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KILLER_CLOWN
04-09-2009, 10:14 PM
Can Government Scientists Save the Planet by Nuking Yellowstone National Park to Halt Global Warming?
Thursday, April 09, 2009 by: Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor


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(NaturalNews) Of all the hare-brained ideas about climate change I've heard in the last few years, this one takes the grand prize: John Holdren, the new science advisor to President Obama, is actively considering radical geoengineering ideas in order to halt global warming. One such idea now being discussed with the Obama administration involves -- get this -- launching enormous amounts of pollution particles into Earth's upper atmosphere to block the sun's rays and "chill" the planet.

Let me explain why this is one of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard. And keep in mind this is not about the debate of whether global warming is even real or not, since that's a different article altogether. This is about the short-sighted stupidity of even considering polluting the atmosphere in order to protect us from the CO2 pollution we've already dumped into the atmosphere.

First off, there's the whole idea that intentionally launching pollution into the atmosphere is, by any reckoning, a dangerous ecological experiment that potentially puts the entire Earth ecosystem at risk. Let's face it, folks: Human beings have proven themselves to be remarkably bad at anticipating the ecological effects of their own actions. The ramifications of such misguided efforts to fight global warming simply cannot be foreseen by any scientist (or group of scientists).

On top of that, human scientists have demonstrated themselves to be astonishingly arrogant when it comes to dealing with Mother Nature. The idea that we can save the planet by polluting the atmosphere is reckless at best, and delusional at worst.

Secondly, suppose blocking out one percent (or so) of the sunlight actually does halt global warming... then what? If the scheme somehow works, it will teach human beings that controlling CO2 emissions isn't necessary at all, because no matter how bad the pollution gets, governments can always launch more particles into the atmosphere to dim the sun and make up for it.

This could result in a vicious cycle of atmospheric dimming, followed by yet more CO2 emissions, followed by yet more dimming, and so on until the whole planet is left suffocating in a literal haze of pollution. The root of the problem, meanwhile, will remain completely ignored: CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants, automobiles and other fossil fuel burners.

In fact, this whole idea of dimming the sun instead of reducing CO2 emissions is a classic example of the kind of "treat the symptom" stupidity that characterizes western medicine. Instead of showing a cancer patient how to heal their own cancer, western medical doctors poison the patient with chemotherapy. This is essentially what the "global dimming" idea entails: Poisoning the planet with yet more pollution while calling it a "solution."

It's all quite ridiculous. More pollution will not save the planet any better than more poison saves cancer patients.



What about life on our planet?
But there's a third reason why dimming the sun with atmospheric pollution is a really, really bad idea: Virtually every living creature or system on our planet depends on sunlight for its biological energy. This is true even of humans: We're not solar-powered (unless you're a breatharian), but we do depend on foods that are derived from solar-powered plants at the bottom of the food chain.

This is true on land and in the oceans: Sunlight is the primary energy source for virtually ALL life on our planet. So what happens to life on Earth, exactly, when you start dimming out the sun using some hare-brained global pollution

http://www.naturalnews.com/026021.html

T-post Tom
04-10-2009, 12:27 AM
I don't think the Administration will cuddle up to that idea. In fairness, he did say only that it had to be looked at with everything else. A possible trial balloon according to this article. From my limited perspective: A very bad idea.


Obama and Geo-engineering? Don’t do it!
Thursday, April 9, 2009

Today’s reports[1] from an Associated Press interview with U.S. Chief Science Advisor John Holdren claiming that the White House could now be taking a serious look at geo-engineering - including the radical proposal to shoot nanoparticles of sulphate into the earth’s atmosphere - are causing alarm around the world. “If this is somebody’s trial balloon to test Obama’s acceptance of geo- engineering, the White House should shoot it down immediately,” says Pat Mooney, executive director of ETC Group, an Ottawa-based civil society organization that has been monitoring geo-engineering technologies since 2006. Geo-engineering refers to large-scale, intentional manipulations of the planet’s climate and other systems.

