing work by the team of scientists at CERN (led by Dr Jasper Kirkby) & their CLOUD experiments.

  22. The nitrogen effect. “Nitrogen emissions are a problem everywhere, and play an outsized role in global climate change; the gas is more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Given that any farmer would be thrilled to see yield increases, these results should impact farming practices well beyond the border of China.” Quartz. Link won’t copy.
    Boy Plowing

    • Kinda a sad thing for us if this is true, given that the earth’s atmosphere is 78% Nitrogen. I believe Nitrogen is transparent to IR as the bonds vibrate at a different frequency of light – UV and higher.

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