The Side Effects of Solar Geoengineering Could Be Minimal

WIRED | 3/15/2019 | Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica
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It sounds like a drastic course of action: inject stuff high into Earth’s atmosphere to reflect a little sunlight and help counteract global warming. Then again, injecting a bunch of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere and warming the planet was pretty drastic, too.

The key to thinking sensibly about this “solar geoengineering” is to avoid the extremes and consider the most plausible-use scenarios. That means we can ignore things like using solar geoengineering to cancel out all warming while still emitting as much CO2 as we please—it simply isn't plausible.

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This story originally appeared on Ars Technica, a trusted source for technology news, tech policy analysis, reviews, and more.

There are a number of reasons to take it off the table. There’s the fact that the cooling influence of atmospheric injections is only temporary—quitting quickly reveals the full force of the warming you’re offsetting. There’s also the fact that this scheme only counteracts warming—the acidification of the oceans would continue apace. And for another example, the mismatch in physics between solar-geoengineering-driven cooling and greenhouse warming means that precipitation can decline even if temperature stays the same.

Study - Team - Harvard - Peter - Irvine

A new study from a team led by Harvard’s Peter Irvine targets that precipitation issue. Irvine's team set out to see whether a more plausible geoengineering scheme might minimize negative impacts on the hydrologic cycle.

The scenario they used was a doubling of the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, which should cause a lot of warming. But instead, we respond by doing enough solar geoengineering to cut the resultant warming in half for a hundred years. There are ways to tailor the locations of your injections so that the tiny reflective aerosol particles in the stratosphere mix evenly around the world, which would be critical.

Authors - Sunlight - Climate - Models

That means the authors were able to simply reduce incoming sunlight in climate models...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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