Holdren is quoted as saying that an experimental measure such as shooting sulphate into the atmosphere has “got to be looked at,” adding, “we don’t have the luxury of taking any approach off the table.” As reported, these comments seem to signal a change from earlier writings in which Holdren warned of “serious side effects” of geo-engineering.[2]

“The most disturbing aspect of geo-engineering is that unlike the Kyoto Protocol, which requires a broad consensus to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, geoengineering is a luxury afforded only to superpowers, who can unilaterally decide to adjust the earth’s climate to their liking. That John Holdren is reported as countenancing shooting sulphate nanoparticles into the atmosphere is especially alarming.”

“The potential side effects of polluting the upper atmosphere with sulphates could be devastating - ranging from ozone depletion and increased drought to threats to health,” explains Jim Thomas of ETC Group. “Worst of all, once governments start shooting up these particles into the atmosphere, we may find ourselves addicted.

Stopping would prompt a massive and sudden jump in temperature. Of all the wacky geo-engineering schemes out there, this one is probably the most dangerous and the most unjust. It would be irresponsible to contemplate real-world testing of this technology.”

Holdren’s statement is being received with glee by geo-engineers who have been campaigning for more research dollars and a higher public profile. This week a group of geo-engineers are reportedly sending a letter to the Obama administration asking that geo-engineering be placed on the agenda for the preparatory meeting of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate being convened April 27-28th in Washington D.C.[3] The looming failure of the Kyoto Protocol and uncertain outcome of the Copenhagen climate negotiations in December have politicians stargazing, hoping to find anything that could appear to be a winning strategy in the fight against climate change.

“The White House must confirm that Barack Obama’s meeting with representatives of the sixteen largest economies to discuss climate change later this month is not an attempt to convene some new ‘coalition of the willing’ to reengineer the planet,” asserts Diana Bronson of ETC Group. “If the United States does indeed head down the geo-engineering path they could find themselves in breach of international law under the UN’s ENMOD Convention [Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques]. If the White House wants to be constructive, it should work with the United Nations to ensure that appropriate oversight structures are in place to prevent unilateral deployment of geo-engineering. Meanwhile, geo-engineering schemes, including real world field trials, should be vigourously opposed.”

The AP’s interview with John Holdren comes on the heels of reports from the UK suggesting that both the government and the Royal Society are giving geoengineering a sympathetic hearing. Earlier this week, ETC Group sent a submission to the Royal Society on the question of governance and geo-engineering. ETC Group’s submission is available

here: http://www.etcgroup.org/en/materials/publications.html?pub_id=736
ETC Group is also sponsoring a “Pie-in-the-Sky” contest to highlight the absurdity of geo-engineering schemes. Entries have been received from 13 countries and the winner will be announced on Earth Day (April 22).

Taco John
04-10-2009, 12:31 AM
I'm trying to decide what is a stupider idea: considering trading a 25 year old pro bowl quarterback for a back-up on a super team, or nuking yellowstone park to "stop" "global warming."

Reaper16
04-10-2009, 12:36 AM
The robots in The Matrix mythos shot particles into the atmosphere to block the sunlight. So I vote no.

T-post Tom
04-10-2009, 12:54 AM
I'm trying to decide what is a stupider idea: considering trading a 25 year old pro bowl quarterback for a back-up on a super team, or nuking yellowstone park to "stop" "global warming."

I think the Yellowstone reference was a bit of hyperbole. But I love the Cutler dig. :clap:

HonestChieffan
04-10-2009, 08:07 AM
Somehow Nuking Yellowstone and the Oh My God Big Pharma!!! seems to go hand in hand.

On a lighter note, the Meltdown in Denver is somewhat akin to a nuc gone bad.

Simplex3
04-10-2009, 08:11 AM
The fact that anyone anywhere near the federal government would even listen to an idea like this, much less say it's on the table, blows me away. Can anyone name one time mankind has fucked with mother nature and things got better? Even one? While we're at it let's examine the fact that the Earth is overdue for another ICE AGE. So blocking out the sun right now might not be the smartest move ever.

penguinz
04-10-2009, 08:22 AM
The fact that anyone anywhere near the federal government would even listen to an idea like this, much less say it's on the table, blows me away. Can anyone name one time mankind has ****ed with mother nature and things got better? Even one? While we're at it let's examine the fact that the Earth is overdue for another ICE AGE. So blocking out the sun right now might not be the smartest move ever.Not to mention that sun spot activity is at one of the lowest points known.

