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It's not just gas that triggers warming.

A SCIENTIFIC paper released by the Union environment ministry has challenged the popular notion that global warming is caused mostly because of gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane and water vapour.

The paper ' Contribution of changing galactic cosmic ray flux to global warming' by U. R. Rao, former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, has argued that cosmic rays, which cannot be controlled, can have a much larger impact on climate change than previously thought.

New experiments provide persuasive evidence to show that the changes in the intensity of galactic cosmic rays can significantly affect global temperature.

The Inter- Governmental Panel for Climate Change ( IPCC), the UN climate body, needs to take a relook into their future prediction of global warming by factoring in the long term changes in cosmic ray intensity, the paper says.

With the increase in solar activity, the primary cosmic ray intensity has decreased by 9 per cent during the past 150 years leading to lesser cloud cover and reduced albedo radiation being reflected back into space. This, in turn, causes an increase in the earth's surface temperature, the paper notes.

The IPCC working group report has predicted an increase in the earth's surface temperature and sea level rise to be between 1.8 degree Celsius ( under best scenario) and 4 degree Celsius ( under worst case scenario) by the end of the 21st century. The effect of cosmic ray intensity over long periods, however, could add or subtract to the global warming.

This means predicting future global warming and sea level rise is not simple, since it also significantly depends on the unpredictability of cosmic ray intensity.

" We conclude that the contribution to climate change due to the change in galactic cosmic ray intensity is quite significant and needs to be factored into the prediction of global warming and its effect on sea level raise and weather prediction," the paper states.

The paper has been accepted for publication by the Current Science , a journal published in collaboration with the Indian Academy of Science.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Jan 27, 2011
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