That changed the world.
|Cartoons by Josh|
As Andrew Orlowski writes in The Register:
The first results from the lab's CLOUD ("Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets") experiment published in Nature today confirm that cosmic rays spur the formation of clouds through ion-induced nucleation. Current thinking posits that half of the Earth's clouds are formed through nucleation. The paper is entitled Role of sulphuric acid, ammonia and galactic cosmic rays in atmospheric aerosol nucleation.As Andrew mentions, the results were posted in Nature HERE.
This has significant implications for climate science because water vapour and clouds play a large role in determining global temperatures. Tiny changes in overall cloud cover can result in relatively large temperature changes.
- Nature 476, 429–433 (25 August 2011) doi:10.1038/nature10343
Veteran science editor Nigel Calder, who brought the theory to wide public attention with the book The Chilling Stars, co-authored with the father of the theory Henrik Svensmark, has an explanation and background on his blog, here, and offers possible reasons on why the research, mooted in the late 1990s, has taken so long.That short video is great. For another See post: Svensmark: The Cloud Mystery.
Svensmark, who is no longer involved with the CERN experiment, says he believes the solar-cosmic ray factor is just one of four factors in climate. The other three are: volcanoes, a "regime shift" that took place in 1977, and residual anthropogenic components.
When (CLOUD's lead physicist) Dr (Jasper) Kirkby first described the theory in 1998, he suggested cosmic rays "will probably be able to account for somewhere between a half and the whole of the increase in the Earth's temperature that we have seen in the last century."
More from CERN here, and a video here.®