Rain Man
04-10-2009, 08:25 AM
Why would you nuke Yellowstone when you can accomplish the same thing by nuking some country in the Middle East?

Simplex3
04-10-2009, 08:28 AM
Why would you nuke Yellowstone when you can accomplish the same thing by nuking some country in the Middle East?

I'm pretty sure it has something to do with the super volcano under Yellowstone.

jAZ
04-10-2009, 08:46 AM
This is about the short-sighted stupidity of even considering polluting the atmosphere in order to protect us from the CO2 pollution we've already dumped into the atmosphere.
The inescapable reality of attacking someone for "even considering" XYZ is that as you are laying out the case against XYZ, you are "even considering" it.

His objections on the merits are worthy of discussion just as the underlying idea is worthy of discussion in the sense that there are no bad ideas in a brain storming session.

Simplex3
04-10-2009, 08:57 AM
The inescapable reality of attacking someone for "even considering" XYZ is that as you are laying out the case against XYZ, you are "even considering" it.

His objections on the merits are worthy of discussion just as the underlying idea is worthy of discussion in the sense that there are no bad ideas in a brain storming session.

Sadly for the world, the nuke that could of saved us all from global warming by dropping it on Yellowstone will have been destroyed by Obama while ridding the world of evil.

...and yes, there are bad ideas in brain storming sessions. One this fucking stupid can only distract from reasonable idea and take up time.

Hydrae
04-10-2009, 09:20 AM
Can Government Scientists Save the Planet...

NO!

Taco John
04-10-2009, 10:20 AM
The inescapable reality of attacking someone for "even considering" XYZ is that as you are laying out the case against XYZ, you are "even considering" it.

His objections on the merits are worthy of discussion just as the underlying idea is worthy of discussion in the sense that there are no bad ideas in a brain storming session.


There are bad brain storming topics.

MagicHef
04-10-2009, 10:27 AM
I'm trying to decide what is a stupider idea: considering trading a 25 year old pro bowl quarterback for a back-up on a super team, or nuking yellowstone park to "stop" "global warming."

"Super team?" Who, the Bears? Yikes.

Pioli Zombie
04-11-2009, 04:08 PM
"Since the beginning of time man has been attempting to destroy the sun"
- Mr Burns
Posted via Mobile Device

Saul Good
04-11-2009, 04:25 PM
The inescapable reality of attacking someone for "even considering" XYZ is that as you are laying out the case against XYZ, you are "even considering" it.

His objections on the merits are worthy of discussion just as the underlying idea is worthy of discussion in the sense that there are no bad ideas in a brain storming session.

Perhaps we should consider exterminating the Jews in order to solve global warming.

SBK
04-11-2009, 05:00 PM
The Smartest President we've ever had.

banyon
04-11-2009, 05:03 PM
The Smartest President we've ever had.

you give this credibility?

SBK
04-11-2009, 05:14 PM
you give this credibility?

Do I think he would do this, no. Do I think he'd listen to the idea, yes.

Anyone with 1/2 a brain knows that nuking yourself is dumb, and the leader of any meeting in which an idea like this is presented should give a Jeremy Piven'esque performance.

http://i80.photobucket.com/albums/j179/devilelias26/arigold.gif

banyon
04-11-2009, 05:25 PM
Do I think he would do this, no. Do I think he'd listen to the idea, yes.

Anyone with 1/2 a brain knows that nuking yourself is dumb, and the leader of any meeting in which an idea like this is presented should give a Jeremy Piven'esque performance.

http://i80.photobucket.com/albums/j179/devilelias26/arigold.gif

There's nothing in that fringey article even about a meeting, or "listening to their ideas", just that it was "actively discussed with some people". No dates, places, transcripts, quotes, nothing. Doesn't rouse your suspicion, though?

What does that mean? You're "actively discussing it" right now, does that mean you're a kook?

