Danish experiment suggests unexpected magic by cosmic rays in cloud formation

Sep 04, 2013
Simulating what could happen in the atmosphere, the DTU's SKY2 experiment shows molecular clusters (red dots) failing to grow enough to provide significant numbers of "cloud condensation nuclei" (CCN) of more than 50 nanometres in diameter. This is what existing theories predict. But when the air in the chamber is exposed to ionizing rays that simulate the effect of cosmic rays, the clusters (blue dots) grow much more vigorously to the sizes suitable for helping water droplets to form and make clouds. (A nanometre is a millionth of a millimetre.) Credit: Technical University of Denmark

According to the theory, small clusters of molecules in the atmosphere have difficulty growing large enough to act as "cloud condensation nuclei" on which water droplets can gather to make our familiar low-altitude clouds. The SKY2 experiment shows that the growth of clusters is much more vigorous, provided ionizing rays—gamma rays in the experiment or cosmic rays in the atmosphere—are present to work their chemical magic. Details of the experiment appear in the latest issue of Physics Letters A.

Back in 1996 Danish physicists suggested that , from space, are important in the formation of clouds. Since then, experiments in Copenhagen and elsewhere have demonstrated that cosmic rays actually help small clusters of molecules to form. But the cosmic-ray/cloud hypothesis seemed to run into a problem when of the prevailing chemical theory pointed to a failure of growth.

Fortunately the chemical theory could also be tested experimentally, as was done with SKY2, the chamber of which holds 8 cubic metres of air and traces of other gases. One series of experiments confirmed the unfavourable prediction that the new clusters would fail to grow sufficiently to be influential for clouds. But another series of experiments, using ionizing rays, gave a very different result, as can be seen in the accompanying figure.

The reactions going on in the air over our heads mostly involve commonplace molecules. During daylight hours, ultraviolet rays from the Sun encourage sulphur dioxide to react with ozone and water vapour to make sulphuric acid. The clusters of interest for consist mainly of sulphuric acid and clumped together in very large numbers and they grow with the aid of other molecules.

Atmospheric chemists have assumed that when the clusters have gathered up the day's yield, they stop growing, and only a small fraction can become large enough to be meteorologically relevant. Yet in the SKY2 experiment, with natural cosmic rays and keeping the air in the chamber ionized, no such interruption occurs. This result suggests that another chemical process seems to be supplying the extra molecules needed to keep the clusters growing.

"The result boosts our theory that cosmic rays coming from the Galaxy are directly involved in the Earth's weather and climate," says Henrik Svensmark, lead author of the new report. "In experiments over many years, we have shown that ionizing rays help to form small molecular clusters. Critics have argued that the clusters cannot grow large enough to affect cloud formation significantly. But our current research, of which the reported SKY2 experiment forms just one part, contradicts their conventional view. Now we want to close in on the details of the unexpected chemistry occurring in the air, at the end of the long journey that brought the cosmic rays here from exploded stars."

Explore further: Planets with oddball orbits like Mercury could host life

More information: "Response of cloud condensation nuclei (>50 nm) to changes in ion-nucleation", H. Svensmark, Martin B. Enghoff, Jens Olaf Pepke Pedersen, Physics Letters A 377 (2013) 2343-2347.

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julianpenrod
1.5 / 5 (22) Sep 04, 2013
So often, crucial points are casually doffed in an article.
For example, note the reference to the tank at SKY2 containing "8 cubic metres of air and traces of other gases". What "other gases"? Air is air. What is above our heads and constitutes the atmosphere is air. Anything more represents an adulteration. Sulfuric acid, if it's present overhead, is part of "air", so is any fossil fuel contamination, because that's what is above us. Could these "other gases" represent the weather modification substances dumped into the air from high flying jets, forming non dissipating vapor lanes, in the project that has come to be called "chemtrails"?
And, note, not all substances ionize so completely or so readily. So, despite the claims of "debunkers", it is possible to stimulate weather modification through the judicious spraying of easily ionized substances in the region high up where cosmic rays are supposed to be abundant.
OooMmm
4.4 / 5 (5) Sep 04, 2013
@julianpenrod: The air in our atmosphere contains roughly 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and 1% other gasses... Physics 101...
Q-Star
3 / 5 (14) Sep 04, 2013
Could these "other gases" represent the weather modification substances dumped into the air from high flying jets, forming non dissipating vapor lanes, in the project that has come to be called "chemtrails"?
And, note, not all substances ionize so completely or so readily. So, despite the claims of "debunkers", it is possible to stimulate weather modification through the judicious spraying of easily ionized substances in the region high up where cosmic rays are supposed to be abundant.


