Reply [to “Cosmic rays, carbon dioxide, and climate”]



In our analysis [Rahmstorf et al., 2004], we arrived at two main conclusions: the data of Shaviv and Veizer [2003] do not show a significant correlation of cosmic ray flux (CRF) and climate, and the authors' estimate of climate sensitivity to CO2 based on a simple regression analysis is questionable. After careful consideration of Shaviv and Veizer's comment, we want to uphold and reaffirm these conclusions.

Concerning the question of correlation, we pointed out that a correlation arose only after several adjustments to the data, including shifting one of the four CRF peaks and stretching the time scale. To calculate statistical significance, we first need to compute the number of independent data points in the CRF and temperature curves being correlated, accounting for their autocorrelation. A standard estimate [Quenouille, 1952] of the number of effective data points is

display math

where N is the total number of data points and r1, r2 are the autocorrelations of the two series. For the curves of Shaviv and Veizer [2003], the result is NEFF = 4.8. This is consistent with the fact that these are smooth curves with four humps, and with the fact that for CRF the position of the four peaks is determined by four spiral arm crossings or four meteorite clusters, respectively; that is, by four independent data points. The number of points that enter the calculation of statistical significance of a linear correlation is (NEFF− 2), since any curves based on only two points show perfect correlation; at least three independent points are needed for a meaningful result.