For all anyone knows (and likely, IMO) the loops behind this probably shouted it themselves at some public meeting or conference and were escorted out of the room and call that an "active discussion".

tiptap
04-12-2009, 09:30 AM
I have had discussions on this site about "Global Dimming." This phenomenon has been measured. Previous Sulfates placed in the atmosphere were by dirty smoke stacks. That addition to the atmosphere has resulted in decreased sunlight hitting the ground over the last 50 years. This is based upon direct solar readings of the spectrum from ground measurements and from Water Replacement studies performed by agricultural studies the world around over the last 50 years.

This effect is being seen in the emerging economies of India and China even now. The advantage of placing the Sulfate higher up in the atmosphere it that it would be more effective.

I AM NOT ADVOCATING THIS APPROACH. But the the science, if not the engineering, is valid.

What the hell it has to do with Yellowstone is a complete mystery to me.

Rain Man
04-12-2009, 04:53 PM
Anyone with 1/2 a brain knows that nuking yourself is dumb...


I can't argue with that.

googlegoogle
04-12-2009, 05:08 PM
We should tap yellowstone for geothermal.

fu__k yourself yellowstone loving environuttos.

stevieray
04-12-2009, 05:19 PM
new study shows eating red meat is good for you!

researchers say eating red meat is bad for you!

recent studies say eating red meat is good for you!

banyon
04-12-2009, 05:35 PM
We should tap yellowstone for geothermal.

fu__k yourself yellowstone loving environuttos.

You're quite the even-tempered rational debater aren't you? A regular Betrand Russell and William F. Buckley rolled into one.

googlegoogle
04-12-2009, 05:46 PM
You're quite the even-tempered rational debater aren't you? A regular Betrand Russell and William F. Buckley rolled into one.


The dodge city William F Buckley. Nice to meet you!

ROFL

banyon
04-12-2009, 05:54 PM
The dodge city William F Buckley. Nice to meet you!

ROFL

I didn't say I was Buckley. What are you laughing about?

googlegoogle
04-12-2009, 07:03 PM
I didn't say I was Buckley. What are you laughing about?

Laughing at your fake intelligence and the stupid shi* you say.

banyon
04-12-2009, 07:27 PM
Laughing at your fake intelligence and the stupid shi* you say.

There's certainly nothing fake about your ignorance.

googlegoogle
04-12-2009, 07:53 PM
There's certainly nothing fake about your ignorance.

Ignorant about what exactly? How about some examples.

banyon
04-12-2009, 07:57 PM
Ignorant about what exactly? How about some examples.

http://www.chiefsplanet.com/BB/search.php?searchid=272927

googlegoogle
04-12-2009, 08:04 PM
http://www.chiefsplanet.com/BB/search.php?searchid=272927

Sorry - no matches. Please try some different terms.

Try again stupid intellectual.

HonestChieffan
04-12-2009, 08:09 PM
I hate when that happens.

banyon
04-12-2009, 08:20 PM
Sorry - no matches. Please try some different terms.

Try again stupid intellectual.

Works fine for me.

tiptap
04-13-2009, 06:22 AM
Here is an article of scientists discussing aerosols for general public discussions. On the site itself are a few graphs and illustrations that I did not transfer. These tenets of discussion of aerosols are well in line with Meteorology courses that I have had in the past concerning precipitation and clouds. These are not new ideas. But our understanding of scope and interaction has become more sophisticated.

Aerosol formation and climate, Part I
Filed under:

* Aerosols
* Climate Science

— group @ 6:19 AM

Guest post by Bart Verheggen, Department of Air Quality and Climate Change , Energy research Institute of the Netherlands (ECN)

The impacts of aerosols on climate are significant, but also very uncertain. There are several reasons for this, one of which is the uncertainty in how and how fast they are formed in the atmosphere by nucleation. Here, in part I, I’ll review some of the basic processes that are important in determining the climate effects of aerosols, focusing in particular on their formation. This is also relevant in order to better understand –and hopefully quantify- the hypothetical climate effects of galactic cosmic rays which I'll discuss in a follow-up post.

