U Hawaii Student Research Abstracts - 2016

The Effect of Solar Activity on Galactic Cosmic Rays

Laney Flanagan, Maui High School


    Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCRs) are high-energy atomic nuclei traveling near the speed of light that zoom around the universe and very often strike the Earth’s atmosphere. The subsequent collisions result in the particle being split into several secondary particles which can then be detected by ground-based neutron monitors. The sun releases solar radiation that varies on an 11-year cycle in the form of solar wind, and this could affect the amount of GCRs that reach the Earth. Sunspots also vary directly with this cycle and so are a good indicator of solar activity, so this data was utilized. It is predicted that the sun’s solar activity will inversely correspond with the frequency of GCRs detected on Earth because of the interference caused by particles in the solar wind. Using existing sunspot data from NOAA and neutron monitor data from the Climax neutron monitor, the two variables were graphed against each other. At a period of more sunspots, the neutron monitor recorded lower counts; at a period of fewer sunspots, more GCRs were detected. This resulted in two almost-periodic lines that are opposite each other--a clear indication that the two variables are inversely correlated.


Cosmic Climate

Bryce Jackman, Maui High School   


It’s no secret that our climate has been scaling in a dramatic way over the last decade. The cause of this sudden change in temperature is blamed on everything from driving your car to deforestation. This project took a different approach, Not to see if the human factor is to blame for this change in temperature. Instead, Looks for a correlation between cosmic rays and the development of low cloud coverage. A cosmic ray is a high energy and highly radiated particle that comes from outside of the solar system, most oftenly from the Milky Way Galaxy.  This project was inspired by a theory created by Henrik Svensmark. He stated that when the sun is more active, the amount of cosmic rays reaching the earth is reduced, causing less low cloud coverage. While researching, it was found that GCR’s have little effect on the change of the climate due to how little they help form low level cloud formations.


The Effect of Galactic Cosmic Rays On Global Temperatures (Drafting)

Mary Chin, Maui High School, Kahului, Hawaii


The purpose of this project is to determine whether or not the frequency of galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) in the solar system affects Earth’s temperatures on a global scale. GCRs have the potential to initiate cloud formation in Earth’s atmosphere, altering weather patterns and regional climates. The number of GCRs infiltrating Earth’s atmosphere is highly dependent on interferences caused by the Sun’s magnetic field. The north and south magnetic fields are divided by a horizontal surface called the Heliospheric Current Sheet (HCS). Caused by irregularly strong magnetic regions in the current sheet are sunspots, and therefore their quantity is an indicator of fluctuations in the magnetic field, and furthermore how many GCR’s are reaching Earth. Current data on sunspot frequencies and global temperatures show a correlation, which therefore lead to the prediction that  number of sunspots present does have a significant effect on global temperatures.


The Relationship between Solar Irradiance and Global Warming

Phrincess Constantino, Maui High School, Kahului, HI


    In this project, global warming is the increase of the Earth’s atmospheric temperature due to the climate change. This warming effect can currently be observed in positive temperature anomalies in the global temperature average. Greenhouse gases are gases that contribute by absorbing infrared radiation or a type of electromagnetic radiation, such as radio waves, ultraviolet radiation, or X-rays. This greenhouse effect causes solar radiation to be trapped within the Earth’s atmosphere. This causes the solar radiation to refrain from going back into space. Data on greenhouse gases show that 20% of solar radiation is scattered and reflected by clouds and 4% is reflected by the Earth’s surface. Solar radiation is energy from the sun that comes in the form of electromagnetic wave energy.  The measurement of this solar energy in the upper atmosphere of the Earth is referred to as solar irradiance Solar irradiance can be measured in watts/ per square meter (W/m2) and is the energy emitted from the radiation.  Data on solar activity, over an eleven year average, shows that the total solar irradiance increased and the global average temperature on Earth increased as well. Therefore a prediction can be made that there is a correlation between the increasing measurements of  solar radiation and the increasing surface temperatures of the Earth due  to global warming.



Is Galactic Cosmic Ray modulation one of the cause of the global warming?

Keith Imada, Maui High School, Kahului, HI


The abundance of Galactic Cosmic Ray hitting our atmosphere is heavily affected by the Sun and its 11 year cycle. The current solar cycle is the weakest in centuries. In this project, students have been studying how the flux of cosmic ray at Earth measured by Neutron Monitors is affected by solar activity. How the solar activity is correlated with the sunspot numbers and how the solar activity changed during the last couple of centuries. They have been looking for correlations between global temperature, global warming, clouds formation, solar radiance and cosmic rays.