Thursday, October 05, 2006

"Gob-smacking" news?

I popped into EnviroSpin Watch today and Professor Philip Stott has updated the site for the first time in a while. And what an update it is:
One especially eminent science writer has already declared: "The implications for climate physics, solar-terrestrial physics and terrestrial-galactic physics are pretty gob-smacking..."
I say, watch this space. Slowly, but surely, this revelation could well open a can of wormholes in climate-change science.
The reason is simple. The experiment ties in beautifully with the brilliant work of geochemist, Professor Ján Veizer of the Ruhr University at Bochum, Germany, and the University of Ottawa in Canada, and Dr. Nir Shaviv, an astrophysicist at the Racah Institute of Physics in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who for some time have been implicating cosmic rays and water vapour, rather than carbon dioxide, as the main drivers of climate change. Indeed, they have put down 75% of climate change to these drivers.
Cosmic rays are known to boost cloud formation - and, in turn, reduce temperatures on Earth - by creating ions that cause water droplets to condense. Ján Veizer and Nir Shaviv calculated temperature changes at the Earth's surface by studying oxygen isotopes trapped in rocks formed by ancient marine fossils. They then compared these with variations in cosmic-ray activity, determined by looking at how cosmic rays have affected iron isotopes in meteorites.
Their results suggest that temperature fluctuations over the past 550 million years are more likely to relate to cosmic-ray activity than to CO2. By contrast, they found no correlation between temperature variation and the changing patterns of CO2 in the atmosphere.
But the mechanism remained far from understood... until now. For it seems that Svensmark and Pedersen may well have discovered that mechanism.
Do read the whole thing, which has more details and links. I will certainly be "watching this space."

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