Background

Aerosols are liquid or solid particles suspended in the atmosphere (but not including water droplets or ice crystals). They can either be directly emitted into the atmosphere (primary aerosols like dust), or they can be formed in the atmosphere by condensation (secondary aerosol like sulfates). Almost all of their properties, and thus effects, are size dependent: The particle size governs the rate at which they fall out (and thus atmospheric lifetime), their interaction with radiation, their impact on clouds, or even their health effects. And they come in very different sizes, ranging from a few nanometers to tens of micrometers. Some sites with good introductory explanations to aerosols and their climate effects are here, here and here (German). RC also had some posts on the same generic topic here and here.

Climate effects of aerosols

Aerosol particles can influence climate in several ways: They scatter and absorb (in the case of black carbon) solar radiation (direct effects). They also act as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) around which clouds can form, and thereby influence cloud reflectivity and cloud lifetime (indirect effects). Black carbon can have another indirect effect by changing the albedo of snow and ice, but that’s not the topic of this post. The aerosol indirect effects are the greatest source of uncertainty in assessing the human impact on climate change (reviewed here. The main idea is that more CCN causes liquid clouds to consist of more, but smaller, droplets. The resulting cloud is more reflective (first indirect effect). Due to the smaller size of cloud droplets, the formation of precipitation may be suppressed, resulting in a longer cloud lifetime and larger cloud cover (second indirect effect).

The mass of a freshly nucleated aerosol particle is more than 100,000 times smaller than that of an ‘aged’ aerosol of a size optimal to affect climate. As a rule of thumb, particles have to grow past 100 nm (1 nm = 10-9 meters) in order to become climatically active; below this size they are not easily activated into a cloud droplet and they don’t scatter solar radiation very efficiently. It is thus not immediately obvious that the climate effects of aerosols will depend very strongly on nucleation; the dependence is likely considerably damped, because a lot can happen to the aerosol particle as it comes of age.

Aerosol formation

The most prevalent trace gases do not generally nucleate new aerosols (or even condense onto existing ones), because they are too volatile (i.e. they have a high saturation vapor pressure and thus evaporate readily). They first have to be oxidized (usually under the influence of sunlight) to produce a compound with a lower vapor pressure. The prime example of this is the oxidation of sulfur dioxide (SO2) into sulfuric acid (H2SO4), which has a very low vapor pressure. The H2SO4 can then condense together with water vapor (and perhaps organic compounds and/or ammonia) to form a stable cluster of molecules: A new particle is typically 1-2 nanometers in diameter. Ions can also play a role, by lowering the energy barrier that needs to be overcome: The attractive forces between the molecules are stronger when one of them is charged. See here and here for a review of atmospheric nucleation processes.

Instead of nucleating into a new particle, H2SO4 could also condense on an existing aerosol particle, making it grow in size. Because of this competition for the vapor, nucleation is more likely to happen when there is only a little aerosol present.

Aerosol growth

Condensation of more vapor onto the nucleated aerosol makes it grow in size. However, other processes hamper its possibility to grow large enough to substantially influence the climate: Two aerosols can collide together, in a process called coagulation. Coagulation is particularly efficient between very small nano-particles and larger particles (of a few hundred nanometers). It causes the bigger one to grow in size, whereas the smaller (recently nucleated) one disappears. When there are a lot of very small aerosols around (i.e. after a nucleation event), they can also coagulate together. This causes them to grow in size, but decreases their number concentration. The loss processes for the number of aerosols (deposition and coagulation with bigger particles) are stronger when they’re very small.


Figure 1: Different factors influence the extent to which nucleation contributes to the number of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). (Figure partly based on AGU presentation by Jeff Pierce)

Measurements

New particle formation has been observed all over the globe, from the Poles to the Tropics, from urban to remote areas, and from surface sites to the upper troposphere (see here for a review of such observations). Of these locations, only nucleation in the free troposphere and in the vicinity of clouds seems to agree with theoretical predictions. In most other cases the number of aerosol particles produced is under-predicted. This has led to the development of semi-empirical approaches to describe nucleation. Laboratory studies have typically found much stronger dependencies on H2SO4 than atmospheric measurements. A confounding factor is that newly formed particles of 1 to 2 nanometers can not be directly measured by commercially available instrumentation (though there are new developments in this area). Nucleation takes place in a kind of no-man's land between the gas and the liquid phase, about which we know surprisingly little.

