Not long ago, I wrote a short piece on a NASA study that attributed much of global warming to solar activity (aka the sun). While NASA was pretty quiet about releasing the data and it was couched in a lot of soft terms, it was still there. Since it supported my thoughts on climate change being much more complicated and a lot less human-driven than we’re lead to believe, I did a writeup for Aaron’s EnvironMental Corner.
Unlike most of the other side of the debate, who accept global warming as Al Gore describes it, however, I am willing to admit when something I posted is refuted. In this case by a scientist who, while he doesn’t have the big name of NASA behind him, does have the equally-large name of Carnegie Mellon University behind him.
In a report I first saw on Science Daily, scientists Peter Adams from Carnegie Mellon and Jeff Pierce from Dalhousie University (Canada) did some computer modeling on greenhouse gases and solar influence.
Their models directly contradict the NASA findings and show that, even if they made huge errors, it’s not likely that the sun is nearly as responsible for global warming as the planetologists and physicists at NASA might have thought. Specifically, they tested the theory proposed by those NASA scientists that an increase in solar activity reduces cloudiness by changing cosmic rays.
It’s common knowledge that when cloud cover decreases, more of the sun’s rays hit the earth and it becomes warmer. However, it was thought by NASA that this increase in rays also increased the amount of cloud cover increases until a certain critical mass it reached, at which time the clouds begin to disperse because those same rays begin to break them up (i.e. cause percipitation).
Adams and Pierce have refuted that theory by showing, through computer modeling, that while the changes are possible, they are 100 times too small to actually affect the climate in any meaningful way. Adams, a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon, is the first scientist to build a computer model to test the NASA theory in detail. Specifically to test solar variations on particle formation rates (clouds).
Although the final results are not yet in and there are some doubts, Adams and Pierce are confident that their findings are conclusive enough to refute the NASA theory.
I’m not a scientist, but in this case, and from what I know of the science, I’d say they’re likely correct. Of course, this proves only one thing (and that’s not that global warming as man-made is correct): science is not FACT, it’s hypothesis. A guessing game with some answers being more probable than others, but no answer being irrefutable.
If you have a subscription, you can read the whole report in the journal Science here.