Ahha,,, there ya are and looking so much like yourself. Tell us more about this intentional man made global warming and terraforming project,,,, there may be some newcomers who are unaware of this most dangerous and evil conspiracy. (Pay no mind to the debunkers, they just woke up grumpy and are having a bad day)

julianpenrod
1.5 / 5 (21) Sep 04, 2013
Note the manner and degree to which those who seek to oppose the truth make fools of themselves. The article said the tank at SKY2 contains "air and other gases". Literally that means that what constitutes air, all the various gases, and other vaporous substances. Yet, one who would seek to try to mock me instead demonstrates an imbecile's inability to understand what is around them by prating, "The air in our atmosphere contains roughly 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and 1% other gases". But that 1% "other gases" is already part of the "air" in the SKY2 container and the "other gases" referred to in the article is over and above the "1% other gases" in the statement intended to ridicule me. The tank at SKY2 contains 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 1% other gases, which is the "air" mentioned, plus even other gases on top of these.
Q-Star
2 / 5 (8) Sep 04, 2013
Note the manner and degree to which those who seek to oppose the truth make fools of themselves. The article said the tank at SKY2 contains "air and other gases". Literally that means that what constitutes air, all the various gases, and other vaporous substances. Yet, one who would seek to try to mock me instead demonstrates an imbecile's inability to understand what is around them by prating, "The air in our atmosphere contains roughly 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and 1% other gases". But that 1% "other gases" is already part of the "air" in the SKY2 container and the "other gases" referred to in the article is over and above the "1% other gases" in the statement intended to ridicule me. The tank at SKY2 contains 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 1% other gases, which is the "air" mentioned, plus even other gases on top of these.


I knew there was a simple explanation. Thanks, I'm sure it will be useful.
gregor1
1.3 / 5 (16) Sep 04, 2013
Woo hoo. This guy deserves the nobel prize. This is a must watch.
https://www.youtu...pQ#t=107

verkle
1.3 / 5 (14) Sep 05, 2013
They could have put the same scales on the graphs at the top of the page.

Anyway, this is fascinating work. Perhaps the absence or increased presence of cosmic rays are what greatly influenced weather of the past. And perhaps we are linked to the universe more closely than what we thought.

Neinsense99
1.5 / 5 (8) Oct 27, 2013
@julianpenrod: The air in our atmosphere contains roughly 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and 1% other gasses... Physics 101...

Physics 101? That's any decent high school science class and hundreds of web sites.

Neinsense99
1.5 / 5 (8) Oct 27, 2013
Note the manner and degree to which those who seek to oppose the truth make fools of themselves. The article said the tank at SKY2 contains "air and other gases". Literally that means that what constitutes air, all the various gases, and other vaporous substances. Yet, one who would seek to try to mock me instead demonstrates an imbecile's inability to understand what is around them by prating, "The air in our atmosphere contains roughly 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and 1% other gases". But that 1% "other gases" is already part of the "air" in the SKY2 container and the "other gases" referred to in the article is over and above the "1% other gases" in the statement intended to ridicule me. The tank at SKY2 contains 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 1% other gases, which is the "air" mentioned, plus even other gases on top of these.

"Note the manner and degree to which those who seek to oppose the truth make fools of themselves." I appreciate the synopsis of your post. :)