Figure 2: Measurements of an atmospheric nucleation and growth event in the Lower Fraser Valley, Canada. The color gives the (normalized) number concentration, where the red color indicates the enhanced concentration of nucleated particles, growing into the CCN size range. (from Mozurkewich et al.)

So what is needed for nucleation to occur? Favorable conditions include a strong source of condensable vapor; high UV radiation intensity; low aerosol surface area; high relative humidity; low temperature; presence of ions; and atmospheric mixing processes. Under different environmental conditions, different nucleation mechanisms may be at work. For example, in industrial plumes and over urban areas enough sulfuric acid may be present to form new particles and have them grow to a stable size. Ammonia may neutralize the acidic cluster, and thereby help stabilizing it. Over forested areas, the relative role of organic compounds is expected to be much larger (though a strong correlation of nucleation events with sulfuric acid remains). In coastal areas, iodine compounds are likely involved in the nucleation process. In the upper troposphere, the ion density is usually larger, whereas the sulfuric acid concentration is lower. The relative role of ion induced nucleation may therefore be larger up there. The dominant role of sulfuric acid has remained a steady conclusion over the years, whereas the potential roles of organic compounds and ions are still hotly debated.

In part II, I'll discuss the potential importance of nucleation and of galactic cosmic rays for climate change.

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/04/aerosol-formation-and-climate-part-i/langswitch_lang/in#more-668

tiptap
04-16-2009, 12:24 PM
In Part I, I discussed how aerosols nucleate and grow. In this post I'll discuss how changes in nucleation and ionization might impact the net effects.

Cosmic rays

Galactic cosmic rays (GCR) are energetic particles originating from space entering Earth’s atmosphere. They are an important source of ionization in the atmosphere, besides terrestrial radioactivity from e.g. radon (naturally emitted by the Earth’s surface). Over the oceans and above 5 km altitude, GCR are the dominant source. Their intensity varies over the 11 year solar cycle, with a maximum near solar minimum. Carslaw et al. give a nice overview of potential relations between cosmic rays, clouds and climate. Over the first half of the 20th century solar irradiance has slightly increased, and cosmic rays have subsequently decreased. RC has had many previous posts on the purported links between GCR and climate, e.g. here, here and here.

The role of ions

The role played by ions relative to neutral (uncharged) molecules in the nucleation process is still very much under discussion. For instance, based on the same dataset, Yu and Turco found a much higher contribution of ion induced nucleation (to the total amount of particles produced) than Laakso et al did. Evidence for a certain nucleation mechanism is often of an indirect nature, and depends on uncertain parameters. Most literature points to a potential importance of ion induced nucleation in the upper troposphere, but the general feeling is that neutral pathways for nucleation (i.e. not involving ions) are likely to be dominant overall. Most field studies, however, have been performed over land, whereas over the open ocean nucleation rates are generally lower due to lower vapor concentrations. In theory at least, this gives more opportunity for ion induced nucleation to make a difference over the ocean (even though the ion production rate is smaller).

The ion production rate (increasing with altitude from ~10 to ~50 ion pairs per cubic centimeter per second over land) sets a limit to what the particle formation rate due to ion induced nucleation can be. Based on his model for ion induced nucleation, Yu found that at low altitude, the number of particles produced is most sensitive to changes in cosmic ray intensity. At first sight, this may be a surprising result in light of the increasing cosmic ray intensity with increasing altitude. The reason is that high aloft, the limiting factor for particle formation is the availability of sulfuric acid rather than ions. Above a certain GCR intensity, increasing ionization further could even lead to a decrease in ion induced nucleation, because the lifetime of ion clusters is reduced (due to increased recombination of positive and negative ions). In contrast, at low altitude particle formation may be limited by the ionization rate (under certain circumstances), and an increase in ionization leads to an increase in nucleation.

How important is nucleation for climate?

