Cosmic rays ‘not causing climate change’
Scientists at two UK universities have produced evidence to debunk a popular alternative theory to explain climate change.
Following a year long study, emeritus professors Terry Sloan, of Lancaster University, and Arnold Wolfendale, of Durham University, said they could find no link between cosmic rays and global warming.
The theory, developed by Henrik Svensmark, of the Danish National Space Centre, says that cosmic rays affect the amount of cloud cover – and therefore the Earth’s surface temperature – so cutting greenhouse gas emissions will have no impact on climate change.
It is a favoured theory among climate sceptics and was featured in the controversial Channel 4 documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has previously said it is only 90% certain that greenhouse gases are the cause of climate change, leaving the possibility that there is another explanation for increasing global temperatures.
Professor Sloan told edie: “We started on this research with the intention of checking whether Svensmark was right.
“We cannot find a link between cosmic rays and low cloud cover, and therefore the proposal by Svensmark that this is the cause of global warming is not corroborated.
“We can’t prove it and therefore the IPCC has probably got it right so we should cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.”
Svensmark’s theory developed as a result of the similarity between the amount of low altitude cloud and the rate at which cosmic rays fall on Earth.
Professor Sloan said he is unable to explain the correlation between the two phenomena, if one is not causing the other.
The full report, published in the Environmental Research Letters journal, can be found here.
An article by Professors Sloan and Wolfendale summarising their findings can be found here.
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