from SpaceWeatherArchive Website
Cosmic rays in the stratosphere are intensifying for the 4th year in a row.
This finding comes from a campaign of almost weekly high-altitude balloon launches conducted by the students of Earth to Sky Calculus.
Since March 2015, there
has been a ~13% increase in X-rays and gamma-rays over central
California, where the students have launched hundreds of balloons.
Overlaid on that time series is a record of neutron monitor data from the Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory in Oulu, Finland. The correlation between the two data sets is impressive, especially considering their wide geographic separation and differing methodologies.
Neutron monitors have long been
considered a "gold standard" for
monitoring cosmic rays on Earth.
This shows that our student-built balloons are gathering data of
Right now, the 11-year solar cycle is plunging into one of the deepest minima of the Space Age. The sun's weakening magnetic field and flagging solar wind are not protecting us as usual from deep-space radiation.
The International Commission on Radiological Protection has classified pilots as occupational radiation workers because of cosmic ray doses they receive while flying.
A recent study (Cancer Prevalence among Flight Attendants compared to the General Population) by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health shows that flight attendants face an elevated risk of cancer compared to members of the general population.
They listed cosmic rays as one of several risk factors.
There are also
controversial studies that suggest cosmic rays promote the
formation of clouds in the atmosphere; if so, increasing cosmic rays
could affect weather and climate.