Different modeling exercises have been performed to investigate this question. The strong dependency on input data and assumptions used, e.g. relating to primary particle emissions and nucleation parameterizations, and the different sensitivities tested, hampers an overall assessment. However, it is clear that globally, nucleation is significant for the number of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) e.g. in the absence of boundary layer nucleation, the number of CCN would be 5% lower (Wang and Penner) or 3-20% lower (Spracklen et al.), and in a recent follow up study, they concluded that the number of cloud droplets would be 13-16% lower (in 2000 and 1850, respectively). Pierce and Adams took a different approach and looked at the variation of predicted number of CCN as a result of using different nucleation schemes. The tropospheric number of CCN varied by 17% (and the boundary layer CCN by 12%) amongst model runs using different nucleation rate parameterizations. Note that the globally averaged nucleation rates differed by a factor of a million (!).

It should be noted that the sensitivity of the number of CCN to nucleation depends greatly on the amount of primary emissions and secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formed. These are very uncertain themselves, which further limit our ability to understand the connection between nucleation and CCN. If there are more primary emissions, there will be more competition amongst aerosols to act as CCN. If more organic compounds partition to the aerosol phase (to form SOA), the growth to CCN sizes will be quicker.

Locally, particle formation has been observed to contribute significantly to the number of CCN; the second figure in Part I gives an example of freshly nucleated aerosols which grew large enough to influence cloud formation. Kerminen et al observed a similar event, followed by activation of part of the nucleated aerosols into cloud droplets, thus providing a direct link between aerosol formation and cloud droplet activation.

How important are cosmic rays for climate?

At the recent AGU meeting (Dec 2008), Jeff Pierce presented results on the potential effects of GCR on the number of CCN (their paper is currently in press at GRL (sub. required)). Two different parameterizations for ion induced nucleation were used (Modgil et al and an ‘ion-limit’ assumption that all ions go on to form a new particle). They ran their model with both high and low cosmic ray flux, simulating conditions during solar maximum and minimum, respectively. This happens to be comparable to the change in cosmic ray flux over the 20th century (mostly confined to the first half), and amounts to a 20% change in tropospheric ion production. With both mechanisms of ion-induced nucleation, this leads to a 20% change in globally averaged particle nucleation, but only to a 0.05% change in globally averaged CCN. The authors concluded that this was “far too small to make noticeable changes in cloud properties based on either the decadal (solar cycle) or climatic time-scale changes in cosmic rays.” To account for some reported changes in cloud cover, a change in CCN on the order of 10% would be needed. More studies of this kind will undoubtedly come up with different numbers, but it’s perhaps less likely that the qualitative conclusion, as quoted above, will change dramatically. Time will tell, of course.

The bottom line

Freshly nucleated particles have to grow by about a factor of 100,000 in mass before they can effectively scatter solar radiation or be activated into a cloud droplet (and thus affect climate). They have about 1-2 weeks to do this (the average residence time in the atmosphere), but a large fraction will be scavenged by bigger particles beforehand. What fraction of nucleated particles survives to then interact with the radiative budget depends on many factors, notably the amount of condensable vapor (leading to growth of the new particles) and the amount of pre-existing particles (acting as a sink for the vapor as well as for the small particles). Model-based estimates of the effect of boundary layer nucleation on the concentration of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) range between 3 and 20%. However, our knowledge of nucleation rates is still severely limited, which hampers an accurate assessment of its potential climate effects. Likewise, the potential effects of galactic cosmic rays (GCR) can only be very crudely estimated. A recent study found that a change in GCR intensity, as is typically observed over an 11 year solar cycle, could, at maximum, cause a change of 0.1% in the number of CCN. This is likely to be far too small to make noticeable changes in cloud properties.
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/04/aerosol-effects-and-climate-part-ii-the-role-of-nucleation-and-cosmic-rays/langswitch_lang/in


At first sight, this may be a surprising result in light of the increasing cosmic ray intensity with increasing altitude. The reason is that high aloft, the limiting factor for particle formation is the availability of sulfuric acid rather than ions.

I repeat this section as it is the part directly related to seeding sulfuric acid higher in the atmosphere in order to increase clouds. AGAIN I AM NO WAY ADVOCATING THIS AT THIS TIME. But I do recognize the science and understand that if we really reach severe setting this is something to consider.