More trash from the Indians

The Indian government seems to be making a minor speciality in boosting voodoo science, presumably caring less for their reputations and more for fighting off any restrictions on coal burning. Or it may be all a matter of tedious internal politics and corruption, who knows.

This springs again from an article in the Hindu which is kind enough to destroy its credibility right up front by beginning A key belief of climate science theology.... Before I return to the obvious lies - "Cosmic ray impact ignored" - I'll do the throw-away stuff at the end, viz:

In November 2009, Mr. Ramesh had released a report by glaciologist V.K. Raina claiming that Himalayan glaciers are not all retreating at an alarming pace. It had been disputed by many Western scientists, while IPCC chairman R.K. Pachauri dismissed it as "voodoo science." However, Dr. Raina was later vindicated by the IPCC's own retraction of its claim that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035.

Now this is interesting because it is still fooling people who ought to be able to think. The sequence is this: in Nov 2009, the Indian govt boosted a not-very-exciting report about Himalayan glaciers. Why they did so is unclear; politics probably. The report it self was a collage of observations, which out of nowhere produced a conclusion that the analysis itself could not possibly support: that there is no evidence to suggest that global warming has enhanced the loss of glacial ice in this region [1]. The report would have been quietly forgotten but for the wild excitement over the 2035/2350 slip-up in the IPCC WGII report (which was itself based on some dubious Indian work, but never mind). See me here or lots of other places for analysis of that. But the revisionism that folks are now putting out is that because the IPCC WG II made the mistake over 2035, therefore the original Indian report is of some value and is "vindicated". Which is clearly a logical fallacy. And is also wrong.

Back to the start

So, to return to the "new" stuff, we have the familiar cosmic-rays-cause-global-warming:

Physicist and the former ISRO chairman, U.R. Rao, has calculated that cosmic rays -- which, unlike carbon emissions, cannot be controlled by human activity -- have a much larger impact on climate change than The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claims. In fact, the contribution of decreasing cosmic ray activity to climate change is almost 40 per cent, argues Dr. Rao in a paper which has been accepted for publication in Current Science, the preeminent Indian science journal. The IPCC model, on the other hand, says that the contribution of carbon emissions is over 90 per cent.

So far so boring. If I wanted to believe that kind of stuff, I'd have believed Svensmark 10 years ago or whenever it was (blah blah blah). And if there was anything genuinely new to say, it wouldn't be being published in a minor national journal it would be in a proper international journal.

So the idea that the IPCC ignored the possiblility of cosmic ray impacts is an obvious lie, which can be discovered by reading the report, or if you're too lazy to do that google will do it for you. Never mind. The answer, as we all know, if that there is precious little evidence for impact.

Which brings us back to: what exactly is new about the recent paper (Contribution of changing galactic cosmic ray flux to global warming, U. R. Rao? As far as I can tell, very little: the assertion that there is a well established excellent correlation between low-level clouds and primary cosmic ray intensity appears to be about it; that is the abstract and leads into the text with A 8% decrease in galactic cosmic ray intensity during the last 150 years as derived from 10 Be records will cause a decrease of 2.0% absolute in low cover clouds [12], where [12] is Lee, S. H. et al., Particle formation by ion nucleation in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. Science, 2003, 301, 1886. Err, so that is it. A re-hash of old data sets and an unjustified relation plucked from a 2003 paper is being re-sold as new science: again no surprise it isn't in a decent journal. I don't have acccess to Lee et al., but it looks perfectly respectable and the abstract, which as you'd expect from the title is mostly about the stratosphere ends with ...potentially affecting cloud formation and radiative transfer. So it is immeadiately clear that this paper cannot possibly be a definitive source for an exact and agreed relation between cosmic rays and (low) cloud cover, and that someone has pulled a fast one over the reviewers (if any).

