Eigil Friis-Christensen

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Eigil Friis-Christensen (born October 29, 1944 - September 21, 2018 ) was a Danish geophysicist and space physicist.


In 1971 Friis-Christensen received the Cand. Mag. (Dr.) in geophysics at the University of Copenhagen. In 1972 he became a geophysicist at the Danish Meteorological Institute. In August 1972 his interest in the activity of the sun began to arise. He was in a tent when he noticed an extreme solar storm:

“I was in Greenland for my first assignment in my new job as a geophysicist at the Danish Meteorological Institute. I was in the process of setting up a number of magnetometer stations on the west coast ... when I watched the styluses on my recorder flip so wildly they almost ripped off the paper - we didn't have digital devices back then - and I wondered if such big events would happen too could have an impact in the lower atmosphere, on weather and climate. This storm cut me off from the outside world for nine days - all radio contact was interrupted - so that I had plenty of time to think about the enormous forces that were at work here. "

1976–1997 he was research director of the Greenland magnetometer network.

1991–1997 he was head of the department for solar-terrestrial physics at the Danish Meteorological Institute. In 1992 he was also involved in the project of the first Danish satellite Ørsted , which was launched in February 1999.

In 1997 Friis-Christensen and Henrik Svensmark took up the idea that cosmic rays could have an impact on the climate . They suggested a possible link between cosmic rays, cloud formation, and global warming that would be affected by variations in solar wind intensity , called cosmoclimatology .

In 2002 he was appointed head of research for the ESA SWARM mission . On September 27, 2007 he gave the Birkeland lecture Unrest on the sun - storms on the Earth. The magnetic connection in Oslo.

1996–2006 Friis-Christensen was Associate Professor of Geophysics and Space Physics at the Niels Bohr Institute of the University of Copenhagen and published over 140 articles and books. He lectures worldwide including a presentation at the US National Institute of Aerospace in 2008.

From 2004 to 2012 he was Director of the Danish Space Center at the Technical University of Denmark .

Sunspot Cycle Length and Global Warming

In 1991 and 1995 Christensen published two works together with Knud Lassen that also attracted some public attention. A supposedly high correlation between the temperature development of the earth, including global warming , and the length of the sunspot cycle is established. The New York Times wrote of the paper in 1991: "Although the correlation shown by Dr. Friis-Christensen and Dr. Lassen has not been definitively established, a number of scholars have named it remarkable for the close correlation between solar and temperature trends " .

In 1997, together with Henrik Svensmark, he proposed the influence of solar activity on cosmic radiation as the physical cause for the apparent connection between the length of the sunspot cycle and global temperature . When there is less solar activity, this reaches the earth's atmosphere at a higher intensity and, according to the hypothesis, could have an impact on cloud formation. For one data set they found a correlation between the intensity of cosmic rays and clouds, but they could not provide a microphysical explanation for the assumption. Whether cosmic radiation can even have an influence on cloud formation and what such a microphysical process could look like is the subject of current research, including the CLOUD experiment .

The high correlation between sunspot cycle length and global temperature and the hypothesis that this could be a major explanation for current global warming, however, turned out to be untenable. In 2000, the co-author Knud Lassen himself determined that there was no longer any correlation for the period from 1990 onwards.

Nevertheless, the work was picked up by climate skeptics and played a prominent role - even after the apparent statistical correlation had proven to be unfounded - on blogs such as Watts Up With That or in films such as The Climate Conflict , 2001, or The Great Global Warming Swindle , 2007, in which Christensen also appeared as an expert himself. Christensen criticized the film after it was released, claiming that its data had been falsified in the film and that the film falsely excluded human greenhouse gas emissions as a cause of global warming.