You're probably better off, again, with the IPCC, who said:

Many empirical associations have been reported between globally averaged low-level cloud cover and cosmic ray fluxes (e.g., Marsh and Svensmark, 2000a,b). Hypothesised to result from changing ionization of the atmosphere from solar-modulated cosmic ray fluxes, an empirical association of cloud cover variations during 1984 to 1990 and the solar cycle remains controversial because of uncertainties about the reality of the decadal signal itself, the phasing or anti-phasing with solar activity, and its separate dependence for low, middle and high clouds. In particular, the cosmic ray time series does not correspond to global total cloud cover after 1991 or to global low-level cloud cover after 1994 (Kristjánsson and Kristiansen, 2000; Sun and Bradley, 2002) without unproven de-trending (Usoskin et al., 2004). Furthermore, the correlation is significant with low-level cloud cover based only on infrared (not visible) detection. Nor do multi-decadal (1952 to 1997) time series of cloud cover from ship synoptic reports exhibit a relationship to cosmic ray flux. However, there appears to be a small but statistically significant positive correlation between cloud over the UK and galactic cosmic ray flux during 1951 to 2000 (Harrison and Stephenson, 2006). Contrarily, cloud cover anomalies from 1900 to 1987 over the USA do have a signal at 11 years that is anti-phased with the galactic cosmic ray flux (Udelhofen and Cess, 2001). Because the mechanisms are uncertain, the apparent relationship between solar variability and cloud cover has been interpreted to result not only from changing cosmic ray fluxes modulated by solar activity in the heliosphere (Usoskin et al., 2004) and solar-induced changes in ozone (Udelhofen and Cess, 2001), but also from sea surface temperatures altered directly by changing total solar irradiance (Kristjánsson et al., 2002) and by internal variability due to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (Kernthaler et al., 1999). In reality, different direct and indirect physical processes (such as those described in Section 9.2) may operate simultaneously [2].

[Oh, and while I'm here, fans of Time Cube shouldn't miss Piers "delusional, irrelevant & disingenuous" Corbyn.

Also, I know nothing of Rao, but his wiki article isn't great - but it is excellent news that Prof Rao's experiments on a number of Pioneer and Explorer spacecrafts, led to a complete understanding of the solar cosmic ray phenomena - and suggests he is a bit of a Good Old Boy; anyway, a Cosmic Ray scientist so it isn't odd for him to be pushing them. What is a bit odd is that page doesn't list a single paper of his; but he must have written some. Google scholar pulls up some stuff from the 70's; my guess would be that he's been coasting on that ever since.]


* Papers on the non-significant role of cosmic rays in climate - looks like a useful reference, and the one I was thinking of was "Are Cosmic Rays Influencing Oceanic Cloud Coverage - Or Is It Only El Niño? - Farrar (2000)" from oh-so-long-ago; so long ago that we were arguing on Usenet not blogs. See here for example (hello Eli!).
* Nature: Climate change: A cosmic connection (2006)
* Misc ravings around the time of TGGWS
* Nv (2007)

More like this

I'm still waiting for Piers to 'free the source code, free the data', as all good skeptics do.

Darn it man, you're starting to act like the WUWTers in one respect. You do indeed have access to Science; it's in a library not too far from you. Just as it was 20 years ago, before any of us had online access. It's poor form to comment on what some paper does or does not say, without having read it.

[Well, true. Or at least, possibly. I'm not convinced that Cambridge town library keeps back-copies of Science to 2003. But I might try... hold on, the catalogue is online: no, not there. They have Nature though -W]

By carrot eater (not verified) on 30 Jan 2011 #permalink

Wow, that Time Cube thing is great. I especially liked "-1 x -1 = +1 is Evil math". The scariest part was getting to the bottom and discovering a "Next Page" link. o.o

What the world
Needs now
is an mp3 of Stephen Hawking's voice reading the Timecube page.

Is that site what you would describe as "shouty"?

The university doesn't let people from the outside community use their libraries? Or are oxford grads blacklisted?

[Good grief no. Of course not: the library is for the university only. Actually a limited number of outside folk get in - I had a card when I worked at BAS - but not the general public -W]

By carrot eater (not verified) on 31 Jan 2011 #permalink

Well, as a parent, I'm rather taken with the idea that my children should worship me. Don't know how well my maths tuition will succeed if I start spreading the good word about -1x-1=+1 just to save my own worthless skin.

As for that weather thingie - colourful is one word. Restraint, elegance and good taste can be overdone. But so can febrile assaults on the eye.

Oh dear, I *have* been brainwashed. -1x-1= anything but +1.

My dad knows U.R. Rao, and is fond of telling the story of how, after a failed rocket launch, he said "It was only a partial failure."

From everything he's said, yes, he's one of the Good Old Boys - short on scientific rigor, long on self-importance.

Why are they called Galactic Cosmic Rays? Wouldn't Galactic Rays or Cosmic Rays be sufficient? Perhaps I'd better look up the definitions of these things....