Awards and honors

  • 1995 "Director Ib Henriksen" research award.
  • 1995 elected member of the executive committee of the International Association for Geomagnetism and Aeronomy, IAGA.
  • 1996 Elected Associate of the Royal Astronomical Society , London.
  • 2003 Vice President of IAGA.
  • Foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Nils Olsen, Chris Finlay: Eigil Friis-Christensen passed away. International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy, accessed October 2, 2018 .
  2. Director, Dr. Eigil Friis-Christensen, Danish Space Research Institute: Correlations between Solar Activity and Global Climate ( Memento from August 14, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  3. nationalpost.com: Science, not politics  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link / www.nationalpost.com  
  4. The Birkeland Lecture 2007: “Unrest on the Sun - storms on the Earth. The magnetic connection ”
  5. Professor Dr. Eigil Friis-Christensen, Danish National Space Center, DTU
  6. isac-esa.org: CV - Eigil Friis-Christensen ( Memento from August 16, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  7. NIA Seminar by Eigil Friis-Christensen: Solar Activity Variations, Cosmic Rays, Clouds, and Climate Change ( Memento from May 9, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  8. ^ Historisk baggrund for instituttet. Danmarks Tekniske Universitet, DTU Space, March 4, 2016, accessed on October 3, 2016 : "Kristian Pedersen efterfølger Eigil Friis-Christensen, the director for Danmarks Rumcenter og sidenhen DTU Space from 2004 and foreign to 2012."
  9. Eigil Friis-Christensen and Knud Lassen: Length of the Solar Cycle: An Indicator of Solar Activity Closely Associated with Climate . In: Science . 1991, doi : 10.1126 / science.254.5032.698 .
  10. Knud Lassen and Eigil Friis-Christensen: Variability of the solar cycle length during the past five centuries and the apparent association with terrestrial climate . In: Journal of Atmospheric and Terrestrial Physics . July 1995, doi : 10.1016 / 0021-9169 (94) 00088-6 .
  11. a b Paul E. Damon and Peter Laut: Pattern of strange errors plagues solar activity and terrestrial climate data . In: EOS . September 2004, doi : 10.1029 / 2004EO390005 ( [1] [PDF; accessed on August 17, 2016]).
  12. ^ New York Times: Danes Link Sunspot Intensity to Global Temperature Rise
  13. ^ Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen: Variation of cosmic ray flux and global cloud coverage — a missing link in solar-climate relationships . In: Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics . tape 59 , no. 1 , 1997.
  14. PM Kelly and TML Wigley: Solar cycle length, greenhouse forcing and global climate . In: Nature . November 1992, doi : 10.1038 / 360328a0 .
  15. ^ P. Laut and J. Gundermann: Solar cycle length hypothesis appears to support the ipcc on global warming . In: Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics . December 1998, doi : 10.1016 / S1364-6826 (98) 00155-2 .
  16. ^ Benjamin A. Laken et al. a .: A cosmic ray-climate link and cloud observations . In: Journal of Space Weather and Space Climate . November 2012, doi : 10.1051 / swsc / 2012018 ( Online [accessed on August 20, 2016] Goes, inter alia, to Svensmark and Christensen (1997) and the apparent correlation between solar modulated galactic radiation and cloud cover. Open Access.).
  17. Peter Thejll and Knud Lassen: Solar forcing of the Northern hemisphere land air temperature: New data . In: Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics . September 2000, doi : 10.1016 / S1364-6826 (00) 00104-8 .
  18. Birgit Schneider, Thomas Nocke, Georg Feulner: Twist and Shout: Images and Graphs in Skeptical Climate Media . In: Birgit Schneider and Thomas Nocke (eds.): Image Politics of Climate Change . Transcript Verlag, 2014, ISBN 978-3-8376-2610-0 .
  19. ^ Extracts from Ofcom Complaint, by Category: Misrepresentation of Eigil Friis-Christensen's Views. In: ofcomswindlecomplaint.net. Retrieved August 17, 2016 (complaint to the UK Office of Communications (Ofcom) regarding Channel 4's film The Great Global Warming Swindle , filed